STACEY is a Toronto singer-songwriter and friend/collaborator/fan of Bicyclette Boutique.
She is a girl that leaves an impression. Whether it's meeting this happy and bubbly girl briefly at a party (read: how I met her 5 years ago) or watching her express her deepest emotions on stage, singing and playing piano with a rawness and honesty that is not soon forgot. Her songs linger with you, their depth haunting you and giving you chills as you watch her sing about longing, love, mistakes and how "the worst part's wanting more." She is not only beautiful, but intelligent - a striking combination. She studied engineering, is working for a digital ad agency but still dedicating her nights to writing chilling and sexy love songs. That intelligence has definitely helped her navigate the music industry. While producing her first EP, she went straight to the experts and decided not to release anything online, but instead was patient and focused on perfecting her image and sound. In a culture and time that encourages us to flaunt ourselves all over social media, STACEY refrains and allows her audience to grow by watching her play live, patiently awaiting the release of her album. So as we all wait for her sultry and stunning music to hit the net, we decided to learn more about this mysterious girl in this week's 'Girl Crush.' Sometimes the best things in life are worth the wait, and STACEY knows this all too well.
I've had the privilege of hearing your music, but if someone doesn't come to your live shows they won't be able to find your music yet. Is this mystic intentional? and for people who do not know your music how do you describe it?
It’s not really intentional, to be honest. I just finished recording my first album and it's taken a while to gather all the ingredients I need to do a proper release. I also need to make sure all of these pieces (songs, artwork, photos, videos) coalesce well in the grander scheme of things, so I've refrained from throwing anything onto the internet in a hurry just for the sake of having something on the internet. I'm trying to be careful and patient, while playing as much as possible to craft my live show in the mean time.
In terms of the music, I have trouble placing its genre. But it's sensual and sometimes haunting. It's raw, honest and emotional with lingering elements of nostalgia, heartache, and desire. Sullen, yet sexual… a bit of an odd combination that’s easier felt than articulated in words.
I know that style definitely plays a role in your stage presence and helps you create a mood for your audience. How would you describe that style, and what inspires you?
I try to keep the mood as intimate as possible. I usually stick to something simple and classic: a black dress, some curls and red lipstick. Nothing over the top. I don't want my visual aesthetic to distract from the sound, but rather subtly compliment the musical ambiance.
Style wise, I'm inspired by a few of my friends who work at or frequent different boutiques and vintage stores in Toronto. A lot of my show outfits have come from Bicyclette, Sub Rosa, and Penny Arcade.
I know your songs are very personal and that emotion is always exposed on stage and through your songs. Have you always worn your heart on your sleeve or do you find it easier to express yourself with music?
I think I've always been an overly sensitive person and definitely in tune with my emotions but it's actually something I tend to hide. The particular thoughts and feelings that I attempt to bury and contain are those that inevitably surface in my songwriting, which I think creates this confusing dynamic with my personality; I'm generally a happy person and like to keep things light. But when I'm writing songs in my bedroom, I'm looking to express something that I need to get out of my system and to convey those feelings in a meaningful, transparent way. Playing these songs in front of people is something I constantly have to talk myself into. It’s intimidating but also liberating.
A live show that left you breathless ...
I saw Wild Nothing at the Great Hall last year and it was wonderful. I love their songs and they put on such a great show. The Great Hall is also one of my favourite Toronto venues.
You were my music buddy during this summers NXNE shows. What shows excited you and what does the Toronto music scene mean to you?
The most exciting shows for me were local acts and friends' bands. Some of which include July Talk (see Leah's 'Girl Crush' feature), Invasions, Elsa, Michael Rault, Decades, The Darcys, and Reuben and The Dark. I also saw Mikal Cronin. All of the above were pretty spectacular in terms of both sound and stage presence. Oh! Coeur De Pirate at the Great Hall was also really lovely.
The Toronto music scene means everything to me. It's why I'm here. I fell in love with the city as a teenager. I’d take the train downtown, sometimes two or three times a week, to catch different shows. There’s always something happening and there’s some truly amazing talent coming out of Toronto. Many artists within the music community are really inclusive and supportive of each other as well. It’s such an inspiring and exciting environment. At the same time, it can be a little overwhelming because I don't really know where I fit amongst the different shades of scenes. It's always tricky finding the right bill to play on.
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." Do you believe creative success is based on fate or determination? What does success look like to you?
Probably a combination of both. Determination and hard work have to come first though. The music industry is so saturated; you really have to try to come up with new and interesting ways to get people’s attention. It takes a lot of time, effort, and brainstorming. Not that I’ve accomplished this, but I recognize the importance of it.
Success would mean being able to be a musician for a living. All I want to do is write and play and tour and meet new people. That would be a dream.
You have a lot of friends in the music industry, what is the best advice you have been given?
There are a few people who have been incredibly generous with their time and wisdom. I think the best advice I've gotten would probably be to only release things I’m proud of and not to rush anything. Lots of ongoing knowledge and support has come from Alex Bonenfant, who I did my EP with, Cole Stephenson and Alex Zenkovich (thanks guys).
What are some of your favourite pieces right now at Bicyclette?
I just bought a silver sparkly/sequiny dress and a lacey vintage style beige dress from the shop! I also love that black velvet corset. I keep eyeing it every time I visit.
Your favourite secret place in Toronto is?
Some of these aren't so secret, but based on this past summer, here are some winners:
My backyard. Kensington Market. The Silver Dollar. Philosopher’s Walk. An abandoned parkade. The Whale Tail. The Junction Flea Market. The fire escape on the architecture building at U of T… but you didn’t hear it from me.
What does magic mean to you?
Magic to me is human connection. When you can relate with someone on such a deep, genuine level, and have a real understanding of each other, it can be euphoric. It's why I write the way I do. I think this is the form of real life magic that most people look and live for.