10 Questions: Angie Stevens

Angie Stevens

Voted Denver’s best singer-songwriter by Westword, Angie Stevens and her band The Beautiful Wreck have been taking their show on the road and promoting their latest album, Queen of this Mess.

They’ll be continuing their travels with Jen Korte & the Loss in October and Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers later this year but first they’ll be making a stop at Swallow Hill’s Daniels Hall for a show with David Berkeley and Catherine MacLellan and some special surprise guests.

Recently, Angie took some time to share with us her thoughts on the new record, songwriting and the local music scene.

Q: How is the new record, Queen of this Mess different or similar to your previous albums?

A: This record was definitely a different experience, we went to New York to record it. We got to work with one of my all-time favorite producers (Malcolm Burn) which was a dream come true itself. His approach was a lot different than anybody I had ever recorded with before, every producer has their own approach. His was really stripped down and very raw. No click-tracks were used, no auto-tune, the record itself, the recording process was very different and amazing.

And the music was more mature and well thought out. It took us a lot longer to put together the parts because they were really important to us. It’s a CD about admitting what you’ve done and moving on from it, it was a huge step in the right direction for me.

Q: How did you decide that you wanted to be a musician?

A: Music really found me, I was in college and I started playing a little bit here and there, I started playing at open mics and I could tell that I had a connection to the audience and I think it was just because I had something to say, I was being really honest about what I was going through and college sort of fell through right when music took off for me. It was my way of getting through, it was my way to breathe through the hardships and everything that I had in my past that I needed to put to rest. It really became my saving grace.

Q: What were your goals when you started out and what are you looking forward to in the coming year?

A: I never really knew what the path would look like and I didn’t really have any expectations I think the most important thing is just to always stay focused on the music and let that be your guide to where that leads you.

As far as the next year I’ve been writing a lot and I’m really trying to record again, hopefully in the winter or early spring and I want to be touring a lot and keep getting music out there, performing and keep connecting.

Q: Can you describe your songwriting process?

A: It usually starts with an idea, lyrics are usually first and then I sit down with a guitar and let the melody come to me depending on how I want to present it.

Is it going to be a fast, upbeat song or is it one that I want to be slow and kind of more moaning, letting it just come out? The feelings come out of how I want to connect with the audience’s heart and how it connects to me.

What are some of your favorite songs that you’ve written?

Off the new record I’d say my favorite song is “Ship Song.” In general, my favorite song – I have two that I’ve ever written and that would be “Truth Don’t Lie” and “Old Churchyard.”

Q: Do you still sing the first song you ever wrote?

A: Yes, sometimes, when people make me. The very first song I ever wrote I don’t really count but the first song that kind of started my open mic career was called “Restlessness” and it’s off of I’m Okay. It was thing song about me, declaring that I was going to become a musician and it’s kind of when I truly began to take music seriously and realizing that that was my calling.

Q: If you could sit down with any other artist and talk to them about their music who would it be?

A: That would have to be Ms. Patty Griffin. I want to figure out how she puts together a song, what she draws inspiration from and how she does it. I would love to pick her brain because she stays true to her music and I think that’s so important and it’s a hard thing to do in the music industry and make it as far as she has. I’d love to see her business model and how she accomplished so much and still stayed true to who she is.

Q: What kinds of music do you listen to when you’re not performing?

A: I love to make mix CDs, I listen to so much music and it changes monthly so every month I have a new set of artists I filter through and make mix CDs and the next month I do a lot of searching and scouring. I’m always on the hunt for new music.

Right now I’m really into Jen Korte and the Loss, Jeff Buckley is usually mixed in there somewhere, Patty Griffin of course, Gregory Alan Isakov, one of my favorite writers of all time. Anything that makes my heart sing.

Q: You’ll be out on tour for the next few months, how does touring work for you?

A: The touring that I’m going to be doing will probably be with another band, I’m hoping to tour with Jen Korte for a couple weeks in October. There’s a tour underway for all of November with another band. Then after that it’ll probably be me and my band, going back to those markets and bringing the full band.

I’ve got a tour van, a tour mini-van, sometimes I’ll pull a trailer, I think this time we’re going to have a camper. usually it’s either hotels or friends houses and we just get in the car and go.

Q: What are the things that you always pack in your suitcase?

A: My cowboy boots, usually a couple pairs of jeans, dresses, lots and lots of CDs. With CDs, now that I have the ipod, I still have to bring at least one enormous book of CDs, I have tons of music. My GPS system, for sure, I call her “Hot Pants,” she leads the way. And usually, I have to make sure to pack Susan. I don’t like touring without her.

Q: What do you think of the music scene in Denver?

A: Denver’s got, in my opinion, the greatest music scene in the country. I’m a little biased but if you just look at the artists coming out of here and what we’ve got going on between Gregory Alan Isakov and The Flobots, Born in the Flood and Meese. We’re all family and we work really hard at our craft and it’s a scene that’s been noticed a lot and it keeps happening, band after band. We’re getting better and it’s a scene to watch.

Angie and her band will be at Swallow Hill on October 2.

Check AngieStevens.com for more tour dates and info.

Photo: Traci Goudie

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