Anchor Shop Presents an Interview with Steph Copeland

By: Luke Williams (@musicwithluke)

Anchor Shop: So first of all congratulations on the brand new album!

Steph Copeland: Thanks so much!

AS: You are a film composer and work primarily within the scifi and horror genres. I’ve always been interested in musical composition as it is associated with the visual medium. So, before this gets anymore long winded, why don’t you tell me how you compose your music for those films?

SC: My approach to a project is to take the locked picture when they give me the film. Sometimes the director will throw in a little temp music because they have had to show it to their producers and they just keep it in there. Sometimes I will get it just raw with no sound at all. What I will do is take three passes on the film from start to finish. First I will watch the whole thing and make some notes and then I’ll do the first pass, which is a “cue pass”. So if someone throws a punch I’ll mark a queue or if someone is lurking I’ll mark one there. Second pass is buttering up those queues and the third pass is what I’ll deliver to the director. After that the director will make notes and then they will make changes or we will sit down together and make changes.

AS: Sounds like a pretty involved process.

SC: [Laughs] It is and it isn’t. In the beginning it was all kinds of daunting but when I got my routine down, it was a lot more enjoyable.

AS: So Public Panic is the name of the new album. It has been described as being rooted in rooted in delicate vocals and electronic production. Let’s talk about where that came from. Did you bring anything from your musical composition over into this album or did you step away from that and try something completely different?

SC: I did have some orchestral roots especially for “Hanna,” one of the tracks where I have a lot of horns, brass and strings coming in and it gets a little big so that sort of makes it so you can imagine Godzilla romping through a city. I do attach a lot of visual and cinematic imagery when I am composing and so when it came to Public Panic I really married pop music with some of those big orchestral ideas.

ASSo one thing that you touched on there that I really want to talk about is how you bring that visual aspect to the music. You recently released a song titled “Nadia,” which is the single for the album. It is a really beautiful piece of synth pop with a lot of darker melodies and really visual lyrics. Is that indicative of what else is to come on this album?

SC: Absolutely! The lyrics are a very important thing to me and the story telling is a really important thing to me as well. The music that I like to listen to always tells a story and that is what I want to do. There are stories in pretty much every song so I would say the album is pretty visual, at least for me it is.

AS: You are originally from a small town in Ontario but have since emerged as an electronic artist in the massive music communities of L.A., Detroit, and Toronto. As a musician from small town Ontario myself, I can attest to the fact that when you arrived in a big city like Toronto, your inspiration and ability to create music becomes so much easier. Tell me what was the journey like for you?

SC: Absolutely! I grew up in Wallaceburg Ontario, population 13,500. From there I moved to Windsor and while I was in Windsor I became apart of the Detroit scene because of how close they are. I worked with a guy named Eric Leiss and we formed a group that toured out to L.A.. Once I moved into Windsor, trekked into Detroit and got to play a few shows I gradually graduated to the giant metropolis that is Toronto, and that was the next step I think. When I came here it was so big but I was actually quite focused on just staying in my studio and composing the music for film. As far as getting out their and onto the scene, I didn’t do that very much and I’ve still sort of yet to do that but I think that is going to be up and coming.

AS: So you’ve been playing it safe and hanging out in your own zone then?

SC: Yeah!

AS: You were the recipient of a Popular Music Recording grant from the Ontario Arts Council a few years back. I believe that grant helped to make the album a reality. Just how important was the grant in terms of making the album?

SC: Yeah what a gift they gave me! It pretty much paid for half the cost of what the album ended up being. So it really was the thing that jumpstarted this whole process and I really couldn’t have done it without their help.