July Newsletter: NO-vember

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WHAT A MONTH!

Last month, I mean. Not November. “November” is your demo for July, but I’ll get to that in a moment!

First of all, here are all of the secret demos of this year, if you’ve missed any:

January - Why Snow White
February - Sparkbird
March - Rebreather
April - After the Ball
May - Вертишейка (Wryneck)
June - Arboretum

I spent June playing a handful of shows in the UK, Kaliningrad (Russia), and New York. It was a strange, surreal, magical month. I met so many wonderful people, and had so many wonderful experiences — it’s too much to describe in this newsletter, but you can peruse my InstagramFacebook, and/or Twitter for a lot of the details! And I’ll be writing several posts about it this month on my blog.

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Content warning: sexual assault, self-harm

I concluded the tour with an interview with a Tara Santora, a reporter for the National Audubon Society, talking about the intersection of birding and my music. I actually mentioned this month’s song, “November,” when talking to them about how birds can be used as characters in songs. In “November,” a Loggerhead Shrike appears briefly. Shrikes are carnivorous songbirds who impale their prey on thorns and barbed wire fences. Cute but deadly, this bird struck me as a fitting character in a song about abuse and sexual assault.

I haven’t been particularly vocal in adding my voice to the #MeToo movement — but yes, #MeToo. Experiences of sexual assault are among the many issues I’ve addressed in years of therapy. The incidents that most strongly inspired this song took place when I was 16 and 18. I still struggle with the repercussions of other people’s violence against me. These experiences have impacted my confidence, my belief in my own abilities, my sense of self-worth. At the time, they fueled a tendency toward self-harm — specifically, cutting — that I thankfully haven't engaged in in over 10 years.

Can't pick them out,
Can't press them in;
I'll never hide my scars.


As a cis-assumed non-binary person, it’s often tough to know where my story fits in. And I worry about speaking over other people who are even less represented than I am — black and indigenous trans women, for example. So I usually keep it to myself. But of course my story matters too, and one place I feel comfortable opening up about it is in my music.

In writing this song — and all of my songs, really — I was influenced by the queer Russian poet Mikhail Kuzmin, who used chains of symbolic associations along with intertextuality (references to other writers’ works and his own) to create poems loaded with intriguing imagery. (Whether or not I ever come close to succeeding is for the Kuzmin scholars among you to judge!)

My other time machine: 
A pungent, putrid 
Brownish-green 
November smile 
Blandishing 
My two-timing door—


As dark as this subject matter is, I love performing this song, and I’m so excited about this demo! As always, it’s a work in progress, and subject to change — but the strings and bass and recorders and percussion are really bringing it an intense, driving energy.

I hope you enjoy the song — and I hope you’ll be able to join me for a show sometime soon! I’ve got some upcoming dates in Portland, Eugene, Olympia, and Boston, with more to come.

Take care,
Stephan

www.stephannance.com

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PS Do you want me to come to your city? Tell me and I’ll try to make it happen! (I don’t always know where people want me to go…) Also, if you’re curious about hosting a concert, it’s easier than you might think! Especially if you're in the US or Canada. Piece of cake.

Shows

July 5 - Artichoke Music, Portland, OR
July 19 - Hotel RL, Olympia, WA
July 20 - Hotel RL, Olympia, WA
July 21 - Eugene Piano Academy, Eugene, OR
August 9 - Hotel RL, Olympia, WA
August 10 - Hotel RL, Olympia, WA
September 13 - Hotel RL, Olympia, WA
September 14 - Hotel RL, Olympia, WA
September 28 - Sofar Sounds, Boston, MA
Other East Coast shows are possible for late September — stay tuned, and get in touch if you want to make sure something happens where you are!