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INTERVIEW: Steph Copeland

Hi Steph, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks VENTS! Doing great.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Nadia”?

Sure thing. I wrote Nadia when I was 16 on my parent’s kitchen floor in Wallaceburg, Ontario after consuming a pot of black coffee.  A snap shot of my teenage years. Nadia is a character that is a bit haunted by something she doesn’t understand. Looking for something a bit dangerous. Jeff Maher (Dir.) took the video shoot to Sitges, Spain in October to set the tone for Nadia’s story and it was perfect.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

More like an environment. Being an angsty adolescent in a small town made me a bit stir crazy. Dealing (or not dealing) with bullies and bad first relationships left me looking for something else no matter what it could be, good or bad.

How was the film experience?

Working with Jeff Maher was amazing because he is a cinematographer as well as a director. It was just us on the streets of Sitges and we filmed in 48 frames per second at night when everyone went to bed. My iPhone was playback and I just had 1 earphone running up my back under my hair.  We would wake up at 2pm, pound cappuccinos and tapas, get into character and be out shooting at midnight. It was mild and beautiful right beside the Mediterranean.

The single comes off your new album Public Panic – what’s the story behind the title?

There is a pretty palpable climate of fear constantly portrayed in media and used as a device to get you to buy things or vote for idiots and I’m calling attention to it. In the song “Machines” I get into how we are force fed things we can’t un-see and how it chips away at us on a sub conscious level. The pressure media puts on people to be or look a certain way just so you go buy a thing can drive you crazy. Even if you are savvy enough to know what is going on, it still has an underlying effect. A lot of the writing on Public Panic is becoming aware of how media has affected me, self-forgiveness and making a change.

How was the recording and writing process?

I recorded Public Panic at Holy Moly Studios in Toronto with producer Matt Rideout. I’d previously worked with Matt when he wrote a few tracks for and mixed entire films I scored, so we knew it was going to be a good fit. I tend to write a bit dark and Matt injected a bit more light into the sound. He is responsible for gorgeous guitar line in Nadia. For live drums we packed up a (way too small) rental car with Matt’s drums and recording gear and drove it to Windsor, Ontario where we recorded in a massive church for 3 days in August. The sound was amazing. It was sweaty and we could only record at night because we didn’t account for construction going on outside during the day. Well worth it and you can hear it in Matt’s drums.

What role does Horror and Mystery plays in your music?

I would say I fell into scoring horror movies because I was already a moody kid. I’ve always created dramatic music and songs with romantic, story based lyrics. Scoring for screen feels natural – all that big drama actually comes from songwriting and not the other way around. Now, I find my own pop music even more cinematic and something interesting seems to happen when I marry the worlds.

What is it about horror that fascinates you so much?

I wouldn’t say I’m fascinated with horror but I love how fun the music can be. There’s a lot of room for experimentation in the genre and that’s because horror is always pushing the boundary. It’s where you find the edgiest, weirdest ideas and some of the most interesting people. Those I’ve worked for and with on these films are some of the craziest, beautiful and hardworking people I’ve ever met.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are scoring a movie than when you are writing your own original material?

Totally.  They are two pretty different beasts. When I score a film I’m supporting someone else’s story by portraying emotion with sound. Collaborating with directors and producers to achieve a shared vision and then you execute. Songwriting is pretty cathartic and freeing as it’s just me. Though, being able to bring the tools I use for scoring to the pop table opens up a lot of doorways in the writing process and it’s completely satisfying.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

It’s easy to get into a grind when you are always playing live shows so I took some off from playing the bar scene when I began production on Public Panic. It was a pretty introspective time. Looking at failed relationships and new ones I wanted to preserve. Dealing with self destructive behaviours. In the song “Hannah” I drew inspiration from the H.W. Longfellow poem “There Was a Little Girl”. It talks about a girl who had a curl in the middle of her forehead. “When she was good she was very good indeed. When she was bad she was horrid”. This theme of duality appears throughout the album.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! We are brushing up for a Canadian tour this fall with songs from Public Panic and a lot of new ones. Very excited to get on the road and share them.

What else is happening next in Steph Copeland’s world?

I’m currently scoring a TV show pilot (nothing scary) and start a web series in the coming weeks.  Co-writing songs with some incredible artists in Toronto and Vancouver. Getting ready for fall with the band and we just bought our first house!

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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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