Imagine this for a moment. There is a black iron fence in front of a gray stone cottage with a red little chimney in the middle of a woodland forest. The door opens and a hand releases a bundle of balloons of all colors into the air. Each guitar strum allows a glittering watery rainbow to feel its short lived freedom, before melting down the windshield of your car.
The moment seems to call for you to laugh childishly, play on a swing set, cry pearls and stars, or perhaps do something really impulsive. You feel so filled with intense passion that you can hardly contain yourself. You are compelled to create fantasy dreams filled with elves, faeries and magical crystal shards.
All the while, you try to transport your astral self into a place so beautiful, that you could have a picnic with your lover under the willow trees, as humming birds flutter past your hair. How romantic! How peaceful! By the way, are you listening to Steph Sweet’s music right now? I wouldn’t be surprised. Now, close your eyes and try to dream yourself into the next song.
Take a closer look and listen to her lyrics. Without warning, it is no longer a mystical world that glows and flourishes with life, but instead the image with one touch, darkens as if ominous storm clouds have obscured your vision. It begins to thunder then downpour. Your catharsis begins. You cry and cry until all negative energies have expelled from your body, leaving you feeling almost purified.
Steph Sweet’s music definitely has its roots in the 60s as well as subtle reflections of the 90s that contains an almost psychedelic wave feel. The components of her songs seem to fit together nicely and with sounds that exhibit the traits of both modern and classic psych bands. The fuzzed out guitar sits comfortably in the mix along with the dynamics of the drums, while Steph’s layered vocals swirl around with reverb in a way that is pleasing the ears.
All the while, her lyrics seem to quietly ask the listener to acknowledge the harshness of the physical world. Not everything is always happy all of the time and cruel reality may at any point reveal itself, no longer cleverly disguised for your comfort. We get the feeling that there is more to Steph’s words than first impressions. Instead, the moment is like a psychedelic trip calling for closer introspection to the extreme. Let go and take life as it comes for good and for bad.
(Below) The music video for the track “TeePee Valley”
To the casual listener, these messages may be difficult to pick up on. Aside from the fact that everything isn’t always incense and peppermints, Steph seems to bare her soul.
It’s easy to get lost in the calm of Steph’s sounds. The sound of her gentle voice and sweet sounding guitar contrasted with the rather matter of fact attitude of her lyrics might help us to better understand the art, if not the artist. Sweet’s depictions of life contain with it, a sparkling pallet of feminine perspectives, and social satire. Flash back to reality as you come down from this colorful rush and fade out to black!
When Steph Sweet and I first talked, I knew immediately that I liked her style. Just the same, I wanted very much to speak with her and hear more from her about her life, the inspirations behind her songs, and also to understand how she came to create them. Most of my questions were answered in this interview, so let’s get started already. Here it is! Check it out!
LUND: “I know it said on your SoundCloud description that you play the guitar, the drums, the keyboards and you sing. When did you first start to play the various instruments that you currently use in your work? Also, did you take lessons for singing or was it just a natural progression (where no lessons were needed?)”
SWEET: “I started acoustic guitar lessons at school when I was seven, but never persevered with it. I also played the flute at school when I was eleven, and likewise, got bored and never continued. Other than that I am self-taught. My grandfather was a gifted piano player and when he was first married, he had a piano that everyone in the street would come and gather around to sing away their woes and worries. My cousin was also a gifted and handsome vocalist.”
LUND: “Have you been in other bands before starting out as the solo artist ‘Steph Sweet’?”
SWEET: “I’ve been in many, many bands. I love the camaraderie of it. In some way, that is why Soundcloud is such an important platform for me. It brings together like-minded musicians that I never would have met otherwise. Being a solo musician was born purely from the necessity of me wanting to make my own particular music.”
LUND: “What bands were you interested in as a child? What artists have influenced your work over the years?”
SWEET: “Well, I’m very influenced by sixties bands (such as ‘The Doors,’) and always have been. Other genres I love are alternative, freak-folk, stoner rock, heavy rock, psychedelic and folk music (all of which are very important to me.) As a child, our house was always full of music, and we listened to lots of different stuff ranging anywhere from 60s psychedelic (The Beatles for example) to classical music.”
LUND: “What part of England are you from and what is the underground music scene like?”
SWEET: “No comment.”
LUND: “Where do you typically record your tracks? Does anyone help or assist you with your current project?”
SWEET: “I am so very lucky to have worked with multi-talented Marco Abba (aka drunkeninstrumentcorporation) this last year. He has an enormous sensitivity to my work and is featured on three tracks for my new album.”
(Below) “Mind-Spies” by Steph Sweet & Drunkeninstrumentcorporation
SWEET: “All other artists that I have worked with are always clearly listed, because I feel it is very important to give full credit to those who work with me. As for writing and recording, I have my own very small studio and a variety of DAWs (digital audio workstations) that I use. The process of songwriting can vary enormously, depending on the song and sound.”
LUND: “Have you collaborated with others during your time as a music artist or would you be open to collaborating with others on SoundCloud or otherwise?”
SWEET: “I have a playlist on Soundcloud with all of my collaborations on it. Some songs are also on past albums. I consider it a great honor to have worked with some of the finest musicians from around the world. The only issue I have is that of time. I simply don’t have time to work on all of the projects and with all of the people I would like to.”
LUND: “What inspires your music? What are some of the hidden meanings and concepts behind some of your favorite tracks & album creations?”
SWEET: “I am inspired by life and the Gods. I don’t really do hidden meanings. It’s all there out in the open, or perhaps open to interpretation. I am just finishing up a new album called ‘Observation Ward,’ an autobiographical set of songs concerning my own long battles with mental illness.”
LUND: “In many of your songs there is mention of many serious issues, and perspectives, that sometimes are hidden behind the beauty of your music. Why did you decide to create such a stark contrast in your music, or rather how did you come up with it, because it’s brilliant?”
SWEET: “That is very kind of you to say. I really couldn’t say where it all comes from. To me, it’s all a form of magic. At my best, I feel as if I am a conduit and not a creator at all.”
FAVORITE ARTIST TRACKS
Before I end this article, I’d like to share some of my favorite recommended Steph Sweet tracks with you. These include “Rape,” “Ellen,” and “The Hag and The Whore.” All of the tracks listed resonated with me upon first listen. Therefore, I have a feeling that you (readers & music enthusiasts) might also enjoy these tracks.
The subject matter of this song is all too familiar. It is a topic that can best be described not only as a terrible trauma, but also as a death of the self, a shutdown, a panic in the darkness, or a sinking pit with no bottom. The name says it all. No more commentaries from me.
Another song I loved was “Ellen.”The implications are straightforward just as Sweet told me. The song is about a young girl that is ignored and nobody outside her home wants to see how bad things really are for her. In the city where I live, children are forgotten about all the time (in schools, at home and in the eyes of the law.) Some children grow up with no one taking care of them (being abused or neglected.) This song is absolutely gorgeous and another very “true to life” type of piece.
My third and final recommendation is “The Hag And The Whore.” The acoustic guitar in this song, stood out prominently. This is another track that many would find themselves drawn to listening to over and over again. It also makes a point of letting us know how shallow and materialistic our society actually is.
If you liked this article feel free to check out Steph Sweet’s YouTube and SoundCloud pages. Her other links are listed on SoundCloud, if you’d like to find out more.
Also, Waking Dream’s YouTube and Soundcloud page have been listed as well and subscriptions and follows are always much appreciated. Until next time, take care.
-Liz Lund of Waking Dream
Steph Sweet’s Links:
Waking Dream’s Links: