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Exclusive Interview: Stephie Coplan and the Pedestrians

| February 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Perhaps one of the most exciting things along the artistic journey of self-discovery and creative expression is the moment when you stop trying to be like everyone else, and embrace who you truly are.  Such was the case for Stephie Coplan, singer-songwriter and front woman for Stephie Coplan and the Pedestrians, an energetic and bold new band bursting through the New York music scene and into the hearts of fans all over the country. In addition to the recent release of their self-titled debut EP and subsequent tour, Stephie and the band were voted The Deli Magazine’s “Artist of the Month” and deemed the People’s Choice Award at the Hoboken Music Awards, not to mention the abundance of steady press attention and positive fan feedback in between and following. Channeling the energy of Gwen Stefani blended with keen piano chops and empowering lyrics, Stephie and the boys are sure to continue luring the crowd with the perfect balance of mischievous fun and scintillating sound.

How did you and your band meet, and how long have you been playing together?

We’ve been trying to come up with a good story, since the truth isn’t that cool.  We met on Craigslist.  I always forget that that’s how we actually met because our chemistry feels so real and organic and un-Craigslisty…meaning no one in the band is creepy and/or potentially dangerous.  I met John in November 2010 and we met Shane in March 2011.  Our first gig together as a trio was a week later.

Who came up with the concept for “Jerk!” and how did you create the look and feel of the video?

At the time, I was going through a huge “Mad Men” phase (still am, can’t wait for the new episodes in March!)  Our director, David Dutton (who did “Internet Killed the Video Star” by The Limousines, “The Summer Place” by Fountains of Wayne and lots of other cool stuff) asked me if I had any ideas for the video.  I told him that I was really into the sixties and wanted to either be a Bond girl or a housewife.  He wrote the treatment and I loved it.  David lives in San Francisco and happened to only be in NYC for a few days so we shot the whole thing in 14 hours.  He did the entire shoot himself without a crew – he’s maybe the most talented person I’ve ever met in my life.

What has been the biggest challenge for you in transitioning from a solo singer-songwriter to fronting a band? Has it changed the way you write and approach your music?

Ooooh, good question.  I think the biggest difference is that nowadays, when I write songs, I always check myself as I go along to make sure that it’ll work live.  When I was a soloist, I could throw in random time signature changes or I could stop in the middle of a lyric to sigh or make a joke.  When it’s just you up there, you can do anything you want.  But when you’re with a band, you can’t be so impulsive and the structure of the songs has to be a little more scripted, or your band members will be like, woahhh what is happening?  You have to find other ways to improvise to make each performance unique, which is really important, I think.

Who and what stimulates your musical style? 

Some of my favorite songwriters are Ben Folds, Adam Schlesinger, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Amber Rubarth, Elliott Smith, John K. Samson, and Freddie Mercury.  I also draw inspiration from past experiences and people I know.  And I’m a big fan of people-watching.

It’s New Years Eve, 2011. What resolutions have you made for this year, and how many have you broken so far?

Eeeee.  I made a resolution that I would go out and see live music three times a week in 2012.  In reality, I have only averaged about one show a week.  Bad Stephie!

What’s the biggest musical risk you’ve ever taken… and how did it change things for you?

When I first started playing out at open mics in 2009, I was lucky to be part of a very supportive music scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The most popular genre was neo-soul and I thought that I had to fall into that genre, too if I wanted to be successful.  I ignored the fact that my voice is totally not meant to sing soul music. I wrote a bunch of songs that could not have been more inappropriate and unflattering for my voice and was mystified when people didn’t like it.  I thought….”but wait, I thought this is what you guys like!  Why don’t you like me?  I just want you to like me!”  I banged my head against a wall for a few months and then finally gave up and started writing for myself.  It was a style that no one else in the scene was doing – sort of the Ben Folds piano rock/jazz thing – and I figured everyone would think I was weird.  I prepared myself to be an outsider.  So you can imagine that I was really, really amazed and surprised when people ended up embracing it.  I’ve been working on refining my style over the past couple years and it feels very rewarding to finally know exactly who I am as an artist.

Be sure to follow Stephie on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her music and tour dates at www.stephiecoplan.com.

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