Stephanie Hatzinikolis is an upcoming singer, songwriter originally from the Bay Area, CA and is Song Revelation’s latest feature interview winner. Stephanie has recently released her first full-length feature album and we were delighted when she took to the time to tell us a bit about it and her musical journey. Read on to discover how Stephanie’s interest in music initially developed, her musical inspirations and what she’s hoping to achieve over the next 12 months.
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
Piano-based Indie-folk singer/songwriter with optimistic yet honest view of life, love and power to overcome any struggle.
Q: What is your musical background?
I’ve been playing piano all my life and performing live shows steadily for 3 years now. I’m a mostly self-taught musician (I learned to play by ear) but I’ve taken piano and voice lessons here and there, learning the fundamentals of piano, voice and music theory. All throughout grade school and high school, I was involved with choirs and bands. High school was when I started writing lyrics to the melodies I had in my head. After college, I began heavily pursuing solo live performances and continue to do so today. I frequently collaborate with other musicians in the Pacific Northwest but being a solo act is my forte for now.
Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?
The last 12 months have been amazing! On July 25, 2012 I released my first full-length album, “This Side Up” and it continues to receive positive feedback. In October, I was awarded the “Musician of the Year 2012” title for Spokane by the community and the RAW Natural Born Artists organization (a national indie-underground artists organization). In January 2013, I participated in my first TV commercial production for a local credit union that will air for one year. I perform nearly every weekend and my goal is to keep spreading the music!
Q: Who inspires you musically?
I’ve made a rule for myself and that is to have no ‘walls’ with music, meaning, for example, even though I’m not the biggest Country fan, I’ll still listen to it (you never know what you’ll find musically). To properly answer the question though: Elliott Smith because his soul is forever personified through his heartfelt music, Sufjan Stevens for his creative layers and beautiful melodies, Ella Fitzgerald for her presence and phenomenal vocal abilities, Yanni for his Symphonic/Piano collaborations, The Shins for their bittersweet melodies and witty lyrics, Muse for combining epic, classical and sexy all together, Battles for their bravery to try unfamiliar sounds and rhythms, Radiohead for everything, Chopin for mostly the minor key Nocturnes, Feist for being a true female musician who can sell albums without taking her shirt off, Led Zeppelin for their spirit and not holding back, Beck, Ian Anderson, The Beatles, Loreena McKennit, E.S.Posthumus, Death Cab for Cutie, Fleet Foxes, Silversun Pickups, RJD2 (I could really go on for a long time but these are at the top).
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
Norah Jones because she is a hard-working, talented and respected musician, Imogen Heap for her exploration of sounds and overall originality, Jack White for his honest and soulful music, Thom Yorke for breaking the rules and setting new standards, Ben Gibbard for clever balances between the lyrics and music, The Black Keys for evolving yet staying true to their sound, Florence and the Machine for the ethereal and inspiring Symphonic elements, Leslie Feist for smart arrangements and distinguished voice.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
There are so MANY insanely talented musicians out there deeming this to be a forever evolving answer but at the moment I would have to say (for the well-knowns) Thom Yorke, Damon Albarn, Chris Thile, Josh Krajcik, Air, Explosions in the Sky, Aimee Mann, Meric Long, and trust me I could go on but these are some of my top picks.
Q: What songs are you listening to at the moment?
“Soon or Never” by Punch Brothers, “So Easy” by Royksopp, “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap, “She’s Long Gone” by The Black Keys, “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
Well it’s always a little bit different for each song. The one common thing though is I never ‘plan’ on writing a song. My compositions usually derive from an event or intense feeling. My songs attempt to capture the feeling or “vent” the emotion I’m feeling and usually begin with either a melody derived from something inside or just me working out different melodic themes on the keys. When something sparks I go from there. The music usually comes first in my songwriting process before lyrics. As the tune develops, more characteristics and ‘flavors’ are added. I can usually come up with a rough draft of a song within a couple of days and then refine the melody and lyrics over time. My songs are never done, but at some point I just stop working on them and play them as they are.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
Melody. I’d love to sit here and tell you both but I can’t tell you how many songs I sing along to and have no idea what they’re about (I know that’s terrible coming from a songwriter). If a songwriter can blend the two in such a way where they enhance each other, that’s a great skill.
Q: Where are you based?
I am based in Spokane, WA but I’m from the Bay Area (CA) and that’s where my heart is.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Spokane is not the best city for struggling solo musicians, especially if the goal is to spread the music and create a substantial fan base. I am, however, grateful for the many great people I’ve met here and all the lessons I’ve learned that have shaped my music and who I am as a person. As far as Spokane’s ability to inspire my music and spur my professional growth, well . . . the glass ceiling has smacked me in the head and the time has come to pack my bags to head towards a more music-friendly city!
Q: What are you currently working on?
I’m currently performing every weekend (locally at the moment), promoting my album, This Side Up and trying to reach as many new fans possible every time I perform. I want to branch out and play in West Coast cities like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco and make friends there. Since the album release, I’ve written enough songs to start thinking about another album but honestly, right now; my main focus is building a bigger fan base and spreading the music! Also, I’m currently seeking Management with strong music contacts (if you know anyone! 😉
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Definitely the CD Release on July 25, 2012. It took so many years to find the right representation for my music and make it all come together but it was worth the wait (I like to do things as professionally as possible).
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in over the next 12 months?
I want to continue improving as a musician and become more established in the music industry. My goals include expanding my music to new markets and gaining the support and friendship of fans, to keep writing and composing songs and to share all my songs and compositions with as many people as possible.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
I will be performing at several regional benefits (Mostly Merlot, 2013 Women’s Show) that are fundraisers for regional cancer patients and to promote healthy living awareness in the community as well as the usual weekend shows. About once a month I send out a newsletter letting everyone know where I’m playing and all my shows are posted on my website (http://www.stephaniemusic.com). I always appreciate it when new fans come to my shows and say “hi!”
Q: What do you do to relax?
Yoga, Cooking, Sudoku and listening to music (yes I know that last one is obvious but it’s true).
Q: Where would your favorite holiday (vacation) be and why?
Maui. Hands down. I went in January 2012 with my boyfriend and it was the most beautiful and relaxing place I’ve experienced in a very long time. LOVE the sun:).
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new or aspiring musicians what would it be?
No one is going to (or should be expected to) believe in you more than YOU! Write music you FEEL and believe in, make a plan to execute your goals, work hard and never stop learning (there’s always more to learn, especially with music development).
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
I usually wear a sunflower in my hair because it represents happiness and longevity. There is far too much crap all around us every day so it’s my own little reminder of the positive. Please keep in touch if you like my music, signup for my newsletter and help me keep making music! MUCH LOVE!!!
Editor’s Note: Stephanie Hatzinikolis has a great, powerful voice which is utilized to its fullest by some creative songwriting with a commercial edge.
If you’d like to learn more about or get in touch with Stephanie Hatzinikolis just follow the links below:
- New Year’s Eve (https://soundcloud.com/rockinpiano/new-years-eve)
- Holding Tight (https://soundcloud.com/rockinpiano/holding-tight)
- Minute to Breathe (https://soundcloud.com/rockinpiano/minute-to-breathe)
- In Dreams (https://soundcloud.com/rockinpiano/in-dreams)
- Cycles (https://soundcloud.com/rockinpiano/cycles)
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/zinikomusic
Twitter: @S_Hatzinikolis (http://www.twitter.com/s_hatzinikolis)
Booking and direct contact: email@example.com