Record Overplayed
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Stephanie Dosen | Gateshead Sage | 27/07/07

“I’m very nice but I’m really picky!”
Interview by Dawn / Photo by Sally Saveall (Latitude Festival July 07)

Stephanie Dosen loves England. Just as well, really, as she’s been over here since February playing gigs and showcases. Perhaps surprisingly, she even likes the UK weather – as she explained when we caught up with her for a chat after her support slot to fellow American Nanci Griffith at the Gateshead Sage.

“Yeah, I do, because with living in Nashville, Tennessee it’s like a hundred and whatever – basically it’s so hot you can’t go outside. In England the climate and the animals and the people and the trees are like really kind of cool looking and magical looking and everyone’s... I dunno. I think I’ll stay.”

Speaking of animals, Stephanie seems to have a particular liking for furry woodland creatures. Her website and videos feature everything from owls to foxes, while Record Overplayed’s Southern correspondent informed us of her concern for bunny rabbits when she played at Latitude Festival the previous weekend.

“I think it was the fact that we had basically taken over the habitat of the animals,” explains Stephanie, “so I was thinking like where had they gone, are they upset, are they gonna like the rock music, what’s happened to the owls and what’s happened to the birds and to Bambi and then I was like ‘we should come back here and have a concert for the animals and eat steak and wear fur coats and support the bunnies’ – it was a joke that went wrong...”

Even aside from the animals, it sounds as though Latitude was an interesting experience, as Stephanie continues: “Latitude was great. We had to go across a river. They put us in a boat with all of our equipment and then they just ferried us across the river to a stage and there were hundreds of people just sitting there listening and the sound was great – I was amazed. It was really nice – I’ve never taken a boat to a gig before!”

Stephanie first came to the attention of Record Overplayed when she supported our long time favourite Duke Special on tour, so we ask if she can divulge any rock and roll secrets from the road.

“We didn’t really do anything that crazy,” she says. “We sort of had fruit eating contests – instead of who could drink the most it was like who could eat more bananas. People were chowing down like eight bananas.” We feel obligated to ask Stephanie the name of the victor. “I think [Stephanie’s violinist] Fiona won the banana one. She went quick – she wouldn’t let it go.” We suggest that watching Duke’s percussionist Chip Bailey gobble bananas would be an amusing sight and Stephanie laughs. “The funny thing about Chip – and this is the funniest thing - we all took photos during the tour and everyone has a picture, and Chip is always a blur. He moves so fast. Every picture I have of Chip is just this swathe of curly, brown hair. I don’t think the man can actually be photographed – he moves too fast. He’s really fast, he’s constantly swaying and moving!”

Stephanie’s music is beautifully ethereal and regularly draws comparisons to the Cocteau Twins and The Sundays, while her lyrics are intriguing yet obviously very personal:

“I definitely have to spend a lot of time alone [to write songs] and I have to be going through something that I’m having a hard time going through. I think that’s where everything I’ve done so far has come from. And I always have that going on. I don’t have to scratch very hard to find a tragedy - it’s right around the corner. It’s a good thing though. Well it’s not good, but for my job I guess it is. If nothing’s going on, nothing’s going on, but there’s always past stuff to deal with. Some things I store up – some things I don’t actually deal with at the time, I think ‘I’ll deal with that when I’m writing songs’ and I hold onto it.”

Stephanie also has sketches to accompany her music, as visitors to her website will have noticed. “I drew all those,” she says, referring to the many characters on there. “I’ve got an entire book of illustrations like a story book that goes along with the record and we were going to put it out but maybe not for this record. But we took pieces from it for the website. I was pretty relentless about it - I was kind of a nightmare, I think, for the designer. I’m like ‘move the ‘S’ one half of an inch to the left’. I’m very nice but I’m really picky,” she smiles ruefully. “A challenge!”

Thankfully it sounds as though the directors of the video for new single Only Getting Better found working with Stephanie a little more easy: “Soy Un Caballo, a band from Belgium, directed the video. They wrote the entire storyline and the weird thing is it goes along perfectly with my personal story – basically what the song’s about. It’s very eerie the way it coincided with what was actually going on.

“During the whole video I didn’t move from a one by one foot square – I stood in front of a green screen, I didn’t see the boat; I was in a room in front of a green screen. It’s all animated. I didn’t actually see the birds or the bed until I saw the video. It was really cool to see it for the first time!”

And finally, what are Stephanie’s plans for the future?

“I try not to plan out any further than tomorrow morning,” she smiles. “I try not to make too many plans – the second you start planning a picnic it rains. I wanna keep doing this so I hope people keep buying records and they don’t stop doing that cos that’s what’s happening and it’ll be the end of little indie people like me if I don’t sell records.”

Optimistically, we suggest that there will be plenty of people in tonight’s crowd who will now buy her album.”You stay positive and call me up when I’m feeling low!” she laughs.


With many thanks to Stephanie, to Simon and to Mark. Visit www.StephanieDosen.com for more information.

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