INTERVIEW: Stefanie Keys

How would you classify your music?

 Roots Rock Americana.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

Early on I heard Carol King, Jim Croce and the Carpenters! A lot of gospel music, and classic rock.

So my top 5 would be:

Janis Joplin

Jimi Hendrix

Led Zeppelin

Aretha Franklin

James Taylor

What do you want fans to take from your music?

Inspiration.  For people to  follow their passion and dreams.

Hope.  That we can have positive impact in the world. We can make choices that allow for freedom and equality. Positivity

Release from stress.


Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?

Open Road is an evolution.  My previous music fell into a Indie Rock & Southern Rock category, based in an acoustic sound. As a songwriter, my bout with alcoholism, getting sober, the loss of many friends and family members, songwriting has been my best source of expression for turning loss into an opportunity to grow spiritually and offer hope to others. I have delved into my gospel roots here, vocally and musically.  With a passion for the more Urban dance and  funk grooves that have always tugged at my soul, without  loosing my real  rock and roll edge.  (Touring with  Big Brother & the Holding Co. 2009-2014, singing Janis’ songs, re defined rock music for me… from a woman’s perspective.)  I always related to the “Boys Club” when it came to rock and roll. I always wanted IN!  I also knew I was driven, but Janis revolutionized that old idea. And I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with BBHC and experience the honor of working on the songs she sang that have grown  me in many ways  artistically.

This release  is deeply personal,  however there is a more global message in the stories I have chosen to  tell.

I believe making music makes a difference.

I have always been broad reaching when it comes to genre.  This release moves into a modern soulful sound.

The producer Dave Shul ( Michael Franti and Spearhead)  with Co Producer Peter Keys ( Lynyrd Skynyrd, P-Funk)  have a musical perspective that are also varied, bringing contrast,  my voice, and songs into  a new wide open territory.

My New  CD ‘Open Road’ Is available now, on CD baby and I Tunes.

What do you love and hate about the Music Business?

Being an artist begins as an internal work, with questions  ‘What do I want to say?’ ‘Who is the character?’ ‘What is the story?’ ’ What is the point?’ , but really, music is ultimately  all about the people who you touch. I think of it as being a connection. What people get is not nessicarily what you meant, so there is always a collaboration going on…

As I look back, there was always some music that was a theme in my life.  Music has lightened my heart during times of sorrow, and joy in times of celebration, hope in times of despair. I hope I can bring that to others.

OF course creating and collaborating I find most rewarding and fun.

Like anything I find the music business is filled with paradoxes!

There are challenges in the business in getting paid for live shows if you are not a cover band.. (which is odd to me)

And yet the challenge seems to keep me driven to work and keep elevating what I am doing. I am creating success, despite the good old sayings like “Don’t quit your day job”.

It also seems like musicians are not valued enough… this may be a generalization, seems like artists are always doing community work, fundraisers, and involved in special interests that support families, schools ect.. yet the money is not there… go figure..

 I think more educational programs to get people to see what music does for the communities might bring higher paying gigs and make funding available  for artists who work.  l think that most artists do a lot of work to create recordings, play shows, and hustle to make a living. We are making a difference in communities. It would be nice to see the public being willing to pay more at the door, and not expect to get their music for free… just sayin’.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

I remember a Day On The Green in San Francisco in the early 80s.

With Heart, Loverboy,and Black Sabbath, that was awesome! I lost my voice from wailing in the audience, cause I knew all of the lyrics to the songs.

I love playing live, to connect in person with my fan base, and my band mates, it is a love fest!  To ROCK out is the best fun ever!

Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why? 

On this CD, I am enjoying 2 powerful songs right now. “Cold Day” and ” City Life”.

They are about honoring the power we have as individuals living in a free country to coexist peacefully.

Cold Day is about a young African American executed by police in Hunters Point (San Francisco) It addresses  the epidemic we are facing with police brutality,  power, fear, guns and senseless killing. Fear is a problem. And we do not have to live in fear. We have choices. And “all men are created equal” that is from our constitution. How DO we create peace? We need to put down the fear, and pride, and talk to each other. It is a potent message. A bold cut speaking to this issue. To see that we ALL want peace. Working together we can. We just can’t quit, and go about our lives as if that issue is for “other people” to figure out. Ultimately as people with freedom. we have the power to make change when we unite.

City Life is about how we get to be who we want to be. It is a fat groove, about how we are doing as a whole. To take time out to see the magic in living.

It is smooth, funky, melodic, and compelling.

While these tracks  are distinctly different, the message is similar. Having a voice, knowing our rights, how we have come to enjoy the freedom we know and love, standing up for our brothers and sisters is important .Having respect for others and for life itself, may inform choices we make in our communities  for the greater good.  They are both unique. And carry a strong message of equality and how all people can express who they are. These tracks really have a great balance.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? What made you decide to come back into the music business?

My evolution musically has become more fluid. I have more confidence to know that if I create something and allow others to also contribute their talent, it becomes so much bigger and more impactful. Its not all about me! LOL!

Each song has its own voice, so I am not pigeonholed into one genre.

My Producer on this latest CD wanted to explore more softer side of my voice, it has been great to evolve vocally on this project and explore new dimensions of what I can do.

I just don’t t feel whole if I am not working musically! I come back to music, and BAM, I understand who I am, why I am here, why we all are here… To create!

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

I think I would have to say  Elvis Presley! I think he came up in a time where he was on the cutting edge, and could tell great stories. Also, and his evolution and skills as a performer have always been intriguing. I would like to have some of his juju!!

So tell us what’s next?  

I am headed to the UK this week for some acoustic shows in London. and NYC to build some relationships and fan base in Europe.

A campaign  of “ Open Road” in the national college radio circuit and national radio airplay of my music.

Upcoming tour dates in support of the new release.  Playing  with my band in some festivals this year!

I am working a new recording project underway due out in the spring.

Placement deals with my music is also a project in the works.

Connecting with a promoter who hears what I am doing live and is on fire to put my band on a tour bus.

Also I have a clear  vision of  becoming a Grammy award winner.

So I was able to enter ‘Open Road to the Grammy ‘s this year.

 I am going to keep on truckin’

Thank you for the opportunity to share my music and ideas !!



About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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