Let me introduce you to the wonderfully melancholy, emotive and submersive music of Renee Stahl. In her latest song, ‘Every Tear is a Prayer” she shares the delicate and profound experience of caring for her father in the last few months of his life. The rippling synths and deep electronic heartbeat set the scene for Stahl’s silky, suspended vocals. Add in some gloriously rich piano chords, haunting harmonies and languid drums to lift the pace and we have a splendid tapestry of complex, yet hopeful emotions. I completely fell victim to the sheer beauty and vulnerability of this track and found myself hitting repeat as soon as it was over.
In this interview, we learn a little about the artist’s quarantine, why now is a great time to be an independent artist and the importance and impact music has had in her life. Note to self: Renee loves a green olive.
‘every tear is a prayer’ is a truly beautiful and raw track. Can you share a little bit about what the song means to you and what the writing process was like?
I brought my dad home to live with us in the final three months of his life. It was intense, lovely and heartbreaking. The anticipation of knowing what was to come was scary for me. I felt myself letting go of my dear father and probably cried as deeply as I would on the day that he actually passed. As the tears flowed, I was reminded of a Native American teaching that the spirit remains in this realm for four days gathering energy from the love, tears and grief of loved ones, until it can let go… And that teaching inspired the song’s title, “Every Tear is a Prayer.”
How have you found creating and releasing music over lockdown?
I tried to make the best of it and I must say I have been extremely creative during quarantine. At the beginning, I started doing live shows on FB and Instagram. I called it “a cup of tea with Renee” as I was trying to offer an alternative to the news. I taught myself many cover songs that I have always wanted to sing.
I am so fascinated by your youtube channel, where you’re creating music somewhat tailored to a younger audience. How did you get into that world?
I was inspired to make music for children and families when I was pregnant with my first daughter. While I was on bed rest, my friend Jeremy would come over, and we wrote our first CD, “ It’s a Big World” – a love ode to our own children; we didn’t know it would take off and become as successful as it has. I think people can feel the love that went into it.
Do you have any thoughts on where the music industry is at today?
There are many opportunities these days as an independent artist with streaming. I find that very exciting as the musician has more independence and say in their own creative vision and career.
Do you remember a time or a moment when you decided you wanted to be a musician? Did you ever consider any other career before music?
I have been singing since I can remember. Around 7, I was walking around the house with a hairbrush pretending it was a microphone. I went to a performing arts camp at 10 years old and that was it – I was hooked. I wanted to be on Broadway as I loved musicals. I had a brief career as an actress.
Your music has such an ethereal and pure quality to it. Has your sound developed over time or have you always had an affinity with this style of emotive, tranquil indie-pop?
I have always felt a sense of longing in my life mixed with a sense of hope. I am not even sure it has a name however, I called my first solo CD “Melancholy Pop” which felt like the right description for most of the music I make. I like truth and authenticity – I hope it comes through.
What’s one of your fondest memories of your Dad?
My dad’s favorite place was Chautauqua NY. A place he’s been going to since he was a little boy. We went back with him in the summer of 2019. He was so excited to show us all of his favorite places. I know it was one of the highlights of his life (mine too). I developed some old movies that his family took when he was a boy. We watched them together while we were in Chautauqua -It was amazing.
Can you share any musicians you think we ought to know about?
Oh yes, I love sharing music and turning people onto other musicians. I am a big fan of the bands Elbow and Midlake. I love listening to Mark Hollis (from Talk Talk) “Spirit of Eden” CD. I am loving RY X right now, especially his Live from Royal Albert Hall Album. I love Imogen Heap with her band Frou Frou.
What’s a song, album or artist you always return to?
A few of the songs are on repeat : Ethan Gruska called “ The Valley”, “Take it with Me” by Tom Waits, “Cathedrals” by Jump Little Children, “Motion Sickness” – Phoebe Bridgers, “Sonnet” by The Verve, “Doesn’t Matter” by Christine and the Queens, “Love is love is love” by Inara George, “Brassy Sun” – S. Carey. And some classic faves: “Turn it on again” and “Follow you Follow Me” by Genesis, “Wishing you were here” by Chicago.
What’s one of your goals or dreams for 2021?
I am excited to be releasing a new CD of cover songs with my duo Renee and Jeremy in April or May.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
One of my dreams is to sing with a live orchestra, i love harmony, green olives and lower case letters, sing everyday – it’s medicine.
Introducing » Artists We Interviewed