I don't know what you were doing as a teenager, but it probably wasn't as cool as Stefana Fratilas after school activities. At just 15, Stefana Fratila (left: performing at Sled Island 2014) began creating music surpassing that of even the most seasoned of musicians and has kept herself busy since then. Vocals smoother than silk but often overshadowed by spellbinding rhythms, her mixes make for an exciting listen. Prior to her show last week, I was given the opportunity to sit down with her and discuss her new album.
Interview and Photo y Darian Magee
From Julys Vandala Magazine – READ MORE REVIEWS HERE
What about Sled Island stands out to you?
Stefana: I guess for me it’s just the opportunity to visit Calgary. I’ve only ever been here for Sled and it’s very pleasant to be here, everyone’s really lovely and nice. The festival is well organized and they’re doing wonderful things for Canada in general, bringing everyone together, and they do a great job of curating the whole thing. They get a lot of deserving artists into the spotlight and it’s fantastic.
What about performing in a festival is different than going solo, how do they compare?
Stefana: Honestly? The amount of emails I get. You get a lot more emails when you’re at a festival. They’re not too bad about it here, but there are more people involved and it’s a bit more difficult to organize. I’m used to just emailing one person back and forth and I’ll just show up eventually, but there’s a lot more involved with this. I really like how Sled Island is in touch with real venues and we’re not just all outdoors with giant crowds.
When did you start incorporating feminism into your music and what inspired you to do that?
Stefana: I think implicitly from the very beginning, but I wasn’t aware of it because I was around 15 years old. When I was in high school I started identifying as a feminist. My high school boyfriend older brother gave him a copy of ‘Feminism is for everybody’ and we read it together. That was kind of the beginning of it, when I was 17. The older I got, the more I started to read. But what really set me off was being in Paris for a year, that’s when I really got triggered to get into that sort of thing. I was constantly being objectified, I got very angry, and after being forced to confront that every day I started using it as a theme in my music.
You’re from Romania, when did you move to Canada?
Stefana: I moved to Canada when I was a young girl with my family. I’ve been back almost every summer, spending the rest of my year in Vancouver.
What’s the music scene like there, how does it compare?
Stefana: I went on tour 2 years ago and I went to quite a few different places, ones I’ve never been to, and there’s a really vibrant contemporary art scene in the bigger cities. All of them really have that vibe, the music is mostly electronic. I didn’t know about it till 2 years ago, I was mostly just visiting my grandparents before. But there’s actually a lot of crazy artists there.
Germany next! I’m excited for you
Stefana: Yeah! Berlin is great, I haven’t been there for a few years. My first tour was when I was 17 and I booked that just as I was finishing high school. I hung out with my best friend for a few weeks, playing together, it was a great time.
I only went there for 2 days, all I remember is eating everything
Stefana: It’s really cheap compared to a lot of Western Europe, you can buy crates of beer for around 6 Euros.
What equipment do you use?
Stefana: I’ve got a bunch of stuff, tonight and for the rest of the summer I’ve kind of scaled it down, just because I’ve got to carry most of it myself. It’s a nice challenge for me, I’m very comfortable with my gear and just thought to myself “take it all away! See what happens”. I’ve got a synth and my laptop, which operates 5 pieces of software simultaneously. It makes it a little messy. Usually I’ve got a bunch of pedals, electric guitar, and a ukulele, but I had to leave it at home.
You’ve got a first official album release coming up, right?
Stefana: I do!
Most readers, including myself, have no idea what kind of work goes into that, so I’m curious. What kind of experience is that like?
Stefana: This one is totally insane! The model is very anti music industry. It was basically recorded and mixed in a really nice studio within the last year, but the project was completely stalled and it was just sitting on a desktop for four years. Now it’s been mastered and we essentially finished it this month. It’s nice to have it out
Has your music changed since then?
Stefana: Oh God, yes. It’s a totally different album from anything I’d ever record today. Full band, very nice studio recording, I almost do the opposite now. There are some similar elements, like the way I was writing songs back then. Most of what I do is very A to B to C to D, no repeats, refrains and choruses. But yes, way more folk pop. I’m more electronic now.
Is it just you doing that, the mixing and recording?
Stefana: Everything is me, it’s been me for a long time now, that’s the last project I’ve worked with other people.
This July, Stefana Fratila will be proving that she is once again cooler than everyone I know by touring through Western Europe and if you’re lucky enough to be in her tornado of mega-wicked-awesome, make sure to check out performance dates on her tumblr. www.stefanafratila.bandcamp.com and www.stefanafratila.tumblr.com