stebee – Songs Recorded in a Bedroom (Butterfly Effect)

stebee – Songs Recorded in a Bedroom (Butterfly Effect)

Recording with instruments made from things around the home Mouses’ Steven Bardgett has released a first solo double-a single, under the name stebee, of lo-fi introspective but upbeat bedroom pop.

SteBee Songs Recorded In A Bedroom artwork

Artist: stebee
Tracks: Songs Recorded in a Bedroom
Label: Butterfly Effect
Released: 28 August 2020
Find it: Bandcamp | Spotify

Perhaps I’m tired, or perhaps it’s the chemistry in my circuitry this day, but I found myself tearing up on first listen to this solo double-A side from Mouses songwriter and guitarist Steven Bardgett.

Songs Recorded in a Bedroom, released under the stebee name, are introspective but never maudlin which meant that as my eyes brimmed a smile was spreading too. Who knew these little songs of identity, defiance, acceptance, and brilliantly enthusiastic improvised instrumentation were exactly what I needed to hear right now.

Insecure dances in, Country-tinged acoustic riffs as a kazoo blasts defiantly on a narrow border between perfectly matched support and screeching imitation of the vocal. A brutally honest face-off with personal insecurities the track reflects on disappointing your younger self by not growing into the person they thought they’d be, but ultimately accepting yourself, perceived flaws and all. It’s a rattling and authentic song with bags, and bags of heart.

Accompanying track Renegade begins as a more measured affair, between vocal and acoustic guitar, before a subtle beat joins. Again thematically it covers the idea of being a person which will never exist, of being different from expectations by others and on the self, and of growing in the likeness of parental figures even if you don’t want to (‘Sometimes when I hear my voice / I hear the voice I heard when I was younger’). The chorus picks up pace and melodically echoes the former track, and the pace stays as the vocal begins to tumble over itself seemingly with emotions long held inside and things unsaid finally given air.

Finding some freedom in setting constraints – no electric instruments, first take recordings – and using the tracks as a mirror on the self has resulted in scrappy bedroom pop (literally, as the tracks were as the title suggests recorded at home in the bedroom) which bursts with vulnerability and, ultimately, joyful creation and acceptance of self.

‘I strive to hit the bar / I set way too high / and way too far / it’s harder than I wanted it to be’

Writing on Bandcamp about the tracks they said, “It’s the most personal stuff I’ve ever wrote so it’s been super daunting releasing this” and in an interview with NARC they expanded on this drawing comparisons to recordings with Mouses.

Steven told them, “It’s definitely more lyrically introspective than Mouses. Less about identity, community, hope and much more focused around mental health, dealing with trauma and my own insecurities. It’s less critical of others and more so of myself…Musically, it’s stripped back and super DIY. There’s no electric instruments whatsoever, which was a conscious decision I made – that in itself makes it the total opposite of Mouses!”

Songs Recorded in a Bedroom is out now on Bandcamp. The limited 7″ edition through Butterfly Effect is sold out.

Find SteBee: Bandcamp | Spotify

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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