03 March 2012

Stephen Vs Stephen Answers 5

When I first listened to Stephen Vs. Stephen’s deubt EP, “And Yet,” I was immediately drawn into its multi-references to past musical trends and its air of current urgency and relevance. There was no doubt that I was going to review this EP (link). Stephen Vs. Stephen is the brainchild of Stephen Sandknop, a truly independent and nascent musician. So nascent indeed that you will be pressed to find out information on him on the Internet, which led my urgency to want to ask him a few questions. A few e-mails later, I would like to thank Stephen Sandknop for taking the time to Answer 5.

(Stephen Sandknop of Stephen Vs. Stephen)

1. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Gosh. My musical influences are pretty diverse – everything from Sonic Youth to Wilson Philips. The “And Yet EP” is a direct offshoot of the albums “She's So Unusual” and “I Say, I Say, I Say” by Cyndi Lauper and Erasure, respectively. Both albums got me through a rather rough period of time and were hugely inspiring to me. Lately I've been trying to make myself listen to newer music (I'm usually stuck firmly in the 80s and 90s). Some of my favorite tracks at the moment are by Jonsi and Bon Iver. Really amazing stuff, musically, and it's nice to hear guys sing like they aren't bored with life. Aside from musical influences, I've written several songs while watching David Lynch films on mute. It works every time.

2. You are truly an independent and nascent musician, with little information out there about you and your music. Could you tell us three things about yourself as a lover of music and musician that we should know about you?

Three things you should know about me… Barbra Streisand and Courtney Love taught me to sing… Most of my songs don't have bridges because when I try to add them they almost always become an entirely new song… I'm an Aries. I've been told this explains why I actually have terrible rhythm. I finally found myself an awesomely sexy Leo boyfriend, though, and I'm never letting go of him (he has rhythm).

3. One of the things I love about your music is that it references so much, from synthpop to shoegaze. So I am wondering when you sit down to compose a song, are all of these references something that you keep in mind or is the process more organic?

I'd say it's a bit more organic; I don't sit down and think to myself "today I'm going to write that long-lost OMD track." I do try, however, to surround myself with things that inspire me and fit my ideals. I love Christmas lights and unusual paintings and old furniture. I listen to synthpop a lot when I want to be energized or while cleaning and shoegaze when I'm driving. I drive a Honda from 1988 and sometimes when I drive I like to pretend I live in another era. Nothing makes me feel groovier than listening to “Automatic” by The Jesus and Mary Chain while driving and smoking and wearing really cool sunglasses. I'd like that kind of thing to be present in my music, yes.

(Stephen Sandknop of Stephen Vs. Stephen)

4. SlowdiveMusic Blog ranked “The Void” in Top Tracks of 2011. We demand to know the genesis of this song!

"The Void" was a collaboration with an Australian Internet friend of mine named Robbie Goldstein. We met on an old Courtney Love fan board called KittyRadio back in the mid-2000s and started exchanging song ideas and sexy pictures. One evening he sent a song idea my way that he'd put together in Reason. It sent shivers down my spine and within a matter of hours I'd workshopped the structure with him and added vocals to it. The vocals on the final version are from that first run through. By the time it came out on the EP I'd added some guitar, a real snare drum, and more layered instruments. It remains one of my very favorite things I've ever helped create.

5. What’s on your plate at this moment? Any new music we can expect soon?

It's coming, slowly but surely! Right now I'm just expecting the EP to take off…any minute now. But in all seriousness, there's an upcoming sci-fi film called “Goliad Uprising” by Indie filmmaker Paul Bright that's going to feature one or more of the tracks from the EP. Apparently, one song in particular is going to be playing during the opening credits and I could not be more PSYCHED! Aside from that, I've just moved to Los Angeles and the sky's the limit, so they say. I'm looking for work as a production assistant on various film projects, and in the interim Hayden Hall and Jugger Naut of the fabulous synthpop band Professor Possessor are shooting an overtly sexy music video for "The Difference Between Us." I'm expecting it to be genius per their usual work, and the three of us are also in talks of starting a throwback 1960s boy band. I can't tell you how excited I am to start doing live shows again! Sky's the limit, indeed.

Keep up with Stephen Vs. Stephen at his Bandcamp page (where you can preview and download the “And Yet EP”) and check out his YouTube Channel, SBSandknop – interesting “Pyscho” influenced clip there!

Here is Stephen Vs. Stephen’s song “The Void” from his Bandcamp page.

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