Stesha Cano: Voice of “Blue-Eyed Soul”
Jessica Gilbert: Stesha, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to do an interview for TSM.
Stesha Cano: Thank you, I’m thrilled to be doing this!
Jessica Gilbert: Firstly, I know you’re called the voice of “Blue-eyed Soul.” What’s the story behind this title?
Stesha Cano: One of the first questions I get about my music is what genre it falls into. I’m quite non-committal, so it’s difficult to choose just one; however, soul music is the most innate to me, so it tends to be the underlying feel in my sound. But my writing does has bits of blues, jazz, funk, angry-girl acoustic, and anything else I’m feeling in the moment as well.
Jessica Gilbert: What inspired you to get into music? And was music something you always wanted to do from an early age?
Stesha Cano: Well, I wanted to get into a non-lucrative field that involved a lot of heavy lifting and arguing with bar owners. “Musician” was all that turned up in the search…I think that being an artist is both a great blessing and a curse, it’s a lifetime journey of expression and documenting what is within you. It is an incredible feeling when you can see that your music is connecting with and impacting another person. Although, I never made the conscious choice to be a musician nothing feels as natural to me as performing and writing, when I am doing those things I am certain that this is my path. I just fell into it and have been falling ever since. It can also be incredibly difficult at times; it makes you grow a thick skin because in order to really have a voice, you need to have this rawness about you, or vulnerability, but you can’t allow criticism
to affect you. When there is art in your soul, it will find a way out, it is an unstoppable phenomenon.
Jessica Gilbert: Tell us a little bit about your music background.
Stesha Cano: Well, they say that ignorance is bliss. I have never had formal training or lessons. I really had no idea what I was doing from the jump; I just really liked to sing. When I began performing, I didn’t even have my own microphone. I decided to write and record an album because I had something to say and it didn’t look all that hard to me. It’s funny now to think about, I was so green and so wrong! But I think that was the biggest blessing in disguise, I wasn’t afraid of anything because I didn’t know any better. I try not to indulge myself in fear at all. I try not to put limits on myself and I don’t allow an experience to stifle me. I try to learn as I go and I love to be in over my head.
Jessica Gilbert: What’s your process for writing lyrics? And where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Stesha Cano: I write from real experiences in my life. I tend to run on emotions, so writing can be a bit therapeutic for me. I try to write a bit every day, sometimes ideas turn into songs quickly, sometimes I will hold on to my writing for what seems to be forever before I decide to commit it to song. The process is different for me every time. Some songs tell a story in a really linear way, others are more lyrically abstract, which allows people to apply their own unique meaning. Music is so powerful, we all relate to it a bit differently, but we all relate to it nonetheless.
Jessica Gilbert: Being fluent in Spanish, do you also sing songs in Spanish?
Stesha Cano: I absolutely love Spanish and Latin music of all genres. Flamenco, Bachata, Salsa, etc. I haven’t explored singing or writing in Spanish, but at some point I would love to study those genres with Natives and spend some more time traveling while I am at it. So much of the style is connected with the cultures, it would be important to me to take part in the whole experience.
Jessica Gilbert: You have a CD out called Like A Bee. Tell us a bit about it and the inspiration behind the CD name.
Stesha Cano: “Like A Bee” is the title track of the album. I am inspired a lot by nature and that is a theme that comes up frequently in my writing. Keeping the sound organic and earthy was important to me when recording the album. I used all live instruments with minimal effect in order to achieve the sound that I wanted. It was amazing to work with all of these great musicians and see the songs come together and come to life, recording is a pretty incredible process, and it’s an art unto itself.
Jessica Gilbert: Who are some musicians you admire and look up to?
Stesha Cano: Jill Scott, Kurt Cobain, Florence Welch. People who are “word-smiths” inspire me. Lately, I’ve been blown away by Kimbra.
Jessica Gilbert: How long have you been fronting the cover band Juicebox? Tell us about this band and how you got involved.
Stesha Cano: Juicebox was my first-born “band- baby” where I learned a lot about performance and have been able to play with some really great musicians. It has given me a lot of experience on my instrument and put me into the scene. You have to play live in order to keep your chops up!
Jessica Gilbert: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
Stesha Cano: I would like to see more value placed on the arts. Why are our programs always the first to be cut in schools? Art and music are fundamental human necessities, but so many great artists are underpaid, underrated and underappreciated. I think that support needs to begin locally. It’s become somewhat of a trendy notion lately to say that you support local arts, but saying and doing are quite different. This means more venues for live music, less selling out to Dj’s, this means that local stores should work with local artists to sell merchandise. This means that music festivals should proudly include local acts who have integrity; every national act was a local act at one time or another. It’s about helping and supporting each other. I for one worked with all amazing, local musicians in the recording of Like A Bee, as well as local photographers, engineers, studios etc.
Jessica Gilbert: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
Stesha Cano: Courtney Love said “I told you from the start just how this would end, because I get what I want and I never want it again.” But that’s not very uplifting, is it? I guess I march to my own beat.
Jessica Gilbert: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can our readers find out more about you and your music?
Stesha Cano: www.steshacano.com is my official website, Stesha Cano Music is my Facebook page. I keep updates as to where I am performing and contact/booking information. Please look for me on Itunes, my album is available there for purchase. I always appreciate hearing from people who have enjoyed my music and I encourage you to share it with others, word of mouth is the greatest tool!
Jessica Gilbert: Thanks so much again for doing this interview and wish you all the best with your music in the future.
Stesha Cano: Thank you!