Early in my KXLU DJ days I have memories of scrambling to find music to curate for the graveyard shifts. One of the artists I came across during this period was Atlanta-based “Stevie Dinner”, with some classic, upbeat Indie Rock tracks. Upon discovering their music I came to enjoy it, wondering if they would release anything again. To my surprise, I recently discovered that Stevie Dinner came back with the full-length album “True Story” and included a new member to the group, Steph. I got the opportunity to speak with both Josh and Steph about Stevie Dinner and the inspiration behind their long-awaited album, True Story. Read the full interview below!
In its beginnings, Stevie Dinner started off as a solo project of Josh’s and since 2015 he had been making new tracks, but hadn’t released any of them to the public. Josh tells me that a majority of True Story was a culmination of demos from over the years that were revisited and fleshed out, adding that “we ended with something different than what we started with”. He initially sent Steph a list of demos, and they chose some to expand upon and evolve.
While most of True Story started off as a collection of Josh’s demos, Steph tells me there is an overall theme to the album; an “arch of living on the fringes of society”…the story of a broke, starving artist essentially. Steph expresses that while collaborating with Josh on this album and joining Stevie Dinner, they fell in love. I always love a good love story, and this got me dying to know more about how this Stevie Dinner love story unfolded.
Steph gets into detail, telling me that “A friend told me to jam with Josh”. Steph had their own solo project (Plant Prophet) and was planning a small tour. Steph asked Josh if he wanted to join a bill in New York and play a Stevie Dinner set, but he said he didn’t have a live band. Jokingly, Steph, who was also performing solo at the time, said, “Maybe we can be each other’s bands”. Josh wasn’t able to play as Stevie Dinner, but he ended up coming to Steph’s Atlanta show and pressing play on their backing tracks. From there, they decided to play some music together, and “something just clicked” according to Steph. Since Steph was heading abroad to London, they spent lots of time together making music before their move. While Steph went abroad, they continued to collaborate digitally anyway.
Listening through True Story again, I can definitely see tidbits of their love story coming through the music; Themes of love and communication through different time zones especially.
I ask Steph and Josh what their favorite Stevie Dinner tracks are. Josh responds with “Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em”, because “it’s funky”, and Steph with “Cutting It Close”, because “it was fun to make, but a pain to mix, so it’s really rewarding”.
Because 5 years have passed since Stevie Dinner’s last release, I ask them how True Story differentiates from Stevie Dinner’s past music. Josh tells me that for True Story, they were “revisiting old recordings and adding new elements, but with a better sense of production and vision”. He says that with this revisit, “songs settled down” and Steph also brought a lot of good ideas as well as new songs altogether. Steph says that “True Story is a pretty experimental album” and is similar to the work of Broadcast or Stereolab, two big inspirations.
With Stevie Dinner now a duo, I ask them if they have any dream venues or performances they’d like to do. Steph “want[s] to play in Berlin”, and Josh “want[s] to have a dance party on a certain politician’s grave”. While this is my first time meeting Stevie Dinner, these answers feel very on brand for the both of them.
Closing, they want people to know that Black Lives still matter and “voting is not the end all be all…keep pushing for change”…They’re absolutely right! New music, tours, and merch are also in the works.
While I was excited for a new Stevie Dinner release since 2015, hearing about Steph and Josh’s story of collaboration and love makes it even better, and through multiple listens these themes shine through and make True Story something very special. I highly encourage you to take a look at this album, as some of my favorite tracks are Fantasize, Baby Blue, The Joy of Invention and Stray Cat. Keep up with Stevie Dinner updates on Instagram and Twitter. Listen to Stevie Dinner’s music on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.
Interview Written By: Alexa Terry
Photography By: Salim Garcia