In Conversation: Stephanie Poetri
Indonesian-American singer-songwriter and producer Stephanie Poetri aims to make people feel good with her music. Optimistic lyrics and a sweetly melodic soundscape which blends electronic and acoustics with samplings of EDM makes up Stephanie’s music, which comes with the message that every note can help control how you feel.
Speaking of her latest glimmering pop anthem ‘Straight To You’ - which also happens to be the first new music released by Stephanie since her highly streamed debut EP, ‘Do You Love Me’, this past Valentine’s Day - she says: “It’s a song about how love can come from little accidents. It’s about the domino effect and how small, insignificant things can ultimately lead to finding love. When people listen to this song, I want them to feel hopeful. Everything happens for a reason, even the small incidents that might at first ruin your day.”
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About the music video, filmed at home during quarantine, she adds: “I saw that my brother had a green screen and decided to try to steal it and make a fun short video for a small part of the song. Halfway through making it I realised how much fun I was having and decided to shoot a music video for the whole song instead! Basically I worked on it for four days since the song was coming out a week later! The most challenging part was definitely the editing, since my laptop tends to overheat when I am editing too many things.”
The 19-year-old pop star’s outlook to life and music is deep yet carefree. Talking at length about her musical process, she says “The creative process is definitely my favourite! It's always such a weird feeling when I create something out of basically nothing. Just taking words out of my head and hoping for the best. Also working with other people and creating something together is such a fun process. A part that might be frustrating is looking for a word that I can't seem to remember. Maybe it's the 'bilingual' in me.”
Expanding on the role of bilingualism and her culture, she explains that her culture plays her huge part in music and who she is as a person today. Stephanie adds: “I always carry my culture with me and being born and raised in Indonesia. I like to do this thing where I find phrases in Indonesian and translate it to English and use that as a topic in my song.”
Delving further into process including soundscapes and lyricism, this emerging icon explains: “No matter the genre I hope that it can be a song that will accompany people throughout their day; if you want to feel pumped, then listen to an energetic song, if you want to feel chill, then you can listen to a slow song, use songs with lower BPMs to help people relax and just 'vibe'.”
“In terms of lyrics, I tend to take creative liberties but my songs always depict an emotion that I have or am feeling. I like to take inspiration from movies and stories, and find a way to fit the context into the emotion I am trying to convey. I learned a lot from working on my debut EP, especially in terms of songwriting, so I hope to see myself become a better songwriter and hopefully write for other people!”
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Focusing on this tangent of the future, when asked who she’d most like to collaborate with she says immediately: “Ed Sheeran, Lauv, Anne-Marie, Baekhyun of EXO, and Rosé of Blackpink.”
Her answer indicates that Stephanie was tagged a “rising global pop star” for good reason; her belief in music’s ability to transcend all boundaries of language, culture and geography. Speaking along these lines about the artists who inspire her, she adds: “I find myself being inspired by a lot of songs and artists, some being Lauv and Ed Sheeran both of whom I’ve already mentioned but not only that, I am also inspired by a lot of K-Pop artists, especially Zico and IU, despite me not knowing how to speak Korean. I am also personally inspired by strong female singers, one being Lady Gaga!”
Stephanie is already in regular rotation on iHeart Radio and Radio Disney, as well as being nominated for an iHeartRadio Music Award in the wake of winning Best New Asian Artist-Indonesia at South Korea’s leading annual music awards show MAMA. Moving on, she talks about the most memorable moments of her career and what’s next for her, saying:
“There are too many to mention, but a couple that I tend to talk about is the collaboration with Jackson on ‘I Love You 3000’ and also singing at a Children's Hospital with MAX for Christmas! Next, I've been creating more songs in my room and I hope to release more songs to give my supporters some distractions while they are staying home!”
It's apparent that Stephanie – while possibly facing the same challenges as everyone else in isolation - views staying home as an opportunity to fall in love all over again with music. Armed with her top three isolation listens (‘Wildflower’ - 5SOS, ‘IDK You Yet’ - Alexander 23 and ‘Phases’ – PRETTYMUCH), Stephanie is focused on making the best music she possibly can for her fans.
Recalling the last thing related to music that made her smile, she says: “Listening to 'demos are one of my favourite things to do. There is just something very special about listening to an 'unfinished' song that is still so rough and that no one else has heard before! I also like to look for demo versions of songs on the internet just to see how it sounds before it was sung by the singer or before it was completed.”
Imagining Stephanie’s smile while listening to demos, and knowing the kind of feel-good music that’s sure to come out of it – you can’t help the smile of excitement and hope that blooms on your face either.
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Words: Malvika Padin
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