I was determined to speak with STEELE…
about her track, Knots, and how it came together. The Swedish artist talks about making music/living with epilepsy and how health issues have affected her career; what inspired her album, PAROXYSM, and whether there will be any tour dates – I ask if she will come to the U.K.
STEELE talks about her musical muses and whether she gets a chance to unwind away from music; which musical memory sticks in her mind; some new acts worth a look in – she ends the interview by selecting a rather good track!
Hi, STEELE. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m good, thank you! My week has been eventful – but fun! I just released my first album, PAROXYSM!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hi, everyone! My name is STEELE and I’m a half-Swede, half-Brit based in Stockholm. I’ve been a musician all my life, starting off with Classical piano which then emerged into Soul, Funk; Jazz, Rock; Pop and eventually became my ‘own genre’. My music is quite melancholic, bittersweet and progressive - ‘Cinematic Pop/Trip-Hop’.
Knots is your new song. What is the story behind it?
Knots was the final song that I wrote for the album and it was is the midst of me being very sick and hospitalised. My loved ones were obviously distressed as I nearly didn’t make it and some of the people close to me couldn’t handle the apprehension and vanished from my life. Of course, I don’t judge anyone for it as it was an extremely uncomfortable situation for everyone but the track is sort of the anthem to that person who left.
You also have an album, PAROXYSM, out. What sort of themes inspired the songs we hear? What was it like recording the record?
As mentioned above, a big part of the album is permeated by me being sick, and not just recently – but, actually, also right before my first E.P., Opium, was released. Back then, I had to have a severe neck surgery that actually affected my voice afterwards, which you can probably hear on the second E.P., Hiraeth. Other than that, relationships and love are, of course, major factors to my inspiration.
Recording the album has been a roller-coaster, mentally; emotionally and physically. I’ve loved it. I’ve hated it. I’ve felt indifferent. But, in the end, I’m happy to say that the result is a very honest and intimate record that I’m proud of.
How do you think you have grown as a songwriter the past few months? Are you more confident, would you say?
I would say I’ve grown for sure. I don’t feel as restricted or keen to follow rules - or sound perfect or like someone else. I know I’m no Beyoncé - but she’s no STEELE either. Jokes (I love you, Beyoncé!)
How did music come into your life? Which artists sparked your imagination?
I began playing the piano at a very young age; most likely inspired by a bunch of my family members being very musical and introduced me early on. I’d say Björk, Portishead; Massive Attack, Radiohead and a lot of Swedish artists paved the way for me.
You were struck by meningitis and suffer from epilepsy. How has this changed your approach to music?
I think it’s changed my whole perspective in general. Making better choices, being more appreciative; pursuing the right things, cutting myself some slack (for once) and embracing flaws rather than banishing them. All of that I can apply when it comes to music as well.
Will there be any live dates coming up? Where can we see you play?
At the moment, we are regrouping both from my recovery and from the release and will let the album live a little on its own. But, we are of course planning to do live gigs in the near future.
What is the live scene like in Sweden? Will you come to the U.K. and play?
The live scene here is pretty good, I think! A lot of people are interested in music and are open to discovering new things, which is great! My plan is definitely to come to the U.K .and play.
Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?
I want to go up to the north of Sweden and do a hike in the mountains. Also, I want to be able to do at least (!) one chin-up. Haha.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I’d say when I had the release party for Hiraeth and I was singing 8 A.M. I looked out in the audience and many people had tears in their eyes or even cried. It wasn’t an ego-trip, but I felt touched myself. Music can feel so exposing but at that moment I felt content and connected.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Homogenic by Björk, A Rush of Blood to The Head by Coldplay and Above by Mad Season.
They’re all from the '90s and have this wonderfully fulfilling teenage anguish about them.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Remember why you do it, not who you do it for. It’s easy to lose sight when you’re in the midst of the business and most likely people will tell you what to do; point out things you should change about yourself; reject you and tell you they don’t like what they here. Those people aren’t meant to be your audience anyway. It’s really not worth losing your love and passion for music because of some people’s opinion.
IN THIS PHOTO: Sabrina Claudio/PHOTO CREDIT: Nikko Lamere
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I try to get out of the city whenever the opportunity is given. I love nature and plan to move to the countryside as soon as possible. Also, I love creating - painting, sculpturing; just anything with my hands!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Downtown by Majical Cloudz