The Meet The Artist series highlights amazing and talented performing arts professionals from diverse backgrounds. We’re back with this month’s featured artist. We encourage you to watch these videos with an open mind, and to remember that starting a relationship with an artist can be something smaller than a mainstage show such as inviting them to lead a workshop, sit on a panel, or collaborate with an artist local to you.
We’re back with this month’s featured artist - Silent St.j. Singer/songwriter Silent St.j, perfectly marries Alternative Folk and soulful vocals creating an emotional resonance with her music. She has the ability to enchant her listeners with honest and captivating lyrics and hauntingly soothing vocals. Silent St.j sparks a sense of wonder in the hearts of any audience, taking them on a journey through the liminal spaces of her mind.
Transcription of the Interview
Sydney: Hello, everyone. My name is Sydney. My pronouns are she/her and I am the Digital Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Ontario Presents. I am an Asian woman with long hair and bangs, wearing a grey sweater, and for this month’s Meet the Artist spotlight. I am joined today by an incredible singer-songwriter, Silent St.j.
Before I begin the interview, I just want to remind everyone that captions are available for this video and you can find a transcript of this interview on our website, link in the description box below. Silent St.j., welcome and thank you so much for joining us today for our Meet the Artist Spotlight. We’re going to go ahead and start with a quick icebreaker question. Can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?
Silent St.j: Hi, everyone. I’m Silent. St.j. Yeah, I’m a singer, songwriter, very highly creative person. Yeah, a lot of my music kind of is about a lot of very introspective ideas that I’ve learned about myself and that I like to share with others. Yeah.
Sydney: Awesome. So you mentioned that some of your favourite artists when you were growing up include Janet Jackson, Brandy, the Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé, Hilary Duff, The Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato. Was there something in particular about these artists that drew you into their music and do you find that their songs have influenced your identity and your artistry as a musician?
Silent St.j: It’s so funny because like my music today, the music that I make is so different from the music I used to listen to when I first started making music. Like all these artists, they kind of fit into more of this like pop genre. And I love a good pop song. I’ll always love a good pop song.
But my performing days, so when I was younger, like Janet Jackson and like Beyoncé, I really admired them as performers and as, like, just a vocalist. Like, I remember just like, repeating songs by them and just trying to, like, sound like them vocally. And then, I don’t know, it’s so funny. Just like as I grew up, like my, what I listen to sort of kind of changed in a way.
There was like this weird shift in my brain where I, like, found out that people actually write their own songs. And I think there was there was a song by Demi Lovato that I found out that she wrote by herself. No co-writers, no nothing. She wrote this one song and I was so in awe by the song.
I was like, people just write their own songs. Like, what? That’s so crazy. So like, I was like, I want to start doing that. I want to write a song. And like, before then, I would, I’d write poetry and stuff like really bad poetry, but like poetry and I’d like, sing them like, sing the lyrics, I guess. And then I realised if you just add music to that, that’s basically a song.
So it all kind of like, songwriting for me started that way. And then I was like, I want to try this more. So I started playing guitar so I can like, sing to something. And then, yeah, it’s, it’s weird because like all these artists, I don’t know, all these artists kind of like, I feel like they all in a way influenced me to get to where I am, if that makes sense. They like, I don’t think they necessarily influence me now, but they kind of guided me on my journey to where I am now if that makes sense.
Sydney: It absolutely does. I think it’s kind of cool that there’s this parallel of like you discovering that like Demi Lovato wrote one of her own songs and then moving from like writing poetry to like creating music to add to that poetry to learning guitar and to becoming this like one-person kind of production powerhouse. That’s really cool for you to share. Thank you.
Silent St.j: Thank you. Yeah.
Sydney: I also noticed in an interview that you mentioned that you have a live show ritual where you ask your audience to close their eyes for one of your songs. How did that ritual come about?
Silent St.j: Oh, cool. It’s funny because it, it’s one of the most special moments that I, do during my shows. And anyone who’s been to a show, really, it’s such a “You have to be there kind of moment.” And it’s funny because it’s grown into this thing. I feel like anyone who’s come to my show more than once, they kind of expect it to happen and it’s a very emotional, very, very emotional feeling and situation that are just like this, very emotional environment that’s created during this live show ritual.
And it’s funny because it all started with, I guess, my nerves in a way. I tend to get lost in my music very much when I’m in shows and I tend to like, close my eyes, especially when I’m really feeling my music or when I’m in my zone. I tend to close my eyes and one time I was very in my zone throughout, throughout this whole performance.
And I, I caught myself. I was like, Oh, wait, my eyes have been closed this whole time. And then just kind of like, I don’t know, it was just out of nowhere. It was like, “Everyone close your eyes with me for this next song.” And it just, like, it changed. Like the song itself is very nostalgic. The song is called Nostalgia and every time I play it, I tend to go somewhere.
I go somewhere special. And for this, the first time that I did this, where I ask everyone to close their eyes, it, I kind of like guided everyone on their own journey through like their nostalgic mind and like just kind of letting them sit in their memories. And it was so cathartic and such a beautiful moment. And it just kind of like opened up the room and it was just such a beautiful moment that I was like, I have to do this at every show.
Everyone needs to experience this. Everyone needs to get a chance to like, feel nostalgic and feel, have a moment just to like, feel whatever it is they’re feeling. So like, often what I do is I like, ask everyone to close their eyes and like I give them. I like to give them space to feel what it is that they’re feeling in that moment, whether they know what they’re feeling or not.
Because often what I do is like I ask people to like, sit in a memory and it could be any memory, whether it’s like a very happy one or like one of those really mundane moments or like, if it’s a sad moment, I ask for them if they need that, feel free to just sit in this moment and feel that emotion, because I think throughout life we tend to kind of ignore those moments and we’re always in a rush.
So we never really give our emotions, whether they are really big ones, or small ones, or really heavy ones. We tend to forgive them or forget to give them the space and time to kind of be and feel it. So like, I like giving people whatever that three-minute span of time when you’re listening to that song to feel that emotion, whatever it is.
Sydney: It’s really wonderful. I like the idea of giving people that space to kind of explore those memories, just to kind of sink into the and a really cool experience of also being like in a physical space and knowing that people are going through similar but also vastly different journeys. And it’s all because of the power of being in one space together and experiencing this one song and this one moment together.
I kind of want to circle back on your point about how it’s one of those “you have to kind of be there” moments.I know that you are a regular performer at small venues and local showcases, and this kind of helped to create a sense of community in your audience. Did this sense of community change throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Silent St.j: Funnily enough, I think my sense of community like grew so much bigger than what it was pre-COVID. And I think that having that shutdown, having everyone be stuck inside their house and not be able not being able to have a sense of community, if that makes sense, kind of made everyone more appreciative of it.
So it kind of grew. And also I think throughout COVID, a lot of people experience a lot of the things that I sing about, which is just like a lot of my songs are very introspective and they’re very thought-provoking and self-reflective, and it’s really cool that that’s what we were all kind of forced to do. So coming out of it, myself included, we all kind of going into the world.
We had like this new perspective, and a lot of my songs also came with that new perspective. And I think just like the community really connected to what I was writing and the songs I was singing and what I was saying through my music. And yeah, it just grew that way. I think, just like, I think a lot of people coming out of COVID felt lonely and so did I.
And I was just singing about it. And in a way that loneliness kind of brought everyone together and brought people together.
Sydney: That’s pretty much the power of art, right?
Silent St.j: Yeah.
Sydney: That ability to relate from any place, any walk of life. And they all kind of find that parallel in art. And I kind of wanted to expand more about the community aspect of our and how it brings us all together. And I noticed you’re a frequent feature at fundraiser concerts, including the Residential Schools Survivor Society and Fairy Creek Land Defenders Fundraiser concert and The Root Dwellers Showcase that was held in partnership with Urban Native Youth Association. Could you share with us a little bit about your personal relationship with community advocacy through the arts?
Silent St.j: It’s, I like to just like involve myself with like situations and like events that kind of showcase the communities and socially marginalised communities because that’s so, so, so, so needed. And just like giving light and space to voices who don’t have that. And it’s just so important to do so. So I try to like keep myself involved with that is like a reminder that like the land that we’re on is not our own. And like, yeah, like I said, giving space to give voices who are silence, a space to speak.
Sydney: Awesome, Amazing. I wanted to kind of circle back to your point about introspection through your songs, and I noticed that your songs often originate from a variety of sources, including a statue made by Rafaelle Monti and your own personal experiences with the ebb and flow of the healing process. I was wondering, how do you find inspiration for your work and what does your creative process look like from the moment of inspiration to the final song that we get to hear?
Silent St.j: It’s so funny because like, I think I’m a very routine kind of person. So I think the routine of it kind of stays the same. But a lot of my inspiration is so internal. It’s like my music and the songs that I write, as selfish as this sounds, are like very much for me and for me to understand more of myself and how I view the world around me.
So a lot of it comes from what I’m feeling and how I’m feeling and how I process what I’m feeling and even like when my inspiration is external. So let’s say the song that I wrote about a statue initially, the song is about the statue, but if you really listen to the song, the song is about how, how I wish I was clean as a statue.
And that song kind of came from this idea of not feeling beautiful and how internally I don’t feel kind of seen as beautiful in this world. So a lot of my inspiration comes from like these grand emotions that I feel and I feel emotions so grandly, but also I’ve had so much trouble trying to process them and trying to understand them.
And there’s such this, like there’s such a conflict, to have such grand emotions and have such big emotions but still be so conflicted in what I am feeling and how I’m feeling and what these emotions are and how I can process them. So a lot of my music is just me trying to figure out and process my emotions. So yeah, it all comes from inside. It’s very introspective. But yeah.
Sydney: There’s definitely a beauty in introspection in that you’re always kind of examining like different facets of like the human experience. And the beautiful part of that as well is that there’s really someone out there who listens to your songs and they’re just like, this person, like, understands exactly how I feel., and they have naturally turned that feeling into words, into a way that people can actually understand, and that’s a really cool thing to do. So, yeah, thank you so much for sharing that. So as we are wrapping up the interview, is there anything else you want to share or do you have any upcoming work that we should be on the lookout for?
Silent St.j: Yeah, so I actually have an album that I’ll be releasing in April, which I’ve been working really hard on and I’m really proud of and I’m really excited to share along with a couple of singles that will be released before then. So I’m really excited for that and excited to finally get them out there and have everyone hear them and kind of hear them myself from like a listener’s point of view versus like very critiquing kind of point of view.
Sydney: Yeah, awesome stuff. Thank you so much. Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us and to participate in the art spotlight. You can find -
Silent St.j: Thank you so much for having me.
Sydney: Yeah, no problem. You can find Silent St.j’s social media handles in the description box below and at the bottom. of the transcript of this video. Thank you so much for watching this video and we look forward to seeing you in the next Meet the Artist Spotlight.
Silent St.j: Thank you. Have a great day.
Sydney: You too.
Keep up to date with Silent St.j on social media:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/silentst.j/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SilentSt.j/
- Website: https://linktr.ee/silentstj