Intriguing In Sound And Vision – A Chat With The British DIY Songstress STEPH SWEET

STEPH SWEET is a most intriguing DIY indie songstress/musician, in sound and
vision, who lives underground in the UK. She ran away from home at the age of
fifteen and started singing in bands leading over the years to an innovative and
productive solo journey.

My greedy ears discovered her only recently, with her excellent new – 4th – longplayer EDIE. A fascinating record with sonic brain twists and sonic mood swings. Hard to really get into Steph Sweet‘s artistic universe, but maybe this interview will reveal more.

But as usual here on Turn Up The Volume, we start interviews with some music.

I picked my favorite piece of the new album. The mesmeric title track.

Hello Steph,
thank you for doing
this Q & A

On your Bandcamp profile, you tell us that you were signing before you
could speak. What kind of songs were you singing? Songs learned at school,
heard on the radio or already tunes you wrote yourself

“I literally don’t remember, but the story goes I would sing in gibberish to everyone
and I even had a nickname for it! Perhaps I was speaking in tongues?”

What and/or who inspired you the most to start your musical odyssey, Steph?

“My Grandfather was a brilliant pianist (and magician!) They used to have an old piano
and everyone in the street would come round and sing away the blues. My Grandmother was a wonderful, warm and loving woman who loved to cook and feed everyone and throw a party, even though they were so desperately poor, they all shared what they could.

I always remember their house as music and warmth
and laughter and hugs. Music is that magic to me.”

You’re a DIY artist. What does that really mean in practice?

“DIY is about musical independence, to me anyway! For the songwriting all the way through recording, sound-engineering, mixing and mastering I have my own, small
studio and my production company, Smoky Moon Productions handles all the photoshoots, artwork, design, films and distribution.”

In your bio, I’ve read that the online audio streaming music
platform Soundcloud helped you to really kick it off. How so?

Soundcloud was a diamond! There was a brief spell and it was just musicians….really fabulous. It was like joining a hundred bands, I’d get in at night and check out who’d written and posted a new tune, it reminded me of being a teenager in bands again!

I met so many kind people who really encouraged my work,
some who have become longtime friends.”


.

Which of your songs would you pick to introduce
yourself as an artist to people who never heard of you?

“It’s so hard to say, I’m niche baby! I’d go with…

Edie
Berlin Heel
Dancing Bears
Ellen
Tesla and the White Bird

Earlier this year you released your 4th album called EDIE. On the title
track you introduce us to Edie. Is she for real or fiction, Steph?

“Well it started out about Edie Sedgwick but kinda morphed into
a song about my best friend! So it’s about both of them x”


American actress and fashion model, known
for being one of Andy Warhol’s superstars

(1943-1971)

Track 7 on the album is titled ‘What Did You Do In The Eco-Wars Daddy’? Must
be the coolest/weirdest song title of the year. What is the song’s story about?

“I wrote Eco-wars at a road protest after being mauled by security guards. They liked to
rip our clothes. On the first visit, I was wrongfully arrested by the Sherriff, whilst high
up a tree in a cargo-net after an accidental overnight protest. (It was all spontaneous,
I’d only gone on holiday for Mayday….it was quite the week!)

At that point the UK government hadn’t changed the laws to account for road protesters, so being so high up in an ancient beech tree was still actually counted as being in British Aerospace, so it should have been the RAF that nicked us and not the Old Bill in cherry-pickers…..(you did ask!) The second verse lyrics are taken directly from my charge sheet.”

As I wrote in my review of EDIE, I hear echoes of
THE KILLS and ROYAL TRUX. Do you hear them too?

“Sorry no, I’m not a Kills fan. But I love Royal Trux and saw them play in Brighton.
It was a staggeringly awesome gig. I haven’t listened to them for years but it’s
good to know they’re still influencing me.”

Did you listen to records of other artists to inspire
you during in the writing process of the songs?

“I don’t listen to any other music when I’m recording, my ears are all mangled from
hours and hours of production, I start hearing notes and rhythms in kettles boiling
and car alarms, so then I need the quiet to decompress….it’s great to finish the album
and get back into music again, so much good music around right now, such good vibes.”


(Royal Trux – Ghent, Belgium, 2017 – pic by Turn Up The Volume)

What does making music means for your heart and soul?

“It’s so hard to explain, but music feels like it’s in my bones.
There’s nothing like music to bring people together.”

Are you performing your music live, Steph?
If not, is that something you want to do?

“I’m getting an acoustic set together at the moment, just to do a few little gigs
to warm up and test my material. But really I want to join a brand new band and
just sing and leap about, rather than play the guitar onstage.I need to shake it baby!”

What specific movie would you pick to
soundtrack it with your music, Steph?

“Something wonderful by David Lynch.”

The best track and album you heard so far this year?

30 and Beyond The Infinite by Lumen Del Mundo

Horsedance by Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation

Is Steph really a SWEET girl?

“Sweet is a surname, not an adjective.”

Next step?

“Just some gigs and a documentary, very excited though…watch this space!.”

Thank you very much for this chat, Steph.
May the road rise with you.

Stream EDIE here…

.
Also on iTunes

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