|Location: Meridian, ID, USA|
|Description: Music for the rest of us... Accessible and emotive guitar-based roots-rock abundant with pop sensibilities.|
|Biography: Don’t call him a multi-instrumentalist even though he plays drums, guitar, bass, keyboards, a touch of trumpet and also sings. JD Stefan would rather be known as a writer and producer and after one spin of his first solo effort Soul Divided that reasoning becomes apparent. His creative songwriting and lush arrangements are always accessible and maintain a strong emotive appeal.
On stage, Stefan is a deft performer and always seems to be having a good time whether he’s gently caressing the notes out of his guitar or attacking it. He delivers his heartfelt songs in a dynamic and clear voice that evokes a hint of Peter Gabriel, Howard Jones and Elton John.
Stefan grew up on the peninsula in California’s San Francisco Bay Area in a diverse musical family. With older siblings tuned to pop and acid rock offerings of the ‘70s and parents playing records that ranged from big band and swing to classical, music was everywhere. Stefan recalls this eclectic musical environment as “a schizophrenic background track to my formative years” and it was nearly inevitable that he would pursue a course towards music. The influences weren’t purely recorded ones however. JD’s grandfather was a successful band leader and trumpet player who traveled with both Ringling Bros. and Mills Brothers circus bands under the big tops. JD’s father and uncle were also part of his grandfather’s bands playing trombone and cornet respectively. JD’s father also plays a bit of guitar and piano too. His mother was influential as well. As a long-time piano teacher she instilled the basics of musical theory and piano that gave JD his start at age seven. Fast forward to high school and Stefan has been playing drums for several years and added guitar, bass and vocals to his musical toolkit and started writing his own material. Although he would continue to focus primarily on drums in various bands for the next few years it was writing, recording and producing that became his passion.
“I love the creative process and it’s the reason behind learning to play other instruments besides drums and piano." says JD. "I often start arranging during the song writing process and when I get in ‘the zone’ creatively, I start moving pretty fast and getting my ideas down quickly by just picking up another instrument has become a normal part of my writing process. It might also be that I sometimes get so excited when writing something that I get impatient to hear the full results.”
In a fairly seamless evolution, JD found himself moving out from behind the drum kit to the front of the stage and presenting his material as both singer and guitarist. During that time he contributed multiple instruments to the critically acclaimed evocative indie band Dart (Che’ Records/U.K.) on several releases including the well-received full-length 36 cents an Hour. In 1994 he recorded and produced an instrumental release for the Berkeley, CA-based nature retailer The Nature Company which sold over 25,000 units in stores throughout the U.S. He formed Overcurve in 1996 with drummer Doug Reagin and guided the band through nearly a decade of performances in and around the Bay Area. Stefan also recorded and produced both of Overcurve’s full-length CD’s; Overcurve in 2000 and Tilt in 2006 and released them through his own Catwerk Music publishing label. Tilt would be the last Overcurve release but as one that doesn’t remain idle for long, Stefan released his debut solo effort Soul Divided in May of 2006.
“Soul Divided is my vanity album,” laughs Stefan who not only wrote and performed all the tracks but also produced, engineered and mixed the disc. “It sort of closes one door for me and opens a bunch of others. Some of the songs on the CD have been with me for a long time and it’s great to let them see the light of day along with some brand-new stuff.”
It’s the thrill of creating a new song and the rush of the process itself that drives Stefan. “I still love to play the drums,” states JD, “but I’ve found a real affinity with guitar and bass as well and all are deeply ingrained in how I write. Still, one of my favorite things about recording a song is the part when I get to track the drums. By having several different instruments to choose from on any given day, chances are I’ll find one that fits my mood.”
INDEPENDENT ARTIST STEPS OUT ON HIS OWN
John “JD” Stefan has released his first solo effort through Catwerk Music. The 13 songs on Soul Divided showcase JD Stefan’s artistry on everything from his crisp songwriting, memorable hooks and vocal talents to his considerable skills as a musician and producer. Having performed, recorded and produced all the tracks on the disc, Soul Divided is, in JD’s words “a true vanity album and music for the rest of us.”
Soul Divided is an evocative journey clothed in a pop-flavored roots-rock format with a tinge of blues mixed in. Drawing on his diverse influences JD has created an album that is both emotive and accessible giving the listener everything from the straight-up pop sensibilities of “Roll With Me” to the final shimmering strains of “A Thousand Reasons” paying a bit of homage to reverb-drenched halcyon days.
The most surprising thing about Soul Divided is the fact that it sounds like a band and not a single individual and the tracks contain just enough rawness to keep an edge on the songs throughout. Catchy and up-beat tunes somewhat prevail but there is always a hint of something a bit darker bubbling under the surface of JD’s lyrics and tracks wrapped as they are in his formidable production sheen. Soul Divided is one of those collections that reveal its many facets and layers with each subsequent spin.
Soul Divided can be purchased online at www.cdbaby.com/jdstefan or through various online digital outlets including Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Also look for JD’s work “Elevations”, the re-titled instrumental CD he originally created for The Nature Company and both Overcurve releases at www.cdbaby.com.