Bristol-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist takes us on a journey to Iceland in order to reveal all about this new track
2019 has been a particularly busy year for Bristol-based singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Bethany Stenning. Under her performing alter ego STANLÆY, Stenning released a debut album The Human Project back in May. Not content to sit back and soak up comparisons with Joanna Newsom and Sigur Rós, up next was a live rendition of that album, complete with additional string quartet and harp arrangements.
Now comes a new EP, Rif. Expanding on her influences, the four tracks find space for both folk violins and Aphex Twin-inspired beats. Recorded in near isolation in Iceland, it’s truly a collection of contradictory and conflicting songs – which makes the fact that they hold together so well all the more impressive.
Interested to know more, we asked Stenning to breakdown one the EP’s tracks, The Multiverse Moat…
I went to live in Iceland for a few months on my own in a little village called Rif – to get away from the city, and to nit comb my mind with regards to a recent conflict of identity. I was inspired by the visual reconnection of a dream I had when I was a child, combined with the luxury of time to reflect on many things. Obviously nature was a huge inspiration too, being surrounded by such awesome landscapes and feeling so tiny and human amidst it all (in the best way).
The Multiverse Moat is about free will and feeling disassociated. The second part of the song is about the first dream I ever remember having when I was a very little girl and I was swimming in a moat of a castle, before I drowned and woke up. It’s kind of a song about time travelling for me because of that, taking me back to that dream when I was about five or six and reflecting on everything that has changed because of decisions I made since then. All the different versions of me that could have existed had I simply gone down a different path in the flowchart.
I was out there with my guitar, and violin – my two main instruments aside from the voice, so this song was the result of being with the instruments I love to play as a solo musician. I am a big lover of polyphony and enjoy to weave the instruments I play together like separate voices. I also love the sound of combining synthetic produced beats with strings so I got really into that out there whilst I had time to experiment.
In The Studio
I recorded it all on my own in a little studio/room in the place I was staying in Rif. I got really nerdy with making the beats for it for a long time before adding the different layers of other instruments. Since coming back to England, I played some harp on the song too, but for the most part, I wanted it to remain accurate to how I wrote the song out there.
I think The Multiverse Moat track and the EP as a whole is a little window into the thoughts I had out there – I am fond of it as an artefact in a time of deep reflection and feeling, and I am excited to continue writing my new album with my band in Bristol.
Rif is out now via STANLÆY ART. For gig news and more, head to stanlaey.com