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Meet Stephanie Meyers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Meyers.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up doing theater, and with loving parents who plied me and my sister with jazz and classical music all throughout childhood. My mom was a particularly effusive cheerleader, constantly encouraging my various artistic pursuits and reminding me how much she hoped I’d keep pursuing whatever felt the most gratifying. When my mom started losing her years-long battle to ovarian cancer, my fourteen-year-old self coped by binge listening to the Dresden Dolls and teaching myself how to play their songs on the hundred-year-old piano collecting dust in our living room. Within the month, I wrote my first song for my mother shortly before her passing and, with encouragement, spent the rest of my teens writing songs to process every subsequent hardship: grief, misogyny, coming to terms with my queerness, surviving countless sexual assaults, and dealing with chronic illness. When I was eighteen, I moved to Boston to study songwriting at Berklee College of Music but wound up focusing on classical composition and writing lots of spooky chamber music instead while still moonlighting as a singer-songwriter. I moved back to LA after finishing graduate school (but never finished college – it’s a long story), and now focus all of my energy making music that I hope people experiencing similar adversity might find uplifting.

Please tell us about your art.
My music is a theatrical blend of ham-fisted classical and cabaret pop. It’s piano-driven, often wordy, and always attempting to balance harmonic complexity and simplicity. Lots of off-kilter chord progressions, lots of ambiguous jazz and classical influences, lots of trying to balance sarcasm with earnestness in the lyrics. I started writing songs in an effort to subvert the debilitation of trauma into tangible, musical affirmations that could help me reorient in moments of doubt. For me, songwriting has always been a coping mechanism. My biggest hope is that my own cathartic process of musical self-expression will strike others in a way that helps them feel witnessed and empowered through shared experience and musical connection.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
To be honest, I used to feel guilty about making music, though I’m not sure how much of that is capitalism conditioning me to believe that monetary return is equivalent to value. I have always had so much reverence for other artists, but when it came to my own work, I thought to pursue a career in self-expression was narcissistic at best, and unproductive at worst. I worried that my music would only be self-serving, and I questioned the value of that. Frankly, it wasn’t until this year when I started working with a nonprofit that facilitates community singing groups and wellness classes in Los Angeles’ Skid Row that I learned to regard music as an inextricable human right. Getting to work with such a humble community of badasses who so beautifully utilize music, and utilize songs specifically, as a vessel to transcend adversity and trauma has been deeply moving. Being in a community that prioritizes music as a means for healing motivates me to do the same, and helps me regard all music-making (including my own) as a radical act of both self & community care. While most of my music is very personal to me, the issues I’m coping with, like grief and trauma, are universal issues that impact everyone at one point or another. My hope is that my honesty can encourage queer people, women, survivors, and everyone else who needs it to be themselves loudly. In a world where systemic oppression is normalized, pushback on an individual level feels more necessary than ever to combat complicity and build community through solidarity.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I’ve got a fair amount of music available for purchase/streaming/consumption in all the usual online places, and I also perform regularly around LA. I feel most supported by those who show up to my performances, and those who take the time to listen to the music I work so hard to create. A loving audience of active listeners is unparalleled. I’ve also gotten very lucky finding musical collaborators and lifelong friends to help me realize various projects over the years, and I’m just kind of dumbfounded and grateful at the support these collaborations have afforded me.

If I had my druthers and unlimited funding, I would always record and perform with a drummer, bassist, and full chamber orchestra. Or at least a drummer, bassist, and string section. Maybe saxophones. As it’s ethically imperative to pay artists for their work, I’ve never been able to afford that large of an ensemble, so I usually work with smaller bands to keep everything in budget. Last year, I sang and played piano accompanied by a string trio (violin, viola, cello). This year, I’ve got a bassist and a drummer. With more fiscal flexibility, I’d be able to hire more musicians as well as release music more quickly. Right now, the majority of my (frankly, low) income is funneled right back into making music. If you’re reading this and have any advice (I’m looking at you grant writers, chamber ensembles, wealthy folks looking to play patron to a modern mini-orchestra), I welcome your feedback! Get in touch with me via social media or my website. Also, feel free to get in touch simply to say hello!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cortney Armitage (pink piano and flower photo), Elle Dioguardi (action shot at keyboard), Marianne Williams (nude laying down shot), Jess Graham (tongue tied album artwork)

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