Q&A: Self Talk’s Stacey Cicivelli Talks Writing Envy, Musical Influences and A Love of Records

Words/ interview by Natalie Blacklock

If Melbourne’s Self Talk aren’t your favourite band making fresh poppish rock, then we probably can’t be friends. The band are bringing a genuine and unique perspective to their audiences, with their music largely focused on ‘real’ feelings and everyday experiences. After finding early underground support on their 2015 single Fist FightSelf Talk really began turning heads at triple j in 2016- 2017 with cuts like Old Habits and Bedside Dictionary. Things fell quiet while various members pursued success in other projects including Melbourne babes Ceres — the band; Stacey Cicivelli (Vocals / Guitar), Amanda Norman (Keys / Backing Vocals), Xavier Rubetzki Noonan (Guitar / Backing Vocals), Alexa Nania (Bass) and Frank Morda (Drums) are back with new music and a wholesome video which is packed with live and studio footage and plenty of doggos.

The Good Call Live team are absolutely stoked that Self Talk are back with brand new music in tow, so I *digitally* caught up with Vocalist Stacey Cicivelli to have a chat about this and a whole lot more.

How did Self Talk form?

We started jamming a couple of songs at the start of 2015. I’d never sung lead vocals in a band before and had finally worked up the courage to try it out. I’d been writing lyrics and songs for ages, but always for other people to sing. We weren’t sure at the time what the project was going to be – I thought maybe we’d just release two songs and be done. But it just kind of snowballed from there. I was having too much fun to stop.

We’re keen to know a little bit more about the band. How would you describe each of you in three words?

This was so hard! I think we’ve discovered that none of us like talking about or describing ourselves… but Xavier is definitely the comedian.

Stacey – Tegan and Sara
Amanda – 80s dancing enthusiast
Xavier – Can’t count to three
Alexa – Little pocket rocket
Frank – Loves a chat

Who are some of your biggest influences as a band – sonically, stylistically and thematically?

We all have really different musical influences, it’s such an eclectic mix of music that we listen to. But I think when we get together and jam we have an idea of what Self Talk sounds like and how to make those different influences work for the sound of the band. I grew up listening to emo and pop punk, but I only really started to think about being a music maker rather than just a listener when I first heard Tegan and Sara, who are probably my favourite songwriters. I’m a sucker for anything with a big, catchy chorus that makes me feel feelings, so I’d count anything that fits that description as an influence.

When I write Self Talk songs, they always sound so big and loud and raw in my head, I never expect them to come out so poppy. But I guess that speaks to how much pop we all listen to! I should be used to it by now. I tend to also be heavily inspired by anything I hear that grabs my attention. There’s nothing more inspiring for me than hearing a new song and thinking, ‘Damn, I wish I wrote that!’

Which tracks would you recommend checking out if someone has never listened to Self Talk before?

That’s a hard question because to me there’s a lot of difference between our songs so I’d want to give them a good range to get a complete idea of us! I’d probably stick to our newer songs because I think the songwriting has evolved since the very beginning. Definitely Food Court and then probably Bedside Dictionary for its energy and emotion, Untitled because it’s a personal fave, Origami for its softer side and Old Habits for its hooks.

What is the writing and recording process like for Self Talk? Is it a collaborative effort or do each of you tend to work solo, bringing your ideas to the table later on?

Usually I’ll bring the bones of a song to practice and we’ll just jam it out from there. I always have a strong vision for the song, but at the same time I’m really open to what the rest of the band can bring to it. One of my favourite things ever is seeing a song go from my idea into this fully fledged piece of music. Sometimes it goes in a completely different direction to what I was expecting, and I really like that. Right now we’re trying to navigate writing during lockdown, andwith Xavier (Guitarist) living in Sydney, it’s a bit different at the moment – we’re still getting the hang of it.

Self Talk really came on my radar in 2017 when you did a limited to 100 Split 7” run with Brissie faves Bugs (for the Domestic La La 7” Record Club). How is working with the team at Domestic La La and James Tidswell?

It’s been amazing! Working with James has been the best experience, from producing the track to everything with Domestic La La, because he cares about the music and that really comes through. He’s got so much time for us. In the studio, it was lovely to work with someone who genuinely loves our music.

Food Court, your latest single, came out super recently! It’s a seriously catchy track. How are you feeling about it? How did it come together?

Thank you! We’re feeling good about it, the response has been really nice! It’s obviously a weird time to release music, and it’s a bit strange to just sit back and watch it happen without playing any shows or booking a tour or anything.

It’s a song that came together in pieces, for me. I wrote the chorus first, then the verse eventually kind of… revealed itself. I wanted it to be a big singalong track with lots of energy, and the rest of the band helped make that happen. We recorded it about a year ago and things just kept getting in the way of releasing it, so it’s a big relief to get it out into the world finally.

For many bands, social media and streaming services are being used to promote their music and their message to a wider audience than ever before. What do you believe keeps a band thriving and committed in this day and age?

I think the main thing, obviously, is that you have to love making the music that you’re making. We’ve had a few obstacles, with band members changing, or moving interstate, but we’ve kept going for a while now and I think that’s why. But it’s also inspiring when there are people on the other end, listening to what you’re making. I’m not great at social media, I can be pretty shy so it doesn’t come as naturally to me, but we’re trying to interact with people a bit more on our socials and be more present. The thought of people you might not know engaging with your music, maybe even on the other side of the world, is pretty cool and humbling. So yeah, that stuff definitely helps too.

The music industry has just experienced one of the biggest ‘shutdowns’ in memory. In the recent climate of isolation-life, what are your Top 5 “go-to” records that you’ve been spinning a lot lately?

It’s actually been a really good time to stop and make a bit more time to listen to music. It sounds weird, but sometimes I forget how much I love doing that. I’ve been smashing the new Phoebe Bridgers record (‘Punisher’), and I’m still loving Waxahatchee’s latest (‘Saint Cloud’). Plus Nat Vazer’s recent one (‘Is This Offensive and Loud?’) is SO good. I know the new record by The 1975 (‘Notes on a Conditional Form’) has been on high rotation for Frank. ‘After Hours’ by The Weeknd has definitely been keeping Alexa sane.

What’s coming up for Self Talk in the future? Are there plans to head out on the road once it’s safe to tour again?

We’d definitely like to play some shows. We have plans for releasing more music in the not too distant future, and it’d be nice to share that with some people in real life.

Self Talk have just dropped their new brand spankin’ new single Food Court and the Good Call Live team are loving it! We’re not sure about you, but we can’t wait to get back out to catch some live music and Self Talk are definitely on our list!

Connect with Self Talk

Facebook // Instagram // Spotify // Bandcamp // YouTube

With thanks to Unified Music Group + Domestic La La

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