Steph Bitter, one of Bendigo’s talented artists held her first EP launch this past Sunday the 1st May at Rock Pride Music. This cool, relaxed and inviting establishment created an excellent atmosphere for all to enjoy the evening.
Bridie Lynas kicked off the events with beautiful renditions of original and cover music, before handing over to Steph to finish off the evening.
Before the event kicked off, Steph provided an insight into her interests in music and how she got to where she is today.
Who are your main influences in music?
“When I was 10, my parents took me to my first concert, and I was inspired immensely by it; by Josh Pyke. That concert was what kick-started my love for music, and Josh Pyke is the artist that has influenced me the most in terms of my own songwriting. I have, however, been very inspired by the likes of John Butler and a band called Daughter.”
When and why did you start singing and playing the guitar?
“I had sung in the school choir through most of primary school, and always loved to sing. For such a shy, introverted child, I remember being so excited to join up with the school choir. I wanted to join in Prep, but I remember they wouldn’t let me until I was in Grade 1 when I could read the words better. When I finally joined, I loved it, and I don’t really remember why I stopped, but I think it was because my friends stopped going and people started to laugh. At one point I made it into the Australian Youth Choir, but we couldn’t afford to continue so I never went. I only started playing guitar when I was 14. In year 7, we did a music elective class, and to begin with I was terrified of the idea that I might have to stand in front of a class and perform something. Apart from my involvement in the primary school choir, I wasn’t properly musical at all, and I was so nervous every time I walked into that class. Luckily I never had to perform, but I did fiddle around on the piano in class, and was surprised at how easy it was to make music like this. So I decided that, seeing I loved music so much, why don’t I start making some of my own? I had done it with books and writing, so why couldn’t I do it with music? For a while, I started learning piano, and then a few months later I decided a piano was a difficult thing to carry around with you, so I picked up my little brother’s guitar and started teaching myself. I was so excited by it all that I went and bought my own guitar, and enrolled in music in Year 8 (and later in Year 9, 10, 11 and 12), taking every opportunity, I could to learn more. It was then that I started singing again. Music quickly went from my least favourite class, to the only class I looked forward to.”
You have played across a variety of places, which of your shows are the most memorable?
“My most memorable ‘show’, if you could call it that, was one of the first times I played in front of my friends, and the first time I performed the first song I ever wrote: Your Revolution (which is on the EP). It was at my 15th birthday party, at night around the campfire. Just me, my guitar, and a sheet of paper (in case I forgot the lyrics). Apart from that, I performed in a ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition at my school in Year 9. I was allowed to participate solo because I was playing an original; the second song I wrote, called Golden Heart (also on the EP). I didn’t win any prizes, but one of the judges was Colin Thompson, the founder and organiser of Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival. Instead of a prize, I got his business card, and he asked me to call him when I had a 45-minute set, and he’d hook me up with some gigs around Bendigo. To me, that was just as good as, if not better than 1st prize.”
Where else would you like to play, any dream stages?
“I don’t have any particular dream stages that I’d like to play, but ideally I’d like to fill up a venue like Festival Hall in Melbourne, or even Rod Laver if I’m lucky. I’d like to play on stages like that all around the world.”
You’re releasing your first album First of May on the 1st of May, what was the process like going into recording and organising your launch at Rock Pride Music.
“Recording this EP was very sudden. My guitar teacher, Sereja (Serge) Straznik, had talked about it for quite a while, but we had never done much about it until he was going to leave town and go travelling. So around this time last year, I prepared my five songs, and we recorded them in his home studio across a weekend. We experimented with different sounds, different instruments, and he helped me to fill the songs out
a bit more. It was a very relaxed, experimental process, and before I knew it, I had five songs recorded and no idea what to do with them. Eventually I got my footing, started finding the funds to print it, and began to arrange the finer details. It took a while, but it’s finally here. Skip offered RPM to me for the launch some time ago, and it was the perfect place to host it; a cosy, stylish, family-friendly venue with an awesome ambiance. So when everything was almost ready to go, I contacted him, set the date, and we were all set to go.”
Have you got any tips for musicians looking to create their own albums?
“There are plenty of other musicians around Bendigo that have been doing this longer, and probably more professionally than me, but to anyone who wants to record an album: MAKE IT ALL ORIGINAL MATERIAL. Covers are good set-fillers for live performances, or to grab people’s attention, but that’s about it. If you’re going to record an album, make sure they’re all your own songs. To begin with, you’ll be saving and making so much more money because you won’t have to pay copyright fees. Plus, you’ll create a fan base around your own music, rather than around someone else’s, which is a much stronger foundation in the music industry.”
The First of May is available now through contact with Steph and is a great listen for anyone who looks for lyrics and sound filled with passion, thought and real life experiences.
By Rhiannon Lloyd