Interview /w Native Indie Rockband: Deer Lady

Mali Obomsawin and Magdalena Abrego chat about the development of their latest band; Deer Lady.
Magdalena Abrego & Mali Obomsawin, photo; Sasha Pedro



Shaking up the world of Indigenous music is indie rockband duo, Mali Obomsawin (Odanak First Nation) and Magdalena Abrego’s Deer Lady. Having released their debut album Greatest Hits just this last January, the pair has already enthralled their audience with their unique and complimentary styles, and are quickly establishing themselves as the new Native band to follow.

Obomsawin, a bassist, songwriter, and composer, got her start in music on the clarinet (just one of the many similarities they share with Abrego) and the fiddle, participating in her school band and remembering the jazz music her father would always have playing around the house. Abrego, a guitarist, has a background in jazz music, and over her career, has developed her own personal style, preferring to test the limits with what unique sounds she can bring to her music.

Abrego & Obomsawin, photo; Sasha Pedro

In another parallel of their lives, both Obomsawin and Abrego were undergraduates at the Berklee College of Music, even living in the same neighborhood in Boston, yet never ran into one another. It wasn’t until Obomsawin had reached out to a mutual friend of the two, searching for a guitarist who could bring the unique creativity she wanted for what would eventually become Greatest Hits.

During the pandemic, Obomsawin began to develop her latest album, and after being connected with Abrego, finalized the rest of the project together. The experience allowed for the pair to get to know one another as people while creating this music, and eventually realized just how well they collaborated and could perform as a band.

“The way I’d describe my working relationship with Mali at the time of this record is kind of my ideal relationship, musically. Mali would come to me with these songs on an acoustic guitar that were fully realized with lyrics, music, and they were just these perfect little gems that just needed this sonic world to encompass them, and I would say that was where the heart of the collab really took place,” Abrego recalled.

The duo eventually ran into a creative rough patch while in the midst of developing the album, though it was during that when they got the oppurtunity to debut some of their collaboration on a wide scale, after being approached by some of the team from the show, Reservation Dogs.

“Reservation Dogs ended up reaching out to us…I was like ‘well I’m sitting on this unreleased album and we hadn’t even decided to be a band yet. It was for the episode ‘Deer Lady’ and so they used two of my songs from ‘SweetTooth’ (a past album) and our song ‘There There’ from the album we created together,” Obomsawin recalled.

Abrego and Obomsawin, photo; Sasha Pedro

When it came time to decide on the name of their new band, the pair originally wanted to name it after themselves, but having already dealt with enough mispronounciations and misspellings from outside their communities, another epiphany struck Obomsawin. “I was walking in the woods of Oregon, and wait a second, let me just do a quick google search if the band name ‘Deer Lady’ was taken, and miraculously, it wasn’t.” Abrego joined in on the excitement with; “It’s native – but pronouncible!”

Despite having introduced their band to the scene so recently, Deer Lady has already garnered attention from it’s audiences, coming as both a relief and excitement for the duo. From seeing Indian Country’s reaction to “There There” in Reservation Dogs to the full release of the album at the beginning of this year, the buzz being generated has both Obomsawin and Abrego excited for and looking towards the future.

“The thing I’m most excited about at this point is the opportunity to be in a rockband. I feel like clarinet-playing childhood goth girl Magdalena would be so psyched right now,” Abrego mentioned. Obomsawin added that: “I’m so excited to tour it and perform it live because we know eachother so much better as musicians now.”

You can learn more about and follow Obomsawin and Abrego on their websites and Instagrams @maliobomsawin, @m_agdalenaaa, and @deerladyband

Additionally, Deer Lady has announced the tour dates for their album release, which you can check out below:

March 29 NYC C’mon Everybody
April 10 Cambridge MA Lizard Lounge
April 14 Marlboro NY The Falcon
May 14 Minneapolis Icehouse
May 15 Chicago Judson & Moore
May 19 Davenport IA The Raccoon Motel

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