If you’ve been paying any attention to Australia’s steadily growing hip-hop and R&B scene, then chances are the enigmatic Wollongong artist Stevan has caught your eye.
It might have been the smooth sounds of his voice that made you take notice or the luscious yet dark musical arrangements that have featured on previous singles Timee or Warm. Whatever the case, there’s no denying that when it comes to all things soul, R&B and rock, Stevan sticks out from the crowd.
“Song-writings weird for me…I feel like I can make a song, but sometimes when I want to really mould something, in particular, that’s when it can be really tricky…I listen to a big range of music…but I always wanna try and make something ‘listenable’ – I want whatever influence it is to sound like me,” he tells us in the lead up to the release of his debut mixtape Just Kids (out June 12th via Astral People).
“It’s the little choices….I love stacking my voice in terms of harmonies throughout the whole song…I’ve kind of by accident also fallen into the habit of tweaking a bass sound or a drum sound a certain way – it’s a matter of me just going ‘this is what I like’ – even though some people might not be doing it like that.
Check out ‘Timee’ by Stevan:
“When I make music it all blends together – on Warm for example, I love indie pop, so the guitar is a call-back to that, but the drums are really hip-hop styled, and my singing has a very R&B delivery- all it is is elements from different places, but it really helps me fall into having a sound.”
When speaking to Stevan, it’s impressive to note is self-assuredness as a young artist, navigating the complex and fickle music industry with a clear vision of what he wants to be both as a musician and a person.
“I thought at first ‘maybe the artist persona has to grow here’ – but I realised that the more that I’m true to what I am, that’s what people really gravitate to – the music is cool, but when people have a chance to get to know me it then fills in a lot of blanks,” he says.
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“Every chance you get to be onstage really does matter….as well as when you do interviews and meet people from the industry – being genuine is what people gravitate to the most.
“When I was at Bigsound for example, I kind of learnt a little bit about….what it was like being able to interact with a large group of people who are solely there to watch your performance – I learnt at that moment that how you perform and interact really does matter and can leave a lasting impression.”
Check out ‘Warm’ by Stevan:
Listening to Just Kids affirms this statement, with the variety of sound proving that when it comes to music, Stevan plays by his own rules.
“Instrumentally I played everything, wrote everything – I just wanted to give people something that was 100% me the first time because then I can really express my deepest intention,’’ he says regarding the mixtape.
“All the artists I love, I remember the first album they did and thinking ‘wow, this is intense’ – because I wanted to try so many different things and I’m growing sonically, I wanted to give people the best idea of where I’m at right now, so that’s why I opted for a mixtape over, say, an EP or album.
“Depending on how stuff goes I could do a record next year…but I didn’t even wanna do an EP now because I feel like and EP is the thing to do before you do a record – so I was keen to be a little against the grain and do something a little different – only rap artists really used to do those, but I don’t do rap – so I thought it was a really cool way to market it.”
If Just Kids is any indication of what’s to come from Stevan, we can expect to see him pop up in all different corners of the music scene, such is the melting pot of styles that he’s blended together, packaged in a smooth, R&B flavoured coating.
For now, Stevan is keeping his options wide-open, something that makes his career all the more exciting to follow.