Photo Credit: Jett Street
“I was always scared of the dark as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it too. Anxiety, depression, the blues, melancholy, bittersweetness, low self esteem, rage, pity, lust, gluttony, envy. So many shattered pieces of glass emotions that can be pulled apart and made clinical to examine and explain. Personally, I’m someone who feels deeply on an extreme scale. I just call it “The Dark.” – Stevie Jean
Album ‘The Dark’ is a concept that delves into Stevie Jean’s adolescent ideas and experiences through the lens of fairy tales, mythology, and pop culture. Written over a period of 4 years, Stevie wrote some of the earliest tracks at age 17 all the way up until late 2020 before production and recording took place in “the safest place on earth” during the first wave of the COVID pandemic – an old forest dappled studio in Darwin NT.
Shedding herself of preconceptions with a little healthy chaos and destruction, and effectively grabbing her own life and music by the teeth, the album tracks Stevie’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences on life as she moves through the seminal late teen years of discovering her own voice, power, identity, and how to use it.
Opening track Send Me Home reflects on temporarily quitting sugar, caffeine and anything that might stimulate her mind artificially, and the unique stillness of being on a flight and feeling everything and nothing simultaneously. Track 5 Bored is about women relinquishing the idea that they are responsible for whether or not a man feels hurt by their honesty. “Women have so often bitten their tongues and put themselves second to appease a partner or family member. I believe that unadulterated honesty can be revolutionary and freeing.”
Nervous is the twin sister of Cali, both written around the same period of time about struggles with disassociation of diet, body, and self. First came Cali, confusion and sadness. Next came Nervous, a warning. “I remembered I was strong, I remembered my purpose. I realized that I didn’t have to be peaceful or vengeful, I could be neutral.”
Lead single Menace is an edgy, frenetic, explosive force to be reckoned with. A multi-faceted but undoubtedly huge turning point in the album where Stevie takes the power back, causes a little chaos, and puts two fingers up to everything that tries getting in her way. Graduation is about friends who struggled with dabbling in drugs and partying and graduating to harder substances. “The irony is that some of them didn’t live to actually graduate for one reason or another.”
Title track The Dark is especially poignant as it came at the moment of greatest weakness, the deepest of the dark. Like Graduation it was never supposed to come out. It was an expression of hopelessness. Written on the ukulele, and then reinvented in production, the track is like no other on the record. “When it got dark I meditated next to the water. I’m scared of the dark and of dark or deep water. I sat there without any light until my friend came back. I wanted something to come out of the water and get me. I wanted something to happen.”
The album closes with powerful bluesy ballad Lethal Love, a track written to bring balance to a relationship that was too clingy. Drawing on her Cypriot heritage and history and the practice of reading coffee grounds, Stevie saw lighting bolts in her coffee one morning and knew a relationship was over. “I wrote the bridge as a kind of protection spell. To say I am powerful with this lightning and my culture.” The song is her sending out a vibration into the universe that it’s over, that she is finished interacting with this person.
‘The Dark’ is true to its name. The album is shrouded in the inky shadows of the deepest hours of the night. But like all fears, you can only conquer them by facing them head on and this album is Stevie boldly walking into her own darkness and pulling out all the fears, trauma, mistakes, pain, and anger and bringing it to the light.
After the darkest of night comes the dawn.
Debut album ‘The Dark’ is out now.
Tune in HERE
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With thanks to SGC Media