In the grand spectrum of music, it’s fair to say that independent artistry means not following the rules of the music industry. Sometimes that means that you don’t release within a cycle. Sometimes that means that you drop a string of singles without them living on a full length. And sometimes it means that you stand out from the herd. Independent music is such a large part of this magazine, that we started a podcast for music released by independent artists without the aid of a label. Our second guest on Self-Released Songs is pop music producer and record producer John Allen Stephens. The Houston based artist and engineer caught our attention years ago when he was with his first band New York City Queens, and his career has just blossomed over time. What sets Stephens apart from many in the music industry is that he’s a warrior for optimism. In hundreds of conversations about hip hop, making albums and performing live, I can’t recall a time where he’s been negative. It’s that optimism and his ability to help an artist achieve their dreams that made this interview such a joy. And the fact that his music is head and shoulders above what many mainstream pop acts are releasing today.
His debut solo album, Radioclub.lp is almost like a beacon of light within the pop music genre. While there are tracks that sparkle and shine like great pop music can, there are also these arrangements that modern pop music doesn’t possess. His keen ability to find the hook and hold your attention far outweigh what you hear on the pop music charts. The way he incorporates multiple instruments between a beat and synths, then he maries soft vocals with top end production makes the album stand out from beginning to end.
With record production, there’s not a name I can recommend enough more than Stephens for artists who made any form of pop related music. Granted, he’s worked with more than just pop acts. But with an ear for pop that culminates in some of the catchiest music without feeling labored you’ll hear, he’s a safe bet as a producer. His work with The Suffers, Tee Vee and Attxla to name a few showcases his results as a record producer. When we interviewed him, he discussed his technique in a world where many artists act like record production can be achieved with just a couple of keystrokes. But it takes more than a YouTube tutorial or a computer program to give music a soul, and Stephens adds just enough to make the songs he works on a living and breathing organism.
You can purchase the music of John Allen Stephens at Bandcamp or on all digital retailers. His music is available to stream on all streaming platforms. You can reach out to John Allen Stephens at his studio Third Coast Recording Co. bout music production and more. The podcast interview with John Allen Stephens is located here, or at the bottom of this screen on mobile or on the side of the screen on desktop.
Image Credits: Photo by Daniela Hernandez.