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November 2018
Feature

Stevie Parker: "I only started writing songs for myself by accident."

A 24-year-old from Bristol making some of 2016’s most atmospheric pop - and that’s just her debut single…
Published: 3:29 pm, September 29, 2016
Stevie Parker: "I only started writing songs for myself by accident."
Stevie Parker’s earliest musical memory is singing to her toys as a little girl. “I was a crazy kid,” the 24-year-old admits. She’s come a long way: her fusion of ambient pop and electronic textures combine to create soulful compositions in the vein of Lapsley and Jessie Ware. “There’s a lot hanging on the words,” she says, from her hometown, Bristol. “I only started writing songs for myself by accident,” she reveals, having sung backing vocals, written for other people and been in bands as a teenager. “I just tried it one day thinking nothing of it and got a good reaction so I decided to study it at university.”

Choosing further education was “a shot in the dark,” Stevie continues. “I didn’t know where to start. I just threw myself into a situation where there was lots of other musicians and hoped for the best...” Her time at university was “definitely not wild,” she reveals. “I went from being a carefree person to becoming quite a serious person in a short space of time.” Reality had hit that rather than achieving overnight success, she was in it for the long haul. “I realised it was a process that was going to take me years and not months – it felt like the death of childhood. I remember thinking, ‘I’ve got a lot of work, growing up and self-discovery to do…’”

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Growing up on a mixed musical diet, Motown and Fleetwood Mac were big influences, as well as Amy Winehouse - “her rawness really appealed to me.” As Stevie got a little older, she found herself drawn to the darker electronic style of Massive Attack. Empowering female voices like Eva Cassidy, Stevie Nicks and Nerina Pallot have also inspired her. But in terms of style and attitude, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O is a pivotal influence. “I think my music is a fusion of all of that really, and pop – I’ve always just loved pop.” For Stevie, songwriting is a form of cathartic expression. “I don’t really write when I’m happy. I find it really difficult,” she says. “I try to channel what I’m feeling.”

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Debut single ‘The Cure’ - all icy electronic production and an immediately arresting vocal - is far from a romantic love song like people assume. Instead, it was born from “a bit of hell in a relationship. It’s inspired from being in a position where I was struggling to resist falling back into it.” Stevie sees the track as darker than how some listeners interpret it. “I wrote it from a place of love, but also from confusion, indecision and fear,” she recalls. “It’s a mixed bag of emotions.”

Stevie’s album, which is already finished, carries a similar theme. “It’s not a light-hearted record, it’s quite dark,” she confirms. Written over a number of years, she calls it a “growing up record. It spans a long period of my life. Some of the songs were written when I was 16 and others when I turned 24. It’s surreal having all of this stuff that’s been sitting around for years and now only just revealing snippets to people. It’s quite strange... It still doesn’t feel real.”
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