Becca Stevens is a New York-based singer/composer/musician (she plays guitar, ukelele and charango) and has been described “a best-kept secret” by the The New York Times. She will make her UK debut on Tuesday 16th October at Pizza Express Dean Street as part of Georgia Mancio’s ReVoice! Festival, with her band: Liam Robinson (accordion, keyboards, vocals), Chris Tordini (upright bass, vocals), Jordan Perlson (drums and percussion).
Stevens is acclaimed for her own work, as well as collaborations with Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra, Taylor Eigsti, Brad Mehldau and many others including Tillery the trio which she formed with Rebecca Martin and Gretchen Parlato.
Rosalie Genay interviewed Becca Stevens for LondonJazz by email:
Rosalie Genay: Your music fuses different styles: jazz- and equally non-jazz fans love it. Frustratingly, a large audience often turns off when something is presented as ‘jazz’, unjustly associating the genre as unapproachable.
Becca Stevens: It’s a natural human response to want to categorize. It can help musicians sell records and get people to their shows. Even though I sometimes struggle to categorize my own music, I try to expect and appreciate the question to do so. I do relate in some way to most all of the boxes that I’m being put in. I’ve spent a lot of my career associating with jazz, …. the classical world, and … other genres like Irish folk music, world music, and indie rock/pop, etc, but for whatever reason, the word “jazz” has seemed to follow me along my musical path.
RG: You come from a musical family – what styles were you surrounded with growing up and enjoy listening to?
BS: Irish folk music, classical music, obscure rock, bluegrass, opera, basically “good music”[........]. My parents are both singers, and my dad is a composer, so my mother’s voice at the piano learning arias and contemporary classical pieces, and my father’s compositions (operas, symphonies, guitar, banjo, string quartets, etc.) surrounded us growing up as well. As a kid I really liked … things I could dance to [........] Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, M.C. Hammer and Annie Lennox. … I [went] through a heavy Tori Amos phase …[and] various musical obsessions that included Bjork, Joni Mitchell Radiohead and Michael Jackson.
RG: Has anyone/anything specific left an impression on you?
BS: Everything! From my own friends and family to people who I’ve listened to over the years, they all leave impressions on me in one way or another.
RG: Who recently caught your ear?
BS: To name a few: Little Dragon, Father John Misty, Frank Ocean, James Blake, Blood Brothers, Beach House, Bear in Heaven, Land of Talk, Ayub Ogada, Wye Oak and Kate Bush.
RG: Finally, musically, where are you going next?
BS: I feel my artistic vision shifting and changing, but also becoming clearer all the time. [........] If I had to categorize, I’d say that the music that I’ve been writing for my band lately is incorporating more rock and pop elements.
RG: We’re so much looking forward to hearing you in London on Tuesday 16th October.