A conversation with Stefanie Rose
stefYour facebook page tells a cute story about you being expelled twice in high school. Can you share it with us?
I was suspended a few times in high school for not being there – I did do a lot of traveling for singing so some of the time was legitimately missed, but mostly I just wanted to drink coffee in the music room and write arrangements with the school accompanist. I attended the Fine Arts program at my particular school but would often sneak off to a school downtown and attend their music history classes with a few of my friends there. The teacher praised my participation despite not being enrolled!
You obviously have a deep connection to nature, and your voice itself has a very ‘earthy’ quality to it. Have you ever thought of experimenting with nature sounds in your music?
Science and nature are my spirituality, and yes I suppose that I draw a lot from both in my interpretations. I once used the sound of a rainstorm in a recording I did of Faure’s Automne, but I’ve done more in the way of taking natural metaphors into my lyrics writing.
Have you ever experienced any anxiety about performing live? And if so, how did you cope with it?
Very truthfully, I’ve never experienced stage fright. Okay, my VERY first time singing publicly I was a bit shaky, but never again since then. It’s always been such a great payoff for me, I know how wonderful I feel stepping out onto the stage. In fact, I feel that the energy of the audience and of the venue elevate my performance tremendously – I’m only ever able to get 50% of my best effort in rehearsal. I’ve had worries about my voice cooperating, especially when tackling difficult operatic repertoire, but when I’m outside of such rigidity my vocal interpretation just sort of takes over and manages to work with whatever comes out.
Your version of ‘Poor Wayfuring Stranger’ is quite raw both vocally and emotionally, do you feel like you have a personal connection to the lyrics?
Poor wayfaring stranger was recorded for the soundtrack of a very dark, violent and gritty film about Philadelphia. I knew a number of the actors and had seen the film a few times before I recorded the track, which I wanted to infuse with that raw quality of the story.
I remember seeing something about you visiting Asia/Middle East, how have your travels influenced your sound?
I’ve sung in Thailand, Korea and Oman and I absolutely adore the far east. I don’t know that it’s influenced my sound a great deal, although I love using the vocal breaking technique found in traditional middle eastern singing. And, okay, I do write arrangements of songs using eastern beats and incorporating Asian instruments when I can. So I guess it has influenced the sound that I aim to create.
What has your vocal training experience been like?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with a handful of very famous teachers, all of whom had big careers in opera or Broadway, and they’ve each influenced my voice in their own way. However each seemed to try and pigeon hole my voice in a way that contradicted the last, and in the end I broke away. At this stage I’ve taken the foundation of technique that I was given and created something strange and personal with it. My authentic sound is something that I haven’t had the opportunity to record yet, but I hope to in the future. My love of classical music and yet my attraction to the alternative created a desire to experiment both in a performance sense and in my own vocal delivery. I intend to tell stories and create an atmosphere, and by using a deep opera-esque timbre with a speech-like, casual delivery, I feel I can accomplish that in an unaffected way.
Give me your top 5 songs to perform.
Honestly I couldn’t just rattle off 5 songs and call them my favorite. My tastes change with my mood. Sometimes I’m eager to reinvent Bach, sometimes I want to run a show of coloratura arias next to gritty Alt-J covers. There’s so much excellent music out there, and too much fun to be had with it for me to choose 5 or even 50 top songs.
If you were given the chance to a) record an album with an unlimited budget, b) perform a live show at any venue you chose or c) premiere a new work, classical or Broadway, which would you choose?
I think I’d definitely want to do a big live show. I have a number of avant-garde productions up my sleeve that I’ll continue to work on in the future, but I’d sure love a big budget to produce them with!
What is the most important thing for you to accomplish as an artist?
I don’t know what’s most important to me to accomplish as an artist. I know that I want my son to grow up and see that part of myself alongside my real career, but I don’t really give being an “Artist” much thought these days. I think being an artist just means to play. It’s fulfilling and enjoyable and makes life colorful. But family and friends are the canvas. Art just fills in the pigment.

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