Stephanie Cheape on new music, working with Twin Atlantic and gender inequality in the music industry
Written by Music on 26th November 2019
Written by Mackenzie Burns
“All I hope for in life is good health, the rest can come and go.” These were the measured parting words of up and coming Scottish songstress Stephanie Cheape, just before her rapturous Glasgow homecoming on Friday 22nd November.
Having spent most of 2019 away from the stage, Cheape is feeling reflective but also optimistic about her new material, slated for release early next year. Radio Caley’s Mackenzie Burns sat down with her to get all the details.
How would you describe the new music?
“It’s exciting, we’ve really refined the sound but also for me it’s about creating this emotional impact. It’s completely different from Blood, Sweat and Fear because you change as an adult and the new stuff is definitely more mature but it’s about conveying emotion, through the music and I’m confident we’ve done that.”
Are we looking at singles, an E.P or an album?
We’re looking at an E.P. We have enough for an album but I still want to sort of earn that. I want to release little bits first. I don’t even know what I want to eat tonight let alone what to put in an album so it’s a lot of decision making. It’s a good place to be in though, having enough for an album.”
You worked with a few notable artists and producers during the creation of these new tracks. Can you tell us about some of them?
I did some writing with Sam McTrusty and Ross McNae (Twin Atlantic) earlier in the year. They just get you so excited, they’re daft and fun. Working with Lewis Gardiner and Garry Aird has been brilliant too, they’re straight talking and brutal. We had a couple of song ideas and they were like nope, can that. I appreciate honesty, just tell me how it is. It’s interesting how working with different people brings out different things musically.”
What are your thoughts on the Glasgow music scene currently?
Well I’m super-excited for Twin Atlantic coming back as they’ve just released their new single Novocaine, and then there’s Prides as well. As for more up and coming acts we have support today from a band called Lorays. I respect all these acts for their graft because it doesn’t come easy and it’s tough out there. There’s a lot of eyes on Scotland just now.”
Favourite gig you’ve ever been to?
The thing that made me want to get into music was when I went to see Hard-fi live. Also just the other week I went and saw an Irish artist called Foy Vance. He’s huge for me. I mean they’re completely different shows but you can take something from them both. The magic of a live show is you can absorb a little bit of someone’s passion and channel it in yourself.
What are you expecting from your Glasgow homecoming show?
Do you know what? Just drama, absolute drama! I’ve put a lot into the little things for this show. Life is hectic and difficult and there is a lot of pressure on people of all ages. If I can create something that takes someone’s mind off of that for an hour then that’s what I want to do. Music is an escape for me so if I can translate that I’m doing well.
How do you feel the music industry has addressed issues of gender inequality?
“I can’t say recently that I’ve experienced discrimination but I have had that in the past. You just need to show your teeth. I’ve had a lot of support from influential men in the industry. The guys I’ve worked with are successful in Scotland so are competitors really, but they don’t see it like that, it’s so refreshing. We’re not there yet but like I wrote about in one of the new songs called ‘Here I Am,’ I don’t take any nonsense, I’m as bold as the boys and if you don’t like it then I don’t care. The Queen Tuts Stage at TRNSMT this year was a great addition as well.”
Despite these challenges you obviously still enjoy what you do. Is it studio time or the live setting you enjoy more?
I’ve been away from the live setting for a while now so I’d say I miss that more. I’m excited for tonight but I’m also super nervous. I love the studio it’s just that I’ve been there so much now that I’m looking forward to doing some shows. They’re both equally as important and you can’t put your all into one and half into another.”
What is the highlight of your career so far?
There’s been so many. Playing TRNSMT, the Bandstand and meeting Annie Lennox stand out, but I think the highlight of my career so far has been other bands taking me under their wing. For example when I first met the boys from Twin (Atlantic) we geeked out talking about Avril Lavigne and then they were just like you need a lawyer and they put me in touch with their lawyer who Biffy Clyro gave them. So yeah, things like that where they don’t need to but they still do are so nice. Everyone’s competing in this world but support like that still means the world.
In conversation, Stephanie Cheape is initially reserved and unassuming. But get her fired up and she’s not afraid to tell you exactly what she thinks. This fire extends to the stage where her fierce performances channel Lorde and Stevie Nicks. A relatable mix of joy, melancholy and frustration are delivered with charisma and just a touch of vulnerability. As we prepare to enter a new decade a new dark-pop princess is waiting. But not for long.
Find out more about Stephanie Cheape:
Tickets for her Hogmanay performance at Stirling Castle: https://stirlingevents.org/choose-seats/?eventID=hogmainevent&eventpageid=4426&fbclid=IwAR1xV8WuGPFE14szF14oWa3M3e538XBncOBnDAAny40uay_MsAnwk9LYq10