STANLÆY is Bristol based singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Bethany Stenning. Her new EP Rif follows the debut album The Human Project, which was released in May 2019, and a live album, The Human Project Live, which includes additional string quartet and harp arrangements, released in September 2019 via Bristol in Stereo.
Idiosyncratic, elusive and unique, Bethany weaves unusual folk/orchestral leaning violin melodies with a tapestry of beats and electronic wisps, inspired by Warp acts such as Aphex Twin, Björk and Arca. As Bethany explains, “I am interested in the marrying of something synthetic and meticulously crafted, with something very raw and close to my heart”.
Today we get a little window into STANLÆY’s world.
Hi, how are you today?
I seem to have an abundance of energy today which has been really fun, lots of running around places and dancing in the streets.
What was the first song you ever wrote? What was it like?
The first song I ever wrote was called Safe and Sound when I was about 16 I think and it began with samples of church bells before exploring a few different characters’ and how they experienced time differently. It was very scrappy, lots of harmonies coming in and out of time with each-other, and written on piano which was my first instrument. I also remember I put it together in a very long-winded and inefficient way by recording it all through my iPod in different layers…this was before I knew that programs like Logic existed!
What was the first thing you released?
The first thing I ever released was a little 5-track EP called Caroussel which I wrote and recorded when I was living in Paris. I met a lovely man (and now dear friend) Marco Pavesi who I ended up collaborating with and consequently recording the EP with. I guess these are some of the first songs I properly wrote and started playing live. You can find it in the deep dark parts of my Bandcamp… but I didn’t release it anywhere bigger.
What’s the music scene like back home?
The music scene in Bristol is awesome… lots going on, very diverse and everyone celebrates each other’s differences. It is a very supportive network of musicians, music lovers and artists to collaborate with.
How would you describe your music in five words?
Which artists do you admire?
It changes so often but most recently I have been bringing on Floating Points, Kneebody and Tigran Hamasyan. I also always adore body artist Is he hungry who is touring with Björk at the moment, I love the whole alternate universe she creates. And lastly, I feel like I am quite influenced by film-makers in my art too – the most influential on me being Charlie Kaufman.
What would be your dream collaboration?
Myself collaborating with Colin Stetson (beautiful, raw energy) to make the musical soundtrack for a feature length film written by Charlie Kaufman, directed by Spike Jonze, that distorted drag queen Is he hungry has done all of the make-up and fashion design for.
Can you tell us about your new release?
I recently put out an EP titled Rif. I wrote and recorded it on my lonesome whilst living in a small town in the north of Iceland last Christmas. The EP features guitars, my violin, synths and my voice. I then added harp and bass (ft. Harry Stoneham) on a couple of the songs back in Bristol before releasing it. And as for what the songs are about…it is heavily inspired by nature but also being alone for an extended period of time… taking oneself away from the things and people that they think make them who they are to see what remains when they are stripped of any pressures, or pre-conceived cultural or social habits. Something along those lines.
We are going to be doing re-works of the songs from the EP this December at The Jam Jar, 19th December which I am very excited about! We are going to be playing them as a five-piece band so the songs have naturally evolved a lot since I wrote them late last year/earlier this year.
What’s the best act you have played with so far?
As STANLÆY (just myself) it has to be collaborating with Waldo’s Gift at The Gallimaufry in July of this year. I joined them to re-work the back catalogue of Björk and it was just incredible to play with them, very busy, very chaotic, very big energy in the room. They are very inspiring musicians to know and work with. However, as the current band line-up of STANLÆY (Myself, Ben Holyoake, Oliver Cocup, Naomi Hill) it is probably Port Erin – a band all of us really respect and admire who are local to Bristol as well.
Are you playing any shows/festivals this winter?
Not this winter! The only gig we have this Winter is my ‘Rif’ EP launch which will be taking place on the 19th December, at the Jam Jar. Come along for the wintery sounds if you’re free!
What are your future plans?
I am writing a new album for the band currently, whilst also letting that develop at its own rate, not forcing it out. I also have a side album I have been working on with Joe Milkinson, a great jazz drummer in Bristol, that’s gestating/mutating as we speak. I am really enjoying collaborating with other musicians at the moment (most recently singing with Jazz-prog band Prudent Primate and Waldo’s Gift back in Summer) & I have a few exciting collaborations in light of this coming up in the next year too!
Thanks for your time
@StanlaeySound on Twitter.