Rough caught up with Steph Thomson, a young saccharine voiced singer better known as Steffaloo, for an interview that is long overdue. Steph is an in-house fave of Rough and we were elated when she agreed to give us an interview!
Steffaloo is a pretty cool name! What's the story behind this?
Haha, well it's actually pretty silly really. When I first moved to LA I worked at a Starbucks for a few months and for whatever reason one of my co-workers started calling me 'Steffaleupagus' (like the sesame street character) and then it just eventually morphed into 'Steffaloo' and stuck. I’d used it as sort of a brand name for a bunch of my art and photography, so when I started making music it just made sense for me to keep that name. Honestly I’ve wished I could change it numerous times.. I just might one day haha
What did you listen to growing up?
I grew up in a pretty conservative Christian house so my exposure to a lot of good music was pretty narrow. we listened to a lot of gospel music. my mom would wake us up on Sunday mornings by blasting music through the whole house haha. what I didn't realise though was that I was getting some pretty good exposure to some of the greatest artists out there because my dad would listen to nothing but oldies. we had these old cassette tapes with all the greatest hits on them. artists like the platters, Dion and the Belmonts, chuck berry, elvis, the drifters, the Chantels, the Beatles, Ricky nelson.. I didn't know it then, but they were some of the greatest of their time and pioneers in a lot of ways to the music we have today.
When and how did you begin singing and recording?
Well, singing/music has always been a part of my life really. my mom, sister, and I sang together growing up at church functions and what not but it was never something I was totally into. I played a lot of sports growing up so music was kind of always on the back burner for me, though it was always something I loved and connected with. when I moved out to LA six years ago though, it slowly became something I found more and more comfort in. before I knew it I HAD to do it. I couldn't not do it. it just kind of poured out of me in a way that I never expected it to so I just went with it. I didn't start actually thinking about recording any of it and sharing it with people until I started becoming more a part of the music blog community that my brother (smokedontsmoke) was a part of. once that happened it was all history.
What originally inspired and presently inspires you to create music?
I know it sounds a bit cliché, but life really is the most inspiring thing to me in regards to creating just about anything. life has a way of bringing people and experiences in and out of our lives in such a way that is so much bigger than us.. it's that 'bigger than' that brings out everything I write and sing about. it's those things that I want to understand, or haven't until now; those things that have somehow made their mark on me in some way. that is the most inspiring thing in the world to me.. just being brave enough to live. haha
In the ever-widening universe of musical genres, do you feel you fit into any specific niche?
Goodness, I have no idea what genre I’d fit into. I like to say I play dream folk. hahaha.. really I’d just like to be able to easily adapt to any genre or niche. that's why I love doing collaborations so much :)
I really like your latest release 'if you were my baby' from your upcoming album expected this Autumn, what was the inspiration or story behind this?
Ahh thank you! actually this is one of the only songs I’ve ever written that wasn't actually in regards to a specific person or experience I’d had with someone haha. I think when I wrote this I was just in a place of being able to imagine myself with someone that made me feel like the sun was brighter and the blues bluer because he was so great ha. it was more of a hopeful, wishing thinking type of song. it was essentially me saying, 'if I was that guys baby things would be awesome' type of thing you know? now I just have to find that guy.. ;)
How would you describe your relationship with the music you create; what atmosphere do you want to create and how do you feel when recording and listening to the work you have made?
Oh goodness, me and my music have a very intense relationship haha. everything I write usually has something to do with something or someone I have just had an experience with, which usually ends up coming out as a very personal, very emotional piece of writing. it is essentially my way of processing a lot of things. sometimes I don't know what's in there until I start playing, other times I know I just have to get something out in order to breathe again. in that sense I think my hope is that I’m creating a sense of realness in what I make. just about every song I record is recorded in my room by myself ha, so in a way I guess I’m inviting people into that space, into my own experience in hopes that they too have maybe felt something like I have. I think having the ability to share those things with other people makes us feel a little more normal, a little less messed up you know? Jeff Buckley once said,
"Music comes from a very primal, twisted place. when a person sings, their body, their mouth, their eyes, their words, their voice says all these unspeakable things that you really can’t explain but that mean something anyway. people are completely transformed when they sing; people look like that when they sing or when they make love. but it’s a weird thing—at the end of the night I feel strange, because I feel I’ve told everybody all my secrets. "
That's really how I feel about mine or anyone else's relationship with music. :)
Your work with Sun Glitters is amazing, I loved "It's Monday But It's Not' and the remix of 'Red Runs Free', how did that collaboration come about?
Thank you! victor (sun glitters) is one of the nicest people I know and I absolutely love his work. I’d first heard him through my brother’s blog (smokedontsmoke) and instantly fell in love. not too soon after that, victor contacted me and asked if I’d be up for doing some songs with him, which of course I was more than excited about! so that's really how it happened- the wonderful world of the internet!
The work from this collaboration has a dreamy slightly melancholic quality, what inspired that sound?
Well I think that's what victor and I had in common and why our sounds ended up working so well together. we both have a bit of a brooding element in what we make and yet there's some kind of glittering hope in everything we do as well.. he's definitely been one of my favourite artists to work with.
Which other producers, and/or artists would you like to work with in future?
Oh man, well if I’m dreaming big I’d love to do something with Trevor of 'youth lagoon', or someone of that nature. while I absolutely love collaborating with electronic artists, I think it'd be fun to branch out and work with artists who have a little more subtle and folky sound as it were. but I’d love to work with Girraffage, slow magic, ghost loft.. any of those guys to name a few :)
What are you listening right now?
Right now, in lieu of my next album coming out, I’ve been listening to a lot of folky, jazzy, mellow stuff like Agnes Obel, Koop, daughter, Lianne la Havas, and always Feist.. but I 'm always jamming on that good stuff like Girraffage, tours, Boneglow, and pretty much anything Portals puts up haha <3
You can hear Steffaloo's tracks on her Bandcamp page.