The acclaimed Grand Rapids singer-songwriter returns to the stage Saturday while preparing a two-pronged studio release. The story and this week’s Local Spins on WYCE radio podcast.
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Brie Stoner has experienced the ups and downs of the music business, the dichotomy of living in different countries, speaking different languages, striving to meet different expectations for her art.
“My life has been a series of paradoxes,” the singer-songwriter readily admits after finally arriving at a comfortable, congruous place for her music.
“When you’re young, when you’re a teenager or even in your early 20s, it feels like you’re being handed a lot of shoes to try on and being told what to do and pushed out onto the stage. ‘You should sound like this and not like that.’ ”
And while Stoner feels she grew as an artist during those early years more than a decade ago, “I didn’t really know who I was yet.”
Motherhood, the isolation of the COVID pandemic and acceptance of her uniquely varied background have allowed her to “kick all of those shoes off that I was being handed and just feel what it felt like to walk on my own bare feet in the direction that I wanted to.”
It allowed her to “harmonize,” creating music that represented “all these disparate pieces” of her character.
“This was a real homecoming experience for me,” she concedes. “I am more than just one thing.”
After releasing three singles in recent months, the Grand Rapids singer and musician also has formed a new “indie dream-rock” band with plans for releasing a two-pronged album project, “Me Veo,” over the next year.
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Stoner showcased two of those singles – “Hungry” and “Honey” – while sharing the story of her journey. Watch the video for “Hungry” here and scroll down to listen to the full interview and radio show.
VIDEO: Brie Stoner, “Hungry”
(Directed by Jaimie Skriba, cinematography by Josh Skinner, edited by Matthew Bouwense)
Growing up in Madrid, Spain, Stoner quickly became fluent in Spanish as well as English, and has since picked up some French as well.
Her music and her singing have attracted industry attention over the years – featured in a Victoria’s Secret ad campaign, “Orange is the New Black” and “The Affair,” as well as in other international TV and film projects.
And while she hasn’t performed or released albums in several years, she insists she’s remained active – singing to her children, writing new material and otherwise staying engaged with her art.
PODCASTING, FORMING A NEW BAND, RELEASING AN AMBITIOUS ALBUM PROJECT
“I never stopped writing or making music, but when I had kids, there was something singularly satisfying for a season to have their ears be the only ones who heard me sing,” she recalls.
“But even with little ones, I was singing and recording music for TV and film with my side project duet partner, Daniel Johnson in Detroit.”
She’s also a writer and a successful podcaster: She co-hosted “Another Name for Every Thing,” which garnered millions of downloads, and has since started her own podcast, “Unknowing,” which explores the spiritual path of creative possibilities with various authors, activists and artists.
Now, her focus has turned squarely toward performing and releasing her music. At 7 p.m. Saturday, she’ll lead a full band in concert as part of the Listening Lawn series hosted by Listening Room on the Studio Park piazza in downtown Grand Rapids. Tickets are $15 and $25, and available online here.
Her band features guitarist-singer Vanessa DeCouto, drummer Scott Gentry, bassist Luke Shoemaker, electric guitarist Ben Erhart and keyboardist Enrique Olmos – and fans can expect a “very visual,” fashion-forward affair.
She’ll also perform as part of the WYCE Jammie Awards at The Intersection on June 25, and join Valentiger for a Listening Room show on Aug. 25.
Singing in English, Spanish and French, Stoner’s “Me Veo” project will be released in two parts digitally – the first part in the fall and the second next winter. The entire album and a bonus track will be available on vinyl in spring 2023.
“I recorded the album at my home and at Local Legend Recording studios, and it is produced by my dear friend David Vandervelde, whom I’ve worked with and known since we were both high schoolers,” she says, citing influences ranging from Neil Young to Mazzy Star to Fleetwood Mac.
“The songs are full of longing and fury and feeling. I drop deep theology while singing about sex in one line, and then arch into protest against industry and capitalism in another. Everything belongs on this record maybe because I finally belong fiercely to myself. And I guess this album to me is a triumphant culmination of my own sovereignty in that way.”
This week’s episode of Local Spins on WYCE – which spotlights Michigan-made music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also featured music by Djangophonique, Strange Heart, In the Valley Below and David VanderVelde (the musician’s picks by Stoner), Biomassive, Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions, KJ & The Good Time Family Band and Sorry, Not Sorry. Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (6/10/22)
Note: The Bridge Blast mentioned in the show actually runs from 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Details here.
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