Stef Chura

Premier Concerts and Manic Presents:

Stef Chura

French Vanilla, Steve Hartlett (Stove, Ovlov)

Wed · July 10, 2019

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$12.00

This event is all ages

Stef Chura
Stef Chura
“For most people who create art I would assume there is some kind of deep unanswerable hole in your soul as to why you’re making it…” So says Stef Chura ahead of the release of Midnight, her gritty, vehement new album, recorded and produced by Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest - and her first new collection of songs for Saddle Creek, out June 7th. Illuminating that search for answers with a fevered sense of exploration, Midnight is a bold leap forward from Messes, Stef’s contagious debut album, with every aspect of her new work finding bold ways to express itself as it rips through twelve restless and relentless new tracks. Today, she also shares the first single, “Method Man, ” a boisterous three-minutes that melds jagged, skewed guitars with a distinctive voice that has a new-found sense of confidence while touching on a vulnerable moment in Stef’s life. She also announces a North American tour in support of the new album. She explains “Method Man” below:

A long time ago I was pondering the literal words “Method Man” while listening to Wu-Tang. There was a person in my life that I had a confusing array of emotions for, sometimes I was in love with him, I admired and looked up to him, I thought of him as superior to me. He was older than me and I was a teenager. At that age I experienced a titanic amount of anxiety that usually expressed itself as silence.

This song was born out of a total frustration regarding a man who seemed “methodical” to me. He was literate. He waxed poetic. Almost someone…how do I say this…that you wanted to be condescending to you? As long as they were talking to you. He drank a lot of energy drinks and had this overall outlook that no one understood him. That he was in on some kind of cosmic secret that I couldn’t get. He smoked so many cigs it stained his fingers yellow.

He was always talking, and I was so enamored with this person. I was always nervous to reply. He would go on and on for hours. He sometimes would look at me and be like “oh maybe you won’t get this…. maybe you don’t get this.” I was too terrified to say much.

A couple of years on from the release of Messes, Stef is still based in Detroit, that most singular city which has seen it all, from the no-mans-land of its initial collapse through to the resurgent place it is now. Stef found inspiration from the people she surrounded with herself with, more so than the place itself. It’s no surprise that Midnight is testament to those kind of characteristics; a rugged and robust burst of defiance. “I’m usually dealing with the context of what I can’t say or haven’t said,” Stef says. “A kind of spiritual bondage that I would say most people, probably a lot of female bodied ones, put themselves through.”

Which is to say that if its predecessor was a raw, somewhat unadorned document of Stef’s work, then Midnight is the muscular, swaggering evolution. “This album has a depth to it and a particular sound because of Will,” Stef states regarding Toledo’s input, whose spiky nuances can be found across the length and breadth of Midnight, the record presenting an exhilarating rush of sound and color as Stef’s spirited vocal finds and signature guitar sounds unravel alongside in a thrilling meeting of ideas and influences; dispelling demons, song by song.

Equal parts thrilling and angsty, Midnight is a testament to the collaborative process, a record that makes the very most of those who came together to make it, but more than that, it’s a firm statement of tenacity and perseverance, of not resting on your laurels but leaping forwards no matter the situation you find yourself in. From out of one day and into the next.
French Vanilla
French Vanilla
FRENCH VANILLA IS A FEMINIST ART-PUNK BAND BASED IN LOS ANGELES CONSISTING OF MEMBERS MAX ALBECK (DRUMS), ALI DAY (GUITAR/BASS), SALLY SPITZ (VOCALS), AND DANIEL TRAUTFIELD (BASS/SAX). THEY REGULATE THE DANCE FLOOR WITH SOCIALLY SENSITIVE LYRICS, VOCAL FRENETICISM, PUNCHY BASSLINES, AND CATCHY SAX. HALF-DRIVEN BY A DESIRE TO CHALLENGE THE ESTABLISHED SOCAL MUSIC SCENE, DOMINATED BY A FEW INFLUENTIAL (MALE) TASTEMAKERS, AND HALF BY A DESIRE TO HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS, FV STARTED IN LA’S QUEER PUNK UNDERGROUND AND IT IS IN THESE SPACES THAT THEY FEEL THE MOST AT HOME. THE BAND'S IDEOLOGY ASSUMES THE GENERATIVE NATURE OF WOMEN’S AND/OR BFF’S COLLABORATION, AND THEY HOPE TO SPREAD THIS MESSAGE UNTIL ALL DUDE-ROCK BANDS CEASE TO EXIST. MORE THAN ANYTHING, FV WANTS YOU TO HAVE FUN AT THEIR SHOWS AND THEY DELIVER PERFORMANCES FILLED WITH INFECTIOUS ENERGY AND ENTHUSIASM.

OUT NOW ON DANGER COLLECTIVE RECORDS, FRENCH VANILLA’S DEBUT ALBUM OF DANCE-DRIVEN POST PUNK SHOWCASES A WIDE RANGE OF MUSICAL INFLUENCES AND SOCIAL CRITIQUES. WRITTEN BY THE BAND IN SINGER SALLY SPITZ’S LOS ANGELES LIVING ROOM, THE SONGS CONTAIN ELEMENTS OF DISCO, JAZZ AND OTHER DANCE GENRES, KEEPING THEM ENERGETIC WHILE CONSIDERING OFTEN HEAVY TOPICS. THE LEAD SINGLE “CARRIE” EXPLORES COMING OF AGE AS A WOMAN THROUGH THE LENS OF THE HORROR CLASSIC. OTHER SONGS DELVE INTO FEAR OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE (“ANTI-AGING GLOBAL WARMING”); THE DAILY MISOGYNY AND DANGERS OF LIFE AS A WOMAN (“MOTHER’S LOVE”, “HEAVY HANDED”); AND STRUGGLES WITH EVERYDAY SOCIAL RELATIONS WHILE PROMOTING FEMALE EMPOWERMENT (“EVOLUTION OF A FRIENDSHIP”, “HONESTY”).
Steve Hartlett (Stove, Ovlov)
For the better part of a decade guitarist/vocalist Steve Hartlett has been consistently churning out impeccable guitar music and amassing an impressive catalog of distortion-drenched cult classics while fronting college rock stalwarts Ovlov, as well as Stove — an endeavour that’s allowed Hartlett to explore a different side of all things catchy and fuzzed-out. Initially a solo project, Stove has bloomed into a full-fledged band with the additions of drummer/vocalist Jordyn Blakely, bassist Alex Molini, and guitarist Mike Hammond. Now on their sophomore LP, the cheekily titled ‘s Favorite Friend, the band has truly come into their own to make an album that defines Stove’s identity and captures the four member’s extraordinary musical chemistry, as well as the joy and relief that can come from creating together in the midst of challenging times.

Stove’s 2015 debut, Is Stupider, was an extension of Ovlov’s DNA, but Hartlett soon discovered that when separated from the sonic parameters and expectations of that band’s work, he felt free to try out different dynamics and sounds--an excitement that would grow along with Stove’s lineup during the writing and recording sessions that became Stove’s 2016 dual EPs, Is A Toad In The Rain and Is The Meat That Fell Out, and eventually yield the songs on ‘s Favorite Friend. After Is Stupider, band’s lineup had become a revolving door of skilled Northeastern indie rock musicians, but as Molini, Blakely, and Hammond entered the fold, the cohesion was so uniquely inspiring that the four soon became the band’s core members.

“Jordyn is my favorite drummer, Alex is the best bass player I’ve ever known, Mike has always been my go-to friend to play music with,” says Hartlett. “Everyone is just so educated on songwriting and we felt totally free to try anything.” That kind of natural compatibility is rare, and also key to Stove’s ability to balance a broad spectrum of sounds on ’s Favorite Friend. Every member’s sensibility was indispensable to the process. Blakely and Hartlett would often bring their initial ideas to Molini’s basement studio, where he’d help structure the songs and record demos that would be the basis of ‘s Favorite Friend--with pieces of those early recordings even making it to the final album, which was recorded with Nick Dooley at his studio, The Barn, in Vermont. “Some of these songs I didn’t even like until everyone else had their way with them,” Hartlett laughs. "It really made me realize the importance of collaboration.”

Lead single “Mosquiter” encapsulates this highly cooperative songwriting: the demo’s electronic beat forms the foundation, which is built upon by Blakely’s understated yet powerful drumming, followed by the intertwining guitars and bass of Hammond, Hartlett, and Molini -- each member adding layer upon layer until the song reaches a fuzzy culmination. “Annoying Guy” and “They Are Dogs” exhibit Stove’s knack for dynamics, effortlessly shifting between plaintive and explosive; tracks like “Liverwurst” and “Favorite Friend" providing plenty of crunch, melody, and detailed flourishes from each member that demand repeat listens. Blakely’s writing and vocal contributions particularly shine throughout ‘s Favorite Friend. Her voice has become a fundamental part of Stove’s sound whether she’s singing harmonies or taking the lead on “Duckling Fantasy”—a song she wrote that’s not only a standout sonically, but also indicative of the emotional core within the album.

The communal process behind ‘s Favorite Friend has an added significance when examining its lyrics. The band wrote most of the album after the passing of multiple people close to them and those absences, as well as the loss of other interpersonal relationships and the passing of time, are strongly felt throughout. Timing also compounded the uncertainty and world-weariness around ‘s Favorite Friend: they recorded the album in the days immediately following the 2016 presidential inauguration, which only added to the feeling of existential foreboding. Yet ‘s Favorite Friend is not a bleak listen; instead the album provided a space for the band members to process, learn from, and accept the difficult but inevitable changes of life, and as a result it reverberates with a palpable sense of refuge. Blakely explains, “It was a dark time and everything felt doomed in the world, and in our own lives as well. Not to mention the sensitive content of the songs themselves and what they meant to us as a band...it was a joyous moment to be recording together but with this black cloud looming. So it was pretty emotionally draining -- almost overwhelming -- to have finished the album and feel so proud of it despite everything.” Each track offers some bit of catharsis: “Mosquiter” looks back at simpler times that can never be recreated; “Duckling Fantasy” unfolds with Blakely considering complicated feelings around grief and regret; “They Are Dogs” is Hartlett’s most pointed tribute to a lost loved one; and “Stiff Bones” makes peace with a romance that wasn’t meant to be. The album appropriately ends with “Animortal,” a sort of closing credits about accepting the parts of yourself and your life that you wish you could be different, and figuring out how to look forward. In the end, ‘s Favorite Friend is a snapshot: of difficult times, of abundant and rewarding creativity, of Stove really becoming the band it is meant to be, and most of all, of four friends finding comfort in music and each other.
Venue Information:
Space Ballroom (Front Room).
295 Treadwell Street
Hamden, CT, 06514