By Ron Worthy
We are very pleased to premiere “Atlanta,” the newest single from Nashville-based singer, Stephcynie. The song begins with an eerie yet melodic opening piano chord that gives way to the prime thesis of the composition “you’re leaving me lost alone in this dream.” She is clearly calling out her partner for his lack of involvement and apparent interest in the relationship (“you don’t wanna dance no more; don’t wanna hold my hand no more”) and even mentions his perceived interest in social media as part of the problem between them. At times, she seems to achingly plead with him to be a part of the relationship. So, yes, this is some serious grown folks business, which is actually refreshing.
What separates this track from other typical relationship gone-bad-tales is the approach. After presenting her arguments to her partner, she allows his voice to express his side. Enter CAMM with a remarkable retort delivered with an intense cadence and flow that is unquestionable Southern and dope. He spits “you don’t want me invited. It’s written all over face. Smitten with all of your grace. Now it’s fading away” like a man scorn and feeling like he is losing something that used to feel great. Like other great duets about love, this one reflects a maturity that is sorely missing in music today. It is real and fair.
Supported by a sparse but capable soundbed, “Atlanta” soars from beginning to end. As the third single released this year, it is a real accomplishment for Stephcynie. On this track, her vocals are measured and remain in a narrow range but that does not reflect poorly on her singing ability. Instead, her voice advances the tonal theme of the song by remaining consistent and deliberate which is consistent with the main premise.
Overall, this is a very strong track. My only criticism is that I wanted more. At just under 3 minutes, “Atlanta” presents both sides of the relationship but does not provide any conclusions. I left wondering if the relationship ended or did they work it out? Even with this, I was very happy with the track and look forward to hearing more from this talented singer.
I was really fortunate to be able to chat with Stephcynie recently about a whole host of topics from her background, the Nashville music scene and even her thoughts on social media and technology. She is well on her way to a very positive future. Check out our discussion below:
soulhead: “Atlanta” seems like it details a complex relationship at a crossroads. What I love about this song is that you present both sides of the coin. What was the thought behind this approach?
Stephcynie: Well, the song was initially going to just be the one side of the story, the woman’s side. When I finished the verses I was thinking about what to do for the bridge and I was like, “this doesn’t need me singing on the bridge, this needs BARS!” Ha! So that’s how it came to be. I reached out to CAMM, and he was down. I had no idea what he was going to come up with, but what he added was PERFECT. I thought it would be dope to have the man in the story speak up. You don’t see that often. I love it because he’s just as done with the relationship as I am in the song.
soulhead: In the song, you mention texts, ‘gram and snaps. How do you think these types of social media tech advances have impacted relationships?
Stephcynie: On the one hand, these advancements have been great. For someone like me who travels a lot, being able to communicate with someone you can’t see or talk to on the phone everyday is amazing. It makes being apart easier. On the other hand, I think it has created a lot of challenges for romantics. I think when some of us are having problems in our relationships, we turn to technology as a way to escape. A lot of times it’s not even escaping in the form of cheating, it’s just that mindset of “I’d rather be in my phone than talk to you.” This is a major problem, in my opinion.
soulhead: Can you tell us a little about your process? What typically comes first? Beats or Lyrics?
Stephcynie: It depends on the day and my mood. Sometimes I write the music first. Sometimes I write the lyrics and melody first. Sometimes someone gives me a track and I write to it, and sometimes I write while the track is being built. In this case, I wrote the music and the melody on the piano first, then my friend made a demo track, and then my producer and I created the final product, which you’re premiering today!
soulhead: How would you describe soul music to a deaf person?
Stephcynie: This is a HARD question. I like it! I think I would describe it as something you feel in your body. You feel it in your bones. Soul music is not something you just hear. It’s life experience. It’s the physical manifestation of emotions in the form of notes and melodies. Everyone wants to claim that soul is a part of their music, but it’s not something you can create or manufacture. You either have it or you don’t and, if you have it, you can feel it and so can everyone else.
soulhead: Can you tell me a little bit about the non-country music scene in Nashville? Is there a healthy community of artists and DJs making the scene? Who are some that we should be on the lookout for?
Stephcynie: There is a healthy non-country/non-Americana community in Nashville. There’s an amazing Jazz, Soul, Pop, and Hip-Hop scene. There are so many great artists, I can’t name them all. Hahahahahaha! Here are a few though. On the Soul/R&B side, you should definitely be on the look out for Mike Hicks, Saaneah, Jess Nolan, and Lauren McClinton. In Jazz, Dynamo, Today’s Kids, Dave Williford, and Rahsaan Barber. In Pop, Sinclair, Abigail Flowers, and Whissell, and in Hip-Hop, CAMM, Chandler, and Mike Floss. Also definitely check out Patrick Droney, Davie, and Ms. Wilson. As far as local DJs go, I don’t know a whole lot about the Nashville DJ Scene, but the two I would be on the look out for who are on the come up are DJ Majik and DJ Basketball Jones.
soulhead: What kind of music did you listen to when you grew up?
Stephcynie: I listened to all kinds. I know that’s a generic answer. Ha! But I can tell you when I listened to what. As a child I listened to a lot of Gospel, Soul, Funk and Classical music. Artists like Stevie Wonder, The Gap Band, Earth Wind & Fire, Donald Lawrence, The Clark Sisters, and Kirk Franklin and the Family.
As I got a little older, I was listening to a lot of the SANGERS: Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Celine Dion, Luther Vandross, Brandy, Monica, etc. As a teenager I started really diving into Hip-Hop and Pop, so I used to play Ma$e’s record ALL the time, Tupac, Nas, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Outkast, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Beyoncé, NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys, Mandy Moore, you know, 90s/00s. Ha! Then in my later teens I started listening to a lot of Old Jazz (Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans) and Neo Soul (Jill Scott, India.Arie, Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Vivian Green, Raheem DeVaughn). I would listen to some rock music here and there as well, but not much. Nirvana, Metallica, Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Doors (are some of my favorites). I probably know a song or two from different rock bands, but I definitely can’t sing you anything by heart. Ha! But yeah, I listened to pretty much everything growing up.
soulhead: You have worked with a wide range of artists from Christopher Cross to John Oates? Do you see yourself making music in various genre’s going forward?
Stephcynie: I could see myself doing a song or two in a different genre! Maybe as a duet!
soulhead: Do you think you could do a country song?
Stephcynie: I’ve actually written a country song, no one knows. Well, now everyone knows! Hahaha! I wrote it in hopes that someone else will record it one day, but maybe I’ll record it. It will probably come out sounding like a Gospel song by the time I am done singing it though.
soulhead: What has been your favorite city to perform in and why?
Stephcynie: This is going to sound so outrageous, but Tokyo! The people there were SO appreciative of the music! They were attentive and just really LOVED it. I also love Japan, it’s my favorite country I’ve visited so far.
soulhead: Do you play any instruments?
Stephcynie: I play piano well enough to write but have recently embarked on this journey to become good enough at playing to perform behind one. So, maybe here soon you’ll see a photo or video of me on stage behind a piano.
soulhead: Which artist(s) living or dead would you like to do a duet with? Why?
Stephcynie: I would love to do a duet with Michael Jackson, primarily so we could arrange background vocals together. His SKILLS! I’d also love to perform with John Mayer. He’s such a major influence in how I approach songwriting – that would be a dream. I definitely would love to do a duet with Stevie Wonder because I LOVE HIM, and he’s a musical mastermind. I don’t even know if I’d be able to actually sing with him, I’d probably just cry tears of joy on stage the entire time.
Check out her single, “Atlanta” below:
To learn more about Stephcynie and her upcoming projects, please visit her website and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Ron Worthy is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of soulhead.com. A passionate audiophile who has been a DJ for over 25 years, Ron studied classical music and plays 4 instruments. He loves discussing all things Prince, Hip-Hop, and Funk. When he is able, he shoots a mean game of pool, digs comedy, loves eating fried fish sandwiches, making crab cakes and drinking micro-brews from all over the World. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and cat. Check out some of his work for soulhead.