“I’m Stella Farnan! I write songs with chords, I decide what to cook for lunch, I listen to Charli XCX, I run for the tram, I play my yellow guitar in my room, I play music with my friends and that’s pretty much it,” Stella tells Eat This Music at the top of our chat about her newest single, ‘The Blue‘. All things considered though, Stella is doing pretty well – in fact, she is eating some delicious noodles [at the time of answering the question] and feels like her brain is starting to wake up from a big hibernation. This year Stella has been releasing some music and making some music videos.
For a musician like Stella, it has been great to bring new life into relatively old songs. She has also been playing in a few other peoples’ bands and has essentially been learning heaps from that.
“It’s super weird and really great. ‘The Blue’ is a pretty old song to me – as is all the music I’ve put out so far,” Stella reflects on the release of her single “I wrote it when I was 17 and started recording in late 2018. I feel like every step towards the final product has brought a bit more life back into the songs – writing, recording, performing, and releasing.”
I tried my best to listen to it as little as possible in the time between getting the final master and release day cause I wanted to make the most of that refreshed feeling. I think I’m mostly just relieved that I’m still proud of the song even though it’s been so long since I first wrote it. — Stella Farnan
Stella was navigating that ol’ tightrope of adolescence when she wrote ‘The Blue’, and remembers it being one of those periods of time where all of her closest peoples’ lives were kinda turning to shit. “Everyone was needing to lean on each other,” Stella says. “I remember coming home from school to an empty house and feeling a bit generally defeated. I sat down at our old family piano and just had a sing for some comfort and catharsis.”
Writing ’The Blue’ was a way for Stella to momentarily indulge in those feelings of defeat before directing them into some kind of step forward, “I think the chorus’ mantra ‘Maybe I should take mine’ was both self-criticism and self-encouragement – when all other avenues have been exhausted, sometimes you’ve just got to take your own advice,” Stella continues. “I titled one of those very first writing voice memos ‘The Blue’ just because it was one of the lyrics, and that title stuck.”
On whether Stella’s single still represented what she wanted to say at the start of its creative process, well, it was super strange to think about, because looking back, Stella was a super different person when she wrote this song: “I feel like a lot has happened in my life in those four years between writing and release,” Stells explains. “I was just listening back to the original voice memos from the day I wrote it and my voice sounds soo different. But! I do think that generally, the song means the same thing to me. The sentiment is pretty simple and transparent, and to me, it still rings true.”
The writing process for this song was just Stella and a piano initially. When she got her first gig she had to come up with an arrangement she could play on guitar, becayse that’s the instrument she plays live. That arrangement became the foundation for the recorded version.
“In the meantime, I met my friend Soren Maryasin while studying composition at uni and we decided to start recording my EP together – Soren working as producer/player/engineer/wizard,” continues on the creative process. “A few of the other songs took a few goes to get the right sound palette, but this one was always pretty simple and straightforward. From what I can remember, the main elements were all laid down in a couple of takes… except the vocals.”
“That process was long and painstaking. ‘The Blue’ was a part of the first round of songs that I had properly recorded. It was all pretty fresh, and there were a lot of elements that Soren and I were learning on the fly.” — Stella Farnan on the creative process
Writing ‘The Blue’ was a pretty therapeutic process, reflective of how Stella was feeling in the moment. She wasn’t considering who might hear it someday, or what they might think. It was just for Stella, “I suppose not only the content of the song, but that approach to writing was reflective of where I was at with my songwriting at the time,” Stells clarifies. “More recently I’ve been trying to write with more purpose or direction from the outset – I come up with a specific concept/idea/question to write about and fill in the blanks from there. I don’t think either process is particularly better or worse, I just like flexing both muscles at different times.”
Listeners can take away whatever they want from this song. This song is pretty transparent. It’s just a sad song. But it’s a sad song with a call to action. Take your own advice. Create your own next step. But Stella has no idea. What does it mean to you? Maybe nothing at all! Maybe you just like the piano or the drums. Maybe you hate it! Stella won’t stop you!
2021 is a busy time for Stella as she has got an EP coming out real soon. Additionally, she has been writing lots, and Soren and Stella are heading back into the studio to start making the next thing; whatever that may be. “I’m feeling super excited about it all cause we always have the greatest time making music together,” Stella adds. “We’re also playing a lovely afternoon show curated by Rockhopper Records as a part of Leaps and Bounds Music Fest on July 24th at Fitzroy Townhall! Come along!”