7 November 2014

SunStock Interviews Stephanie Cupo of Souvenir Stand

Souvenir Stand are a New York based, 60s influenced pop band. They've only be going since 2013 but already have a number of successful releases and more in the pipeline. I suspect this fast growing band should be one to look out for, and we got an interview with Stephanie Cupo, the driving force behind it!

How would you describe the sound of Souvenir Stand?

Nostalgia-pop? Has that become a thing kids say yet? Can I pen that term? I’m not sure I can simplify it to a label, but I’d steer clear of “retro” since that has a very bad novelty connotation for some reason. I think we just take slight influence from a really wide spectrum of music and production of the 1960s and at the heart of it I’m just an insecure gal writing personal songs. I don’t
try to sound “60s” when I’m just hashing out lyrics and chords, I’m just inherently influenced since I spend all my time listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles and the Zombies and dissecting what genius things they are doing...but then again I also do that with Nirvana and the Ramones etc... I think if you see us play our set you’ll hear a wide variety of styles, we aren’t just girl group pop, I even tried my hand at writing in the style of Danzig, it’s not nearly as bad ass but you know… 

How did the four of you meet?

Well we’re sort of a wacky band, this is very reminiscent of the 60s since we’ve been a rotating cast of Wrecking Crew style characters...meaning there have been far more than 4 people involved in the band. There have been different cycles of people on the recordings (all of which are credited on the releases, thanks guys!) as well as a few rotations of band members that even differ from those on the recordings.

The moral of the story is it’s really tricky to put a band together for ultimately a solo writing project, but this is not the type of music that can be played solo, this is definitely a full band project and I can’t thank anyone who’s been involved enough for making my dreams a reality
(cheeseball time here, I know). Basically it’s all luck, between the power of persistence on craigslist, meeting friends of friends via facebook or just plain being friends with someone - Souvenir Stand has come to be!

As a relatively newly founded band, how have you seen your sound develop so far?

Our sounds has developed a lot in the short time we’ve been around. Just based on recordings alone I’ve really tried to hone in on the sounds I want on the last three songs we’ve recorded. I didn’t really know what I was doing as far as arrangement and production when I did the first 3 song EP. From that experience I learned so much of what I really wanted moving forward. “Wherever You Go” was a really simply recorded song because thats all it required. It was my first analog recording as well and it really shined without getting lost in layers of keyboards and auxiliary instruments. However from there I wanted to show I was more than just able to produce simple girl group anthems and I had the chance to really push myself to my creative limits working on “Fall” and exploring some of the darker production techniques while trying my very best to make a ballad anything but stock. I’m really proud to say I think we ended up with very unusual arrangements for both “Fall” and “Only Talkin’” that were just right. I suppose I’ve just been learning when you need more and when you need less and how to think outside of the box of how all of these things can be accomplished, I really look forward to future recordings to see how things can continue to develop.

What was your inspiration behind the new single, Surprise?

The inspiration for some weird reason is always the progression of time. The first song I ever wrote was “Day I’ve Spent With You” that cycles through the seasons and memories you share with someone special in all those times...and you know, all the pain too. And then I followed that up shortly after with “Wherever You Go”, still attempting to remember those days with a more upbeat summer motif...then I realized I had to break out of this pattern (clearly my psyche was hung up on something!), so naturally from summer you move to “Fall”.

These songs on SURPRISE aren’t about the passage of time (though basically everything is, if you think about it), but I think the sounds of the songs and the tone just make you think of fall. They are sort of eerie, comforting at times but essentially pretty damn cold and lonely. This single was a way to break out of the idea that everything was a summery pop song by sort of transitioning into the next phase, which conveniently happen to be fall. It was definitely a huge compliment to find reviews saying the single had a darker Twin Peaks aesthetic!

Who is the most involved in the songwriting process? How do you go about creating a new track and readying it for performance?

I am indeed the writer of the songs. This whole project started as me alone in a basement or hiding away in a practice room in college with my laptop recording demos with a midi keyboard and a built-in mic. Now when I come up with a new song for the live set I just record a rough demo of the vocal and keyboard part and send it out to everyone and when we meet up to practice we just run through it a ton and everyone contributes and arranges their instrument with little suggestions or ideas from everyone else. It really takes a talented group to be able to do that so again, I can’t thank them enough!

What’s significant about this release in comparison to your previous releases?

I think the significance is the maturity of the quality of the songs and just sort of expanding upon what this thing called Souvenir Stand even is! Also I wanted a chance after a peppy single, to show off a real vulnerable darker side without cycling through the seasons yet again and I’m really amazed with what we were all able to do at Silent Stereo Studios!

So now with a couple of singles and an EP under your belt, should we expect a full length album soon?

Gosh I hope so! That’s the tough part about recording analog, I will never want to go back to digital, but it takes a long LONG time to get everything done. I have a ton of songs ready to record and I’m writing all the time so I really hope to get a full length together in the near future! More realistically I hope to at least have a follow up single very soon!

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