Despite being only 18-years-old, Wollongong-based musician Stevan has a nuanced artistic identity, pulling from classic and contemporary references in equal measure. His style of dreamy, R&B influenced pop music glides between genres, making it pleasantly indefinable—he makes the type of songs that reverberate around your head for days after that first listen. They’re unusual, spacey, and catchy. The singer, songwriter, and producer’s musical journey began at a young age, listening to his father’s cassette collection—think Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and Bobby Brown. Later on, an interest in hip-hop and R&B led him to artists like Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino.
Musically, he’s self-taught. He emulated the greats, learning how to play guitar by watching videos of John Mayer’s live performances on YouTube and finessing his production skills by painstakingly analysing the techniques of influential producers like Pharrell Williams. His debut single ‘Timee’ was released earlier this year and he’s followed it up with his recently released single, ‘LNT’, a sunny sounding, heartfelt track. His obvious talent hasn’t gone unnoticed. This year alone, he’s signed with management company Astral People, inked an international record deal with Honeymoon Records and 300 Entertainment, who between them have signed artists like Rejjie Snow and Young Thug, and been on tour with Australian rap outfit Winston Surfshirt. But for all the whirlwind success, for Stevan, music still comes back to one thing; connection. We had a chat to him about his musical memories, his thoughts on astrology, and that one track he can’t stop listening to.
Hey Stevan! How long have you been making music for?
Since I was 12, my cousin set me up on to DatPiff and we pretty much spent that summer downloading free rap mixtapes. Stuff like Acid Rap by Chance, XXX by Danny Brown, Nostalgia Ultra by Frank Ocean, and 1999 by Joey Bada$$. I got hooked on the music and just started trying to replicate it.
What were you like as a child?
I was always super hyperactive and very energetic, I was also curious about everything! Nothing’s changed really.
What’s your first musical memory?
My dad had a Gospel Al Green documentary, [and] I remember hearing a song called ‘Pass Me Not’. I fell in love with the idea of music being able to connect people. He also had a documentary on Bobby Brown and I remember trying to dance and sing like him around the house. And this was at like four years old. I was a very strange kid.
What’s your star sign? Do you believe in astrology?
I’m a Pisces, and not really to be honest, I’m kind of trying to grow up and take responsibility for my actions. So I feel like having the option of blaming my positive or negative traits on a star sign is a bit of a cop out, but no shade to anyone that does believe, [it’s] just not my thing.
As you’ve gotten older, how has your relationship to your own identity evolved?
I’m realising that I’m not as strange as I once thought. I’m confident in failing and not being certain and I’m kinda realising that
no one’s really got it all figured out. We’re all out here doing our best—I just wanna keep developing and growing.
Tell us about your new single ‘LNT’? What’s it inspired by?
I want LNT to represent a feeling, this sounds sort of pretentious but LNT was inspired by feelings of fun, sunshine, and good times. I want people to feel the same way when they hear the song.
What was the last song or album that you were really obsessed with?
It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure but I’ve been absolutely loving ‘Good Kisser’ by Usher.
You play the drums—do you play on your own tracks?
Yeah I do everything on my songs, all production and songwriting. But on my Soundcloud song ‘Really’ you can really hear the live drums.
You taught yourself how to play guitar by watching YouTube videos of John Mayer. What’s something you’ve taught yourself to do recently? Do you like acquiring new skills?
Yeah I’m always trying to learn new skills on instruments, recently I’ve been all about slapping the bass. Mac Demarco and Toro Y Moi inspired me to play as many instruments as I could. Cause watching them pick up four different instruments and absolutely shred was always amazing to me. Oh and Jacob Collier the king of modern music is out here using Logic Pro, such a legend.
What’s next for you?
I’m ready to go as far as the fans take me. For now I’m just playing festivals and releasing new music which is great!
Check out Stevan’s new single ‘LNT’ above and for more follow him here.