Edward Burnett chats to 0Stella in the first Spotlight of 2020 about her career, New Years' resolutions and what music she'd take to a desert island.
RnRR: Hello! First of all, would you like to introduce yourself, where you’re from and what style and genres you perform?
0STELLA: I'm 0Stella. You spell it zero Stella, because I'm a huge advocate of zero waste but you can call me "Oh Stella" to my face. I'm originally born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but I now am proud to call myself a Canadian citizen and reside in Edmonton, Alberta. I play alt-rock Irish fusion. Just think Yeah Yeah Yeahs, PJ Harvey and a fiddle and you're on your way to what I sound like!
RnRR: Greet to meet you Stella, so what was the reason for you first getting into music? What were your musical inspirations growing up in Ireland?
0STELLA: I'd been singing as long as I could talk. loved Thin Lizzy, Bell X1 and The Frames growing up in Ireland, not to mention The Cranberries. When I saw footage of Freddy Mercury at Live Aid as a young girl, it utterly moved me. I decided I wanted to connect with people like that. Then I discovered Garbage and their lead singer, Shirley Manson and I was completely hooked on the idea of being a musician.
RnRR: Some great inspirations there and of course, that Freddie Mercury performance has gone down in history as legend. So following this, how did you get into music and playing it live. What were your first steps from watching these idols to picking up the equipment and doing it all yourself?
0STELLA: Well I first got into performing formally at 16 when some friends volunteered me to front a band, two of my friends played guitar and were songwriting and needed someone to sing them. I'd just started writing lyrics so it was perfect! Our first performance was a school concert. We preformed 'Sarah' by Thin Lizzy and I was petrified but by the time I stepped off the stage, I knew what I was going to do with my life! I tried learning piano, guitar and bass throughout the years but never really got down to it until I put myself in jazz school and had to learn. Fast. And finding yourself without a band, albeit of your own making, is fierce motivation to learn an instrument. I learned guitar and preformed for the first time in a songwriter competition one month later!
RnRR: Well there’s a great backstory if ever I’ve heard one. So taking the conversation from the past to the present, what songs that you have out now would you recommend to new listeners? Songs that will give them a sense of what 0Stella is all about?
0STELLA: Definitely Wide Awake. It's a dancefloor thumper that talks about bigger issues of caring for our planet. I love to get people moving, but I don't always end up writing songs about hook-ups. This is a perfect example of that. Very much influenced by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Beaches and St. Vincent... Probably some of The National and Patti Smith in there too!
RnRR: I was just about to say that your music is very similar to Patti Smith, especially her “Dancing Barefoot” which was similar sounds throughout. “Wide Awake” is a great song but might I also suggest “Fire” as one of your best. The song possesses an attitude and has a real kick to it, similar to the work of Yonaka, would you agree? What was the thought process behind such a powerful song?
0STELLA: 'Dancing Barefoot'! That's a complement indeed, thank you. I love that song. Yeah man, Yonaka is serious. I love that girl's voice. 'Fire' is about acknowledging your weaknesses - in this case, addiction or where passion crosses a line into obsession, and dragging it kicking and screaming into the light and absolutely torching it.
RnRR: It’s interesting that even though this song can be interpreted as being about the typical topic of love/relationships, you still manage to bring some originality to the subject, showing a darker side to it all. Very impressive. Now let’s move on to performing, what’s the best gig you’ve ever played and what made it so memorable?
0STELLA: Well the one I just played this Christmas in Dublin was exceptional because it was the first time playing traditional songs and classic Irish Christmas tunes for Dubliners while they jumped around and same every word going. Great craic. Close behind that would be The Twisted Wheel in Peterborough, Ontario in November. I didn't even make it through the first song of my set before people were singing along and making up harmonies and all sorts. I think Peterborough crowds are undercelebrated!
RnRR: Of course, your home country has to top the list but interesting that Canada comes a close second. Would you ever want to play in the United States since you’re now leaving nearby in Canada? Also, talking of gigs, what do you have lined up for the new year? What can we expect from 0Stella in 2020?
0STELLA: I wish I could say I'd played the U.S! So far I've only played U.K, Ireland and Canada with this project. There is a show in Calgary, Alberta on 11th Jan called Celtic Jam for The Cure, then two more shows in Edmonton 15th and 23rd Jan. Then possibly another show in Dublin in March followed by a spring tour of Western Canada, then Eastern and Toronto area, hopefully finishing off the year with a little time in Germany.
RnRR: Sounds like a lot of great ideas for what is hopefully a great year for you. So this time next year, where would you like to be with your career?
0STELLA: I'd like to be finished a string of festival dates throughout the summer in Europe and Canada and finished pre-production on my debut 0Stella record. I just did out my goal list for 2020 but there's far too many to mention on it other than that!
RnRR: Ah so would it be an easier question in asking you what are your New Year’s Resolutions since it’s the first interview of 2020?
0STELLA: Ha! Perhaps! My New Year's Resolutions are to focus on friendships and relationships in general. I got pretty myopic this year getting 0Stella off the ground so I need to balance like out a tad. Famous last words though!
RnRR: Continuing with the whole new year theme, what would you say is your favourite musical memory from this decade as it now comes to a close?
0STELLA: Favorite musical memory was probably jumping with 20,000 or so people to Jump Around for House Of Pain at T In The Park in Scotland in 2011. Blondie played that year too. Sublime. Also Elton John was fairly inspiring last October. I hope I'm as strong and as humble as he is at his age. To get to perform live for 50 years. That is a dream to me!
RnRR: Also good to keep a check on things and relax sometimes. That’s humbling to hear. Not to mention it’s a shame T In The Park is no more, have you ever been to it’s successor, TRNSMT?
0STELLA: No, I never had the chance to go to TRNSMT. I don't frequent Festivals in the same way I used to when I was living in Ireland. I've been to Glastonbury three times. I miss that vibe. Hopefully that'll change and I'll just be playing the festivals from now on!
RnRR: Of course, surely that’s any artists dream, to headline or even play at a big festival such as Glastonbury? So finally, if you were on a desert island and you could only take one album and one single with you to listen to, what would you pick?
0STELLA: I reckon I'd take Grace by Jeff Buckley with me, but I'd mash the Live At Sin É Edition with the Legacy Edition albums together into one epic bundle. Then I'd take Paranoid by Garbage with me as a single just so I could bounce around while I collect coconuts for dinner!
RnRR: Great choices! Well it’s been a pleasure chatting and getting an insight into 0Stella and your thoughts! All the best for the future and we will be sure to update the page with any news from your camp.
You find out more about Stella via her website at: www.0stella.com