British singer-songwriter Steph Sweet freely admits she’s a “refined taste” but it’s difficult to not be intrigued by her feisty, often contentious approach to pyschy acoustic indie-rock meets punk brand of music.
In Steph’s words: “Steph Sweet isn’t easy listening, it’s not always comfortable listening, but it is rewarding. It’s poetic, it’s intelligent and it sounds like it inhabits it’s own world.” And we couldn’t agree more. Her style is laid-back yet punchy, relaxing yet aggressive. It’s a real assault on the senses, in a mellow manner.
Case in point, most recent single Not Your Pussy which, as song titles go, is pretty out there. A rumbling sound opens up, then a big bassy guitar sound before a distorted riff jumps in alongside Steph’s edgy vocals “Post post-feminist, Full-time work and chores and dishes, Pro-bionic modern woman, Stretched so thin in sticky prisons, Post post-feminist sisters, Gym and gin and running blisters, Festivals and Las Vegas witches, Soho home stars and post-op stitches.”
The driving guitar riff continues under occasional cries of “Stretched too thin,” then drops out leaving a fuzzy bassline under Steph’s vocals “Post post-feminist, I get to work and wash all the dishes, Mustn’t forget to shave my fanny, If there’s a hair then maybe he won’t like me.” The guitar kicks back in under a repeat of the vocals then intensifies under repeats of “It’s not yours, It’s mine.” Give it a listen in the video below:
Steph’s music varies from laid-back indie through to more upbeat, punk-tinged tracks like All The Things, the opener to Observation Ward. It opens up with repeating guitar riff with funky synth sounds over the top before dropping into a verse dominated by Steph’s echoey vocals. The opening guitar returns under the chorse vocals “It’s too brutal, Finding it hard to breathe.”
A second chorus gives way to a return of the opening guitars alongside a big bassline, the pace drops down a little, before bursting into a big final blast of the chorus. Check it out in the super cool video below:
Then there’s more upbeat, rockier tracks like the super cool, albeit somewhat dreamy sounding He Told You Twice, which you can listen to below.
We had a chat with Steph to find out more, give it a read below…
GR: Who is Steph Sweet?
SS: “Steph Sweet is my musical self and I’m half English and half Irish, of Scandinavian descent. A tall, green-eyed, natural redhead, feisty, moody, funny, affectionate. Meh.
“Fascinating fact: my great-grandfather was a Druid.”
GR: You just released Not Your Pussy. Now that is a song title!! Dare we ask… What should people be expecting from the song? And what inspired you to write it?
SS: “Hah, well I knew it was a contentious title right from the off. I was trying to warp the common expectation of what this song should be. And I’m really back into punk at the moment, so it’s kind of a homage to The Slits and X-ray Specs, as well as the new feminist punk bands like Dream Nails and Fisty Muffs.
“I wrote this for an international DJ. She dated a guy with hands like petri-dish colonies, who was nagging her, late at night, to get her fanny shaved. Understandably, after working, cooking and then cleaning his house and tending to his children, she was exhausted and unimpressed. All the women I know are really hot and really busy, so yeah, I was just trying to make a social observation, even if it is a bit cheeky.”
The track comes from your debut album, which is out now too. What should people be expecting from the rest of your music?
SS: “Eclectic. That’s the best way to sum me up. Some songs are psychedelic acoustics, full of tambourines and twelve-strings, like drifting away on a sunny day. And others like Pussy are in your face, dream-punk indie rock. I’ve always liked that juxtaposition of a sweet, choral melody, with a vicious lyric and killer bass and drums.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
SS: “Whale music for the deaf. On a bad day anyway. I’m a refined taste, but I’m the real deal. The eternal outsider. Music from the heart in a broken world. Underground music and outsider art.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
SS: “I’ve been making music for a long time, it’s my passion. I tend to write about the dark underbelly of life, stories of blood and love, spells and unlikely animals. The unhappiest times in my life have been when I’m not making music. And then I disappear like Alice.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
SS: “Debbie Harry. Kate Bush. Janis Joplin. Patti Smith. The Doors. Elliott Smith. QOTSA. I have thousands more…”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019? New music, new gigs, recording etc…?
SS: “I am really excited to be going into the studio with drunkeninstrumentcorporation (aka Marco Abbá). He is an amazing musician. We’re going to write and record the EP in Italy and England over the autumn/winter.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
SS: “It’s all from my heart. And a lot of it’s about being broken. Sometimes it’s good to just open up and say what we really feel, even if it is only in a song.”