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A Dirty Dozen with STACY ANTONEL – June 2022

| 21 June 2022 | Reply

Photo credit: Natia Cinco

According to a recent press release: “Nashville-based retro Americana singer-songwriter Stacy Antonel is set to release her debut album, Always the Outsider, independently on June 17, 2022. An idiosyncratic artist with a background in classical piano, Antonel makes clever Americana that feels both vintage and hyper-modern at the same time. Rooted in classic country but influenced by jazz, pop, and R&B, her throwback “country jazz” style conjures the ’20s-’30s musical era when jazz and country weren’t such disparate genres. Always the Outsider features compelling, narrative storylines (taking a page from Willie Nelson’s songbook), agile vocal melodies, and unexpected thematic twists.” We get Stacy to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The album is called Always the Outsider, and thematically it’s really true to the title: the songs are about being an outsider in a variety of ways. I moved to Nashville on my own a few years ago, and I’ve also been digging into a lot of metaphysical concepts that have made their way into the songs, like aliens and past lives. I also had a difficult romantic relationship over quarantine that inspired a lot of the songs. I’m a very literal lyricist, so I’m not intentionally putting any Easter eggs in there, but some of the lyrics are probably pretty weird. For example, I wrote a song about how before I came to earth as Stacy Antonel, my soul was in a purely mathematical, unembodied plane of existence for hundreds of years. That’s pretty unintelligible unless I tell the story on stage (ha!).

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I started studying classical piano when I was seven, and I’ve been singing to myself my whole life, but I never really considered music as a career choice until my twenties. I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a year, and pretty randomly did a few shows with a friend’s band. When I got back to the States, I started singing at bars and weddings, and it became clear for the first time that a life in music was actually possible. There wasn’t really a specific moment; I just gradually realized that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and that it fulfills me in a really unique way.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Willie Nelson, particularly the early stuff. His lyrical wit and jazzy melodic choices really spoke to me and made songwriting seem possible.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Dead: Sam Cooke. Alive: Emmylou Harris, because I’ve always felt a kinship with her musical interpretations, her vocal delivery, and the way she surrounds herself with out-of-this-world players.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I work three jobs in addition to music, so the infrequent spare time I have is usually dedicated to helping my brain not explode. I go on a lot of walks at Shelby, the local greenway, and I’m learning to meditate. I listen to podcasts: “Armchair Expert” is my jam these days.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

My music is vintage country with contemporary subject matter and jazzy chord progressions. Very heavy on vocals and showcasing the musicians’ talent. Recently this man at a show repeatedly insisted that I sounded EXACTLY like a famous Mexican singer, whose name I’ve since forgotten. I think he meant it as a compliment, but having a unique voice is pretty paramount in this industry. I don’t want to sound like anyone, ’cause that means it’s been done.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Sadly none of us cook. My guitar player, Paul Sgroi, and I get some whiskey going, and he’ll play fiddle tunes into infinity, all the while cracking his patented “your dad” jokes.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

The year was 2012. I was in the doorway of Merchant’s, a Nashville diner, when John Corbett walked in (aka Aidan from “Sex and the City”). I started trying to discreetly get my friend’s attention, to no avail. He saw my wide-eyed, slack-jawed face and said, “It’s me, it’s me,” as he walked past. That’s the only time I’ve been starstruck in the sense that I lost control of my faculties.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part of being a musician is being able to take the best parts of childhood into adulthood. You get to hang out and make cool shit with your friends in a way that most adults can’t prioritize. You get to extend and focus upon the process of self-discovery all throughout your life. Were I not in music, I would probably be working in the non-profit sector for social justice or environmental issues. I also think I’d be a baller politician because I’m incapable of lying, but maybe the system would corrupt me in the end.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I have a cool answer to “What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?”: In Argentina I worked as a virtual assistant to a radio psychic in Pennsylvania, scheduling her appointments for $6/hr. It was supposed to be a secret that I didn’t live in PA, so people would ask me for really specific directions to her office, and I had to pretend I knew what I was talking about. I get a little tired of answering “Any fun stories from the studio?” because the answer is no. We went in there and we played instruments and then it was over. In my experience, nothing really interesting happens in studios, because time is money and we had to record 12 tracks in three days. Back in the day, when people spent months chillin’ in the studio, it was a different story.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I thought long and hard about this question, and the answer is no, there’s no singular moment that stands out to me. In general, I wish I’d been able to not spend years mired in self-doubt about my worthiness as a singer and performer, but it’s all part of the process.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” recorded at RCA Studio B in Nashville. I’ve been in that studio many times because I worked at the Country Music Hall of Fame for years. I would be thrilled to be in the room for anything that was recorded there (from Dolly to the Everly Brothers to Willie Nelson), but I’m a big Elvis fan, and that session is legendary. The lights down low to set the mood, Elvis doing the monologue, the Jordanaires “oooing” in the corner, everything pre-Pro Tools and pitch correction.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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