Interview: Navigating the Cosmic Giggle, Stefan West on Music, Self-Help, and Finding Acceptance

by the partae

“Slow Down World” explores the theme of when self-help goes too far. Can you share more about the inspiration behind this concept and how it influenced the songwriting process?

This latest single Slow Down World is really just me feeling like I am trying every self help trick in the book and getting nowhere, you know everyone has the magic “Cure” and everyone seems to know whats best for everyone else, I got to this point where I just felt like everything was so dramatic and I would try absolutely everything and that seemed ridiculous to me. All I really wanted was everything to slow down a little, and the truth I know now is for me to find a little more acceptance of who I was at that point. I love this song because this subject seems so serious and everyone takes their own “healing” so seriously, but the truth is, life supposed to be both, it should be serious, but it should be light and fun and funny too, we will be ok. Always. And I think it was could maybe have a little of that cosmic giggle in the challenge, maybe we could find that acceptance and understand regardless of all the things we could be doing, we’re trying our best and thats plenty.

Your upcoming album, ‘Cambridge,’ is described as a transformative journey. How does ‘Slow Down World’ fit into the overarching narrative of the album, and what can listeners expect from this third release?

I honestly think its just another side to me that I haven’t had a chance to show until now, and I think the album is really just me baring as much of myself as I can, and telling as much truth as I possibly can. This song is just another step in that direction giving whoever would like to listen a glimpse into my world

Could you delve into the significance of the title ‘Cambridge’ for your album? Does it hold personal meaning or reflect a particular theme or place in your journey?

Yes! So the home studio where 85% of this album was written, was on the corner of Orrong Road and Cambridge Street in Caulfield north. I parked on Cambridge and entered our house from Cambridge, It was a street sign I saw every single day through this writing process. It felt funny because I also love the UK ever since I lived there 10 years ago, Ive always wanted to go back. I remember the first time I walked through Cambridge and I felt like it was this beautiful wonderland I never wanted to leave.

‘Slow Down World’ features collaborations with various musicians, including Aaron Schembri and your own father. How did these collaborations enhance the storytelling and musicality of the song?

The song would not be the song it is without schembri or my dad on it. The work schembri put into all of these songs is what has made the album what it is. I am forever grateful to have been able to collaborate with one of my best friends on this the way we have. Funnily enough my girlfriend at the time didn’t like this song until schembri played on it, and then she was like “oh I actually really like this one now” hahahaha. He brought to the table something that I couldn’t, the beauty of collaboration. And to have my dad on these songs is still something I cant believe we’ve been able to do together, it still blows my mind to just be able to say we have put music out together. 

Mental health and resilience are central themes in your music. How do you balance conveying personal struggles authentically while also creating a relatable and uplifting experience for listeners?

This is a really good question! I think im always searching for the light, at one point I wanted to call the album sunflower, because the only thing I know to be true about myself in a dark situation is even if its pitch black, I will still try and find that little glimmer of a spark. And I think that comes across in the songs, the truth is, sometimes something challenging happens, and it might be a year or two or ten before you see the light that it created and sometimes something challenging happens and you can see the light immediately, so a song about challenge without a resolution is just as truthful and just as important. generally speaking, the light lives within my songs because that is more often than not my truth. However there is one song on the album without a resolution, and that was my truth for a very long time, I have found the light now, but like I said, sometimes it takes a really long time.

The songwriting process for ‘Slow Down World’ involved a realization of personal hardships. How do you navigate turning your challenges into poignant lyrics and melodies that resonate with others?

I created a new world for the song in my mind, this world has a certain colour to it, a certain brightness and a theme of animation of my choosing, then I allow the lyrics and the melodies to influence that world and something that was first a little challenging to see slowly begins to write its self from the feedback of both of those things interacting with one another ( the lyric and melody/the new world) sometimes I am scared to sing the words, I have been writing a new song recently and it was about a situation I was going through with someone who is newly close to me, I normally wouldn’t share the art until its done but I did in this instance because it felt truthful to, I was fucking shakingggggg hahaha, it was the first time Ive been that nervous in a long time, I am including that story in this answer because im still learning how to navigate turning my experiences, thoughts and emotions into songs that I am brave enough to sing, I think that will probably always be the case. 

Your music blends indie, pop, punk, and folk rock elements. How do these diverse influences contribute to shaping your unique sound, particularly in ‘Slow Down World’?

For me this one started as a pop punk number, in the way I was playing the down stroke palm muted guitar parts and then opening up in the choruses, it really started to change when schembri brought that album jazz rhythm to the table and we added the horns and harmonies in.

As an advocate for mental health awareness and addiction recovery, how do you hope your music, particularly ‘Slow Down World,’ will impact listeners who may be facing similar struggles?

I hope it can offer a little humour and a new perspective, the funny part is how far we will go to feel better, it does feel comical, I have tried and continue to practise everything in the book, I still meditate daily, I practise / teach yoga, I take ice baths, I sauna, I gym like I do all these things, but if I dont im ok, and im learning to accept myself as I am, and I love who that guy is, I hope it can help listeners see that we are all in the same boat, its a fucking weird time to be alive, its better than ever and everyone seems sicker and sadder than ever. Can we laugh at our own predicament just a little and see how ridiculous it truly is? Can we find a little more compassion and slow our own world down by blocking out the noise? I think we can do it. 

Could you share a bit about the role of music in your own journey of recovery and self-discovery, especially in the context of creating ‘Slow Down World’ and the ‘Cambridge’ album?

Reflecting on the writing of this album, I was more afraid than ever to write and record the songs on this album at the time that I did. I think that process was incredibly empowering and incredibly healing for me, especially with the collaboration with my dad and with Schembri, art heals if you’re brave enough to let it, there was a long time there when I wasn’t, and I am damn grateful that I built myself up to be able to. 

‘Slow Down World’ promises listeners a sensory-stimulating adventure through indie rock, punk rock, and folk. How do you approach crafting a musical experience that engages the senses and evokes emotions?

Honestly, I just trying and write lyrics that I really like, that challenge myself and are the truth of that situation, and then I collaborate with amazing musicians that do the exact same thing in their own way, we work on the songs and find a spot where it makes me want to smile uncontrollably, that seems to be where the sweet spot is. 

The production process for ‘Slow Down World’ involved working with Chris Gatz and Joe Carra. How did their contributions help shape the final rendition of the song and align with your artistic vision?

Chris Gatz is a goddamn legend is every single way, the work he has done on these songs is next to none, his input and techniques throughout the recording constantly blew my mind and his mixing ability did exactly the same. Then Joe came along and added this shine and glimmer to everything, we called it the sparkle hahaha. The songs simply wouldn’t be what they are without these men.

Looking ahead, what do you envision as the next chapter in your musical journey after the release of ‘Slow Down World’ and the ‘Cambridge’ album?

Well, im currently gearing up to release a bunch of singles in the second half of the year before the full album drops, so its really just narrowing in on my business processes and trying to streamline that a little better. I am also currently writing the next album so im so excited for that road to continue. Along with that I am gigging a huge amount so just learning how to sing and play better and to allow those skills to meet the writing and recording process, there is so much to look forward to. I cant wait!



You may also like

Leave a Comment