if you don't know which way is up, this one's for you.

You may have noticed a radio silence on my end since spring. I lost a brilliant friend who co-directed the music video for Still Taste Fire in March. His name was Kyle Gibby. He passed away unexpectedly the day before we were supposed to meet about a music video idea for "Call It What You Want To" and when I found out, everything stopped. Up to that point, I had been creating a newfound momentum around the EP (and in my life) from a baseline feeling of "this is about to be The Thing!" I was taking risks to be more open and connected in the process, but I was still treating everything as a means to some invisible end. Kyle was such a genius and I really thought that I knew what this video was going to do for both of us. All we had to do was make it and it would be The Thing.

kyle gibby (self portrait) 

kyle gibby (self portrait) 

 

That sort of thinking broke all the way down for me on March 19. Losing such a creative and special human showed me new depths of how little I know. I lost any drive I had to force anything to happen and instead chose to just let myself be still.I spent most of my free time sitting under a walnut tree in my backyard and what started out as a two-week break unfolded into 6 months of letting my mind and heart get quiet. I found myself being a lot more present during the process of whatever came up during the day; dishes, laundry, playing with my daughter, creating a path of stone pavers in the backyard, taking odd jobs (including the occasional show.) Every movement I made from this space felt like the point in and of itself.  I'm trying to see if I can bring that feeling of presence into the process of trying to build and sustain a career as an independent musician. I'll be honest, I don't know. But it feels like the only way to create anything real. 

 

(keep going.) 

walnut tree.jpg

 

 

broken heart + fire safety fail = song

I wrote this song after accidentally falling asleep with a candle burning really low. I woke up to a room full of haze, but couldn't figure out what was wrong until I rubbed my face and saw a streak of soot across my hand. The candle was burning low enough that the wick had just been slowly filling the room with smoke all night. My first thought was "scary/so dumb/no more candles." My second thought was "Finally getting over someone is a lot like spontaneously combusting in the middle of the night and waking up as a new version of yourself." :) I ran to the piano and started writing the first line. 

 

What's This // The Nightmare Before Christmas

 

Stopped by Pale Horse Sound this weekend and recorded a quick one-mic-one-take iPhone video of What's This from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I originally sang it at the Velour Christmas show last weekend. Before that, I had no idea it changed keys 3 times!! I don't read music & it was a fun challenge (aka pretty terrifying) to learn and perform it in less than a week. Here's to doing things that freak us out! Happy holidays! <3

mile marker 2016

I didn't have time to get ready the night of my EP release. I wanted the show to be an experience for every person who entered the room. This meant that all of my time was spent hanging neon lights, rehearsing brand new songs to brand new visuals and tying up last-minute loose ends. My siblings, friends and I were working right up until the pre-show started so I just splashed some water on my face, threw on a dress and ran to meet everyone in the loft. I found a new sense of presence that night because I wasn't there to be seen, I was there to create a space for them. I've been thinking a lot about this lately. It's become a symbol of what I want 2017 to be. I want to reach new levels of forgetting myself through things and experiences I create for others. What else is there? 

 

Scroll down to see some of the moments Tim Hansen (www.timhansenphotography) captured that night. All edits by Russ Dixon (www.russdixonphotography.com):

no makeup .jpg
what it feels like .jpg
goldmyth2.jpg
emily is a champion .jpg
darkness in darkness .jpg
ember.jpg
ridleys crew .jpg
russ is a champion .jpg
hugs for life 2 .jpg
ember street view.jpg

show-and-tell

On Saturday I sent a private link to a voice memo of a new song to my mailing list. Songwriting is the way that I process real life and I realized that by waiting to share new songs until I have a project out I'm basically sharing a 1.5 year old version of myself with people. It hit me that it would be way more fun to let this core group in on the evolution process and hopefully hear about theirs. Zest Radio asked if they could share the link on Twitter and I said yes (I like the idea of people having access to the songs by getting the link from someone they know) but we quickly realized the link had to be made public because twitter automatically converted it to a player, which hid the song. Facepalm. I quickly made it public and called this first attempt a test run. :) I'll be refining the process over this next year, but I'm just excited to be able to share the raw versions of new songs and the stories behind them with you. Click here to join the list if you'd like to be a part of our show-and-tell experiment.  

L.A. Adventures

I got to my friend Jude's house in L.A. the day before Thanksgiving with almost no plans for the week. I was there to spend the holiday at her in-laws and *maybe* shoot something, end of list. Jude is an episodic TV director for shows including Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Fresh off the Boat and Life in Pieces and we'd been talking about doing a music video for months but I'd been feeling a little conceptually stuck. I set my bags down and Jude said "I booked a green screen studio and a makeup artist and my DP Anton is driving up from San Diego. We're just going to play and it doesn't matter if we use any of it. I just want to free up the creative energy." Basically, JUDE IS A BOSS. Here are a couple of snaps from my snapchat (@stephmabey) and a photo Anton took during our greenscreen experiment: 

snapchat: @stephmabey // makeup/hair: nicole hawkyard

snapchat: @stephmabey // makeup/hair: nicole hawkyard

photo: anton lorimer // makeup/hair: nicole hawkyard

photo: anton lorimer // makeup/hair: nicole hawkyard

snapchat: @stephmabey // makeup/hair: nicole hawkyard 

snapchat: @stephmabey // makeup/hair: nicole hawkyard 

instagram: @stephaniemabey 

instagram: @stephaniemabey 

It felt so good to just play and get out of my comfort zone. L.A. adventure highlights include: Thanksgiving with interesting and lovely strangers, walking to Jude's neighbor's house to shoot some stuff on a gopro in their pool (In theory wearing a dress and being underwater should be hella elegant. It turns out that isn't automatically true ...) and being on set while Jude directed an episode of Fresh Off the Boat. Sometimes I forget how much I love being uncomfortable because the unknown is where magic happens. This trip was the best reminder. Can't wait for the next one. 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR TONIGHT's ShoW:

ENTRY: Enter through the gate located on 600 South, not the main entrance on State St. We will be posting some neon on the chainlink so you know you're in the right spot :) PARKING: Below you'll find an outline of free vs. metered parking. I know it might be a little bit of a journey since we're navigating the downtown layout, but I promise once you're inside there will be treats galore. Please contact Casey Chase at (801) 355-4211 if you have any questions about how to get here. DOORS: Doors open at 7:30. I can't wait to see you guys tonight!

-steph

Ember // How I Found The Perfect Release Show Venue

I've been spending the last two weeks imagining what an amazing EP release show would feel like. Not as an artist, but as an audience member. I've been looking for ways to create an experience for the humans who have cared about and supported my music for years as well as the ones who are just discovering it. I knew a key part of this would be finding the perfect space, but I also had a hard time figuring out what that even actually meant. So, I made a list of 100 ideas with the sole purpose of demolishing any mental limits I had around how to do a show. Some of the funnier highlights include a 7-11 parking lot, my bedroom and the aquarium (I still might do one there, though.) "Lamp/lighting showroom? Other large kitchens?" ...  listen, I don't even know what happened there. Mental limits: demolished. The act of picturing weird shows in 100 different places helped me step back and figure out what exactly it was that I wanted to create for people. 

100 ideas 

100 ideas 

 

Later that week I was touring a few spots in downtown SLC with Casey, a lovely & vibrant event manager I'd met through the Utah Venue Market site. They were so close but they still felt like they were missing something. I told her I was looking for an open, minimal space that we could transform with light installations. I also wanted it to have a strange entrance that let you know you were escaping the routine your of everyday life. She paused and said "I just barely took over a building that might actually be perfect. It's brand new. It's called Ember." And then my brain melted. 

Ember // final renovation stage 

Ember // final renovation stage 

 

It was in the final stages of renovation when I saw it, but I couldn't believe how exactly it matched the feeling I was looking for. It even has a strange alternate side entrance that will eventually become an elegant patio (I'm so glad I found it before that happens, though. haha) As I explored the main rooms and the spiral staircase loft I could picture it clearly. The whole experience. I can't wait to create it for you in real life now. 


Tickets on sale now: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/stephanie-mabey-official-ep-release-show-tickets-27481987364

**Early Bird Special: Purchase your ticket before 9/9 and get the group rate of $15 (+ no fees)**

 

 

rewriting patterns

I was originally going to release my EP next Friday. I found myself getting ready to just post it online the same I way I did with Wake Up Dreaming in 2012. Back then I could blame my frazzled, last-ditch effort on some major life changes I was going through, but this time I recognized a pattern: complete and total excitement during the creation process followed by complete and total dread at the thought of a release show. As embarrassing as it is, I realized that it kind of freaks me out to say “I will be making music in a room on this day at this time. Will you come?” I also realized that this EP release could be an opportunity to change that. So I decided to launch a pre-order on the 26th of this month and do the official release on the 23rd of September. Between now and then I’ll be focusing solely on creating a show that will feel magical. And then I’ll ask you if you want to come be a part of it. I kind of can’t wait to rewrite this pattern and see what’s next. 

(photo: Russ Dixon) 

(photo: Russ Dixon) 

...

Been navigating a recent flare-up of anxiety and depression. I remember when it used to be like this all the time and all the ways it used to limit me. I spent a good majority of my life feeling freaked out about pretty much everything. I didn't know how to make life choices based on anything but fear. I have spent the last 5 years actively challenging this part of my mind. It's been a lot of work. When I move forward it's because I consciously choose to. Sometimes it feels like clawing at the sides of a pit, but eventually I grab hold of something and pull myself up. I'm grateful for the way I've been feeling so thrown off lately because I will get to the other side and have more tools I can use next time. I don't know why being a human on the earth hasn't come easily for me, but I'm weirdly grateful. I hope it helps me learn how to build bridges for other people who might feel stuck. 📷: Russ Dixon

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Heart-Shaped Hall-O-Gram

My friend Russ brought a car full of camera/lighting equipment from CO to shoot the live version of Heart-Shaped Hologram. We used an iPhone, some masking tape and a tripod.

Brave Little iPhone

Brave Little iPhone

Russ wanted to test the light from a window in the hallway and we just decided to just shoot it then, leaving the rest of the equipment untouched. I'm guessing that if they were alive (Brave-Little-Toaster-style)  the cameras would have tried to bully the iPhone using a creepy song about shooting in low light as a metaphor as soon as we left the room to take a break. But right at the scariest part, they would have been interrupted by our return and the iPhone saving the day ... Brave-Little-Toaster-style. 

Basically, our live shoot was pretty magical. Something cool happens when you're willing to just show up and experiment, regardless of your plans. 

 

Check out Russ' instagram feed to make your eyes/heart happy: www.instagram.com/russdixon