With his forthcoming EP “Loners Club”, Stevan is ready to present his new, explorative sound to the world.
Stevan’s euphoric blend of scuzzed-out indie guitars and vocals that oscillate between rhythmic rap-adjacent flows and honeyed Rn’B runs, align the young artist with a crop of exciting musicians who have emerged over the past decade, from Frank Ocean to Steve Lacy and Blood Orange; those who have shown us the thrilling potential of genre blending and bending within the realms of hip hop and alternative rock.
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Stevan’s sun-soaked sonics are picking up some serious steam, too. Globally acclaimed with over 10 million streams across his catalogue, he’s toured with The Rubens, Winston Surfshirt, and Omar Apollo, performed at Splendour in The Grass and Bigsound, and played the Hermes Fit launch at the iconic Hordern Pavilion. He’s collaborated with Cosmo’s Midnight and Budjerah, graced studio sessions with Peking Duk and Kwame, and has even received praise from BBC Radio 1 and Billboard.
With his forthcoming EP Loners Club, set for release on July 7, 2023, Stevan presents a new, significantly more explorative sound to the world, moving away from his more formative influences and into a space in which he can convey his most authentic creativity and push himself to new limits.
Ahead of this massive release, Stevan sat down with Mixdown to chat workflow, the comfort to be found in the home studio and the multi-faceted nature of his creative spark.
Hi Stevan! To start things off, I’d love to ask whether you made a conscious effort to expand your sound when approaching the latest releases we’ve seen from you – with such a wide array of genre influence perceptible within your work, from indie rock, to RnB and hip hop, I’d love to know what kind of sonic palette you were working from when you began writing and recording this body of work?
I didn’t go in with a particular style in mind at first. I was listening to a lot of Tame Impala & Pond though. Guess that ended up becoming the beginning of the stylistic influences.
What inspired you? What was the vision?
The aforementioned artists definitely did. I guess I got bored and moved in different directions. Plus Lil Yachty did a whole project cosplaying as Tame Impala so it made me wanna switch things up for my own EP.
Tell me about your songwriting process – is it a collaborative affair, do you tend to tinker alone and build from those skeletons, or is it a combination of both?
I locked myself into a room and got to work. I was using a studio space for a bit but it didn’t feel right. So I moved my gear back home, home being a shitty share house in Darlinghurst. I played and recorded everything you hear on the EP by myself in a bedroom. Some of it is ego I guess but primarily it’s because I want kids who see me doing music to know it’s possible to make great songs without the million dollar producers or equipment or songwriters. My biggest asset is Google and curiosity.
Talk me through your recording workflow from demo to track completion. Do you begin in the bedroom or head straight to the studio? Any preference of DAW/special demo set up that goes the extra mile?
Big fan of Logic Pro, it’s where I got my start. But I produced tracks on the EP in Ableton too, so whatever works at the time. Songs usually come all at once for me – like I’ll sit down and have a rough outline of the track. Lately it’s been taking longer to finish songs but that’s only because I’m getting better, so I think of way more ways to enhance my ideas. In the past I was limited by my knowledge of production or songwriting so I’d be finished making a track in a day, haha.
Which pieces of equipment are the most integral to you when it comes to translating the project’s essence from a recorded to a live context? Are you trying to replicate your studio sound when you perform, or do you prefer to let the songs breathe and find their own live groove?
Great question [that] I’ve been struggling with lately, because my production has gotten better which means pretty sound designs. But then to bring that to life live is trickier than it was when my instrumentals were less busy. Guitar is a huge part of my music. I’ve got a Warm Audio preamp which helps me get volume and a nice saturation sound. I use an SSL Interface that works just fine for the stuff I’m trying to make. Honestly I don’t complicate things. A teacher told me this once about recording: you put shit in you get shit out, haha. I try and have strong ideas and I think regardless of the set up they’ll translate well if the idea is good. That goes for live as well if the song is strong it’ll sound good on an acoustic guitar and a vocal.
Are there any pieces of gear you’ve acquired, be it something cheap that punches massively above its weight, or a less-wallet friendly splurge, that have tangibly influenced the way you write and record music to this day?
Yes! I think Splice is worth every penny. It’s not a piece of physical gear but it might as well be. It has any sound you could be looking for. My textures and overall ideas levelled up big time when I got it. I also think most people don’t truly know all the ins and outs of their DAW. Usually you can get away with stock once you understand what type of sounds you want to create. YouTube is a huge game changer. I’d encourage people to get better by working with less. Once you level up you’ll know how to utilise the equipment more effectively.
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What are the visual mediums that you find best allow you to express yourself as an artist outside of music – you have a very strong aesthetic in the way of dress sense and fashion, for example – is it important for you to be able to display your creativity in every aspect of this project’s output?
Definitely. I love clothes and I love movies. I think I have my own style in both areas, and I’d love to explore them more as I grow creatively. I think it’s becoming more and more important that I do. Because they’re so many talented artists nowadays and I think the more you can differentiate yourself through visuals and clothing the better chance of you connecting to your people.
How do you recharge your creative batteries? What in your life inspires your music that isn’t music? It could be as logical as watching a film or listening to records, or as obscure as gardening or taking a long walk.
I have to live life. I don’t think I can recharge without a little break. Because I’m always making music anyways. I’ve noticed I have better ideas or more emotionally rich ideas when I don’t do music for a while. And I come back with something to say or to offer. Another way I “recharge” is finding a song I’m obsessed with. This leads to me trying to recreate it and then having my own song/songs as a byproduct of that excitement.
What’s on the horizon? What exciting things can we expect from you for the remainder of the year?
I’m gonna be playing a lot of shows, a few festivals. Probably gonna end the year with my own tour. I’ve got a band again which is exciting and fun. My EP is out on the 7th of July, ya’ll should check it out. Besides that I want to think about the bigger picture for 2024-onwards. That’s the only thing that’s really exciting me atm.
You can preorder/pre-save Stevan’s Loners Club EP here.