IT is fair to say music was born into Stephanie Sounds.
I ask her about her upbringing and years in the church; how her father, Rev. Bazil Meade, impacted her love of music and what she has learned from him. She discusses her debut album, Much Better, and what the recording has been like; which tracks stick in her mind – and what plans she has for the next few months.
Keen to learn about her childhood and early music tastes; Stephanie Sounds reveals the artists that made an impression and what it has been like providing backing vocals to some of the music world’s biggest artists.
Hi, Stephanie. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! I am well thank you.
I started this week with a good workout - so I’m ready to get to work.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Stephanie Sounds. I am a professional singer and, after a few years of living and working on my sound, I am ready to release my music into the world.
Your debut album, Much Better, is completed. What can you reveal about it and the stories that go into it?
My album, Much Better, is a very honest account of the ups and downs I have encountered in life so far.
The songs came about very naturally and are very personal to me.
Are there any particular tracks that mean more to you? Any that really stick in the heart?
I honestly love all my songs - as they are written from different places or from different experiences.
It seems Do You Love Me might be a particularly personal track. Tell me more about that song.
Do You Love Me is about my need of my parents love but not quite feeling like that understand me - or want to know me for who I am.
The album explores darker issues like depression and anxiety. Did you feel it was important to address this in the album and make it more visible to those in a similar position?
There’s so much focus on being strong and cracking on with life and not showing your true emotions - that people end up with depression or anxiety and not know how to process these feelings or seek help.
Music, for me, has played a major part in helping me express my feelings. It’s surprising how much a melody or lyrics can give you comfort or some clarity.
It’s important for people to know they are not alone.
How young did music arrive into your life? Can you remember the artists you grew up on?
Before I was even born - with both my parents heavily involved in music, plus a lot of my extended family, it was really in my blood. My mum has a picture of me, aged three, in my little pink dress singing on the stage - so I caught the bug very early.
I grew up listening to a whole range of artists - from Walter Hawkins to Michael Jackson and Anita Baker, and then, later on, I was hooked on all the 1990s' R&B groups and singers such as Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige; H-Town and Jodeci.
Like most teenagers, I went through my ‘Goth stage’ - and got into some ‘light’ Metal and Soft-Rock. Haha!
You dad is the Rev. Bazil Meade from the London Community Gospel Choir. Did you go to church a lot and sing? What was your upbringing like?
We attended church every week - unless the choir had a concert elsewhere. I would only really sing in church if I was performing a special number. Other than that, I would sing at the top of my voice in the congregation.
As I got older, I would be out touring with L.C.G.C. across Europe and the U.K. - often taking a few weeks off school during term time - but my teachers were great about it!
Is it quite hard telling people you are not exactly like your dad – and you are not purely Gospel?!
Not at all.
I have always been my own person and made sure that I do what makes me happy. Some people make assumptions about what my music will be like - but I enjoy telling them otherwise...
In the past; you have provided backing vocals to some of the music world’s biggest mainstream artists. Are there particular memories that stand out? Who was the best artist you ever sang with?
I really enjoyed touring with Faithless.
I feel like I learn the most from them as I was really opened up to singing - on top of a different style of music. I also enjoyed when I toured with Westlife as a backing singer and dancer.
I love dancing and I’ve always wanted a job that could combine the two.
Your time with Faithless must have been a great experience. What was life like with the dance outfit?
I think they just toured in a different way to what I had done previously...
I was used to staying in my hotel room and maybe popping to the shops in a new city. With them, we went on long walks; sat by a lake and had lunch - or did something touristy. It taught me to really appreciate travelling and experience the culture whilst I was there - even if for a day.
What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we see you play?
I am a part of an amazing tour in Switzerland from the 21st October, for two weeks, called SEAT Music Session Show.
When I am back; I will get ready for my debut London show at the Hoxton Bar and Grill, on 19th November, with my band!
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
I’ve recently discovered Bruno Major. He’s a beautiful songwriter and I love his sound.
IN THIS PHOTO: Bruno Major
If you each had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Lovers Rock by Sade
I fell in love with her when she released this album - and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Frank by Amy Winehouse
This album is timeless and I love the honesty in what she writes.
Fallen - Evanescence
This album showed me how to use a piano and orchestra in a different way in popular music - and, of course, I love the big guitars!
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Develop thick skin: there’s a lot of rejection in this industry but you have to believe in yourself and be tenacious.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
My favourite song at the moment is Stonemilker by Björk
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