Stephan Nance was born in Eugene, Oregon and raised in the unincorporated area of Santa Clara. They started banging on the piano as soon as they could reach it, moving on to formal lessons at age 6. The formal lessons were a little too formal, though, and eventually Stephan switched to studying jazz, blues, boogie-woogie, ragtime, and novelty piano under Vicki Brabham of The Emerald City Jazz Kings.
From as early as they can remember, Stephan was making up songs to entertain themself and their family. These ranged from completely original ten-second compositions to pages of verses set to the tune of Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. In high school they realized it was possible to play piano and sing at the same time, and thus the doors of fully-fledged songwriting were flung open.
They began uploading performances of their original songs to Youtube in 2008, with “Song for Losers” amassing over 100,000 views. Over the next few years, they released two EPs — Tricky to See (2008) and A Piece of the Piece (2011). In 2012, they released their Kickstarter-funded debut studio album, A Troubled Piece of Fruit (2012). To celebrate, they played a free outdoor bike-powered show sponsored by Pedal Power Music and City of Eugene Transportation Planning, with complimentary vegan Coconut Bliss ice cream for all.
The trilingual song “Japanese Garden” (with lyrics in English, French, and Russian, but none in Japanese) was nominated for Best Alternative Song in the 8th Annual OUTmusic Awards. Rebecca DeMoss’s artwork for the album also earned a nomination.
The end of 2012 also saw the release of Stephan’s holiday track “Song for Santa (Jingle Your Own Damn Bells!),” an infectious 6-minute romp through snowy fields of intersectional feminism and queer theory, anti-speciesism and fair labor practices.
Stephan’s “Song for Losers” was nominated for Best Song So Far in the 2013 RightOutTV Music & Video Awards.
These marginal successes were followed by a prolonged interval of trauma-induced creative block, which lasted from 2013 until 2016.
After years of therapy and immersion in the world of birdwatching, Stephan finally returned to music with newfound vigor, churning out dozens of new songs. These new songs explore a wide range of topics, from sexual assault to the environmental racism of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, and reference more than 30 species of birds.
In 2017, Stephan toured Japan, playing 9 shows in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shunan (Yamaguchi Prefecture), Fukuoka, Nagasaki, and Ibusuki (Kagoshima Prefecture). Then, in association with Red Lion Hotel Corporation, Stephan played shows at boutique Hotel RL locations in Salt Lake City, Spokane, Olympia, Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.
To promote a special pre-release demo edition of their new Incredible Distance EP, Stephan finished the year with the first leg of the Incredible Distance Tour, with stops in the UK, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Italy, France, and Morocco.
Early 2018 saw the official release of Incredible Distance and the Japan leg of the Incredible Distance Tour, with shows in Sapporo, Fukuoka, Ibusuki, Saga, Shunan, Okayama, and Shimosuwa.
Somehow, in the midst of all this, Stephan graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, with a minor in French and a strong focus on Queer Studies. Their article “Russia & the Art of Survival” was published in the Sept/Oct 2018 issue of the Gay & Lesbian Review.
Look at the Harlequins!, a new six-song EP, was released on January 11, 2019. In June 2019, they went on a mini-tour in support of the EP, with shows in the UK, Russia, and New York.
Stephan lives in Portland, Oregon with their partner and two parrots. Stephan is currently working on their second full-length album, Sparkbird, and a young adult novel set at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon.