Stevie Appleton combines a duel love of singer-songwriters with the production value of dance to mine an entirely new sound altogether. His new single, Supposed To Do, falls right in the sweet spot of organic and electronic – a three-minute pop record that announces the young musician as a force to be reckoned with in 2018.
“BecauseSupposed To Do spans so many genres, it could be labelled as a singer songwriter, it could be labelled as soul, it could be labelled as dance,” he describes. “You don’t know until you see it live, that might just be a DJ. I think it covers a lot of different places.”
The Surrey-born producer/songwriter is a musician in the truest sense. An accomplished pianist from the age of six, he describes feeling pumped during the writing process, and talks passionately of a love of travel that’s seen him perform with salsa bands in Cuba, classical musicians on the Amalfi Coast of Italy and a hip hop group in Colombia. “Playing around the world like that has given give me a chance to explore some of the things that might be too much for the record. I started as a live musician and performing reminds me why this is the only job I ever want.”
With his distinctive, gravelly voice and bluesy take on the singer-songwriter formula, Stevie spent the last few years embarking on a successful stint as a songwriter and producer for hire. “I must have done 100,000 hours in the studio, doing that and only that,” he laughs. When invited to attend a writing camp for Dutch label Spinnin’ Records he had no idea it would be the moment that would change his career forever.
“I turned up to a writing camp in Holland with my guitar not knowing what to expect and just had the most incredible experience,” he recalls. “I went in with a singer-songwriter approach and it was brilliant how that was produced into a completely different genre, it was kind of a buzz actually”. By the end of the week, he’d got on so well with everyone – and they’d loved his ideas and voice so much – they asked if he wanted to be a full time writer and offered him a deal.
In a similar tale to Ministry of Sound and indie three-piece London Grammar, Stevie was discovered by Spinnin’ Records. In a further twist, he was placed on the radar of Warner Bros. Records when Spinnin’ was acquired by the prestigious major in September of last year. The clincher was new single Supposed To Do – a propulsive, bass-driven groove, written over a vintage drum break. Warner loved the track so much they decided to release it themselves.
“I just picked up a bass and wrote the whole thing in three hours,” he describes of the song writing process. “I took these old drum breaks from vintage 50s and 60s songs, pulled out bits of high hat and snare to make my own loops and started jamming over the top. When I sent it to my manager I got this email straight back saying, ‘WOW’.
“I’m making music in a way that has a soulful edge,” he continues, with future releases – such as tropical house tinged Someone New– hinting at a sharpening of that sonic world. “A singer-songwriter blues-thing but with the real Spinnin Records twist I’ve been influenced by for the last couple of years.”
You get the impression Stevie could go in any direction he wants. A complete 360 artist, he describes how, even back when he was listening to artists such as Jack Johnson or Jason Mraz, he was still going to down to legendary London nightclub Fabric and getting off to drum and bass every night. All he needed was a chance encounter for the disparate pieces of his personality to fall into place.
“I’ve always been into creating a marriage between these two genres,” he continues. “So I just thought – why not? I’m doing something that I love.”