“There was a time when I looked back and re­gret­ted leav­ing that world. But at this point, I def­i­nitely see it as a valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

it’s a great place to grow as an artist. You can see how oth­ers work and be en­cour­aged and mo­ti­vated by that. But in terms of the mu­sic I wanted to make, I felt I was alone in some re­gards. I re­mem­ber think­ing when I started that I didn’t know any­one who was do­ing what I was do­ing. There didn’t seem to be any­one else ex­per­i­ment­ing with elec­tronic mu­sic in this way.”

Now, when she looks back on first al­bum Join Us, Stel­ma­nis can see the lim­i­ta­tions that ham­pered her work. “The re­sources I had to work with were very lo-fi. All I had was a very ba­sic home stu­dio with a sam­ple bank and that’s what I used to write the songs. There were cer­tain sam­ples and sounds which I was quite par­tial to us­ing quite fre­quently and that shows on the al­bum.”

For Feel It Break, Stel­ma­nis knew it was time for some changes to pro­duce a new shape and sound. “For a start, I wanted it to be­come a more col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­ject, and it didn’t make sense for it to be un­der just my name. It also took time to get it done, both to it get it recorded and to get it re­leased.

“There’s songs from the last four years on it so it’s hard to see any theme link­ing them all to­gether, but it def­i­nitely feels like a stronger col­lec­tion of songs to me. It’s not about fads or fash­ions, I think there’s a real depth to the songs and I hope peo­ple can see that. I don’t want to be seen as some­one who just hap­pens to be pop­u­lar right now.”

One of the most wel­come trans­for­ma­tions for Stel­ma­nis has been in terms of her live show. Hark­ing back to her opera days, she wanted a show that would pack a punch – and an Aus­tra per­for­mance cer­tainly ticks that box with Stel­ma­nis and her band play­ing out of their skins.

“The per­for­mance el­e­ment is now a huge part of what we do and it’s al­ways been some­thing I’ve loved do­ing. I’ve al­ways wanted to bring in as much as I can in terms of the­atrics into the band’s live show. One of the rea­sons I love opera is that it uses ev­ery art form at the same time. You have the lyrics, you have the mu­sic, you have acting, you have the art di­rec- tion and I’ve love how all these el­e­ments come to­gether.”

Stel­ma­nis also con­tin­ues to man­age her­self, though she ex­pects this sit­u­a­tion will change soon. It’s in­ter­est­ing to come across an artist at this stage of a ca­reer, with world­wide op­por­tu­ni­ties and tours to be con­sid­ered and man­aged, who com­bines both the ad­min­is­tra­tive and cre­ative sides.

“I sup­pose I’m very care­ful about who I am work­ing with,” she says. “A man­ager is al­most like an ex­tra band mem­ber and it’s a very im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship in your life. I feel to­tally ca­pa­ble of man­ag­ing my­self but lately, it’s been more man­age­ment than cre­ative and I don’t think that’s nec­es­sar­ily what I want to do. It’s just a mat­ter of find­ing some­one that I can re­late to and con­nect with on all lev­els and trust with the pro­ject.”

Yet Stel­ma­nis feels that the more an­a­lyt­i­cal as­pects of her brain have also had an im­pact on her song­writ­ing.

“While I have a cre­ative side, I think I use the left side of my brain a lot, even in the way I write mu­sic. To me, there is a lin­ear for­mat to writ­ing mu­sic and there’s ob­vi­ously an emo­tional as­pect which plays a huge role. But at the same time, think­ing about the ar­range­ments and how I’m go­ing to do it is a very quan­ti­ta­tive process.”

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