Beer, a distracted crowd, and grimy greenrooms are what come to mind of the venues an emerging New York City artist circulates. So how does Stevie Weinstein-Foner, the leader and self-described sober mystic of the rock ‘n’ roll collective SWF cleanse the energy of such a setting to prepare for a show?
“I fucking sage the stage man, if they’ll let me,” says Stevie from his Brooklyn bedroom, adorned with crow feathers, crystals, and of course, a vision board. “And before we go on, depending on who I am with, we’ll express some gratitude for everyone being there, taking this time to play this music together, say what my intention for the show is, really express love and show love to everyone who is in this space and really fill it with love and energy or whatever my intention is.”
It is said you receive the energy you send out to the world. As I arrived (slightly late, I recently moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and am like a lost little duckling, still learning my way around) I entered Stevie’s room to find him with MIMP founder and photographer Michael Edwards, holding some uniquely scented burnt wood, of which he gave both Michael and me a piece. The wood was Palo Santo, said to contain the same cleansing qualities of sage. My aura upon arrival was that of a scattered girl struggling to set in to her new life and apartment. I hadn’t known what to expect going into this interview, it turned out Stevie’s wisdom and a gift of Palo Santo was just what I needed. “Just use it in your apartment tonight, as soon as you get home,” Stevie advised me.
Stevie’s spiritual evolution is crucial to comprehending his music. His debut album, Let It Be Told, released recently on Mecca Lecca Recording Co., is a cohesive meditative and powerful rock album, the love child of his journey. “I was able to go into the studio and make it happen, actually going for it, because I have clarity around wanting to do it, which I didn’t have when I was a total fucking mess. Like at one point I was stoned all the time, and didn’t know what I wanted, just emotionally disturbed.”
Through time spent in Central American farms, practicing yoga, Brooklyn’s spiritual communities, and with those closest to him, such as his fellow yogi muse girlfriend, and meditation teachers, Stevie was able to set aside his demons and begin turning his vision board into a reality.
“I’m not a mess anymore, but I was for most of my life. I think most of the time we take ourselves and our thoughts very seriously. It’s about self-realization. Most people seem to have all these insecurities or feelings that they aren’t enough, especially me, which is something I talk about on the songs. But it took quite an effort of me being like: This is what I want to do and I am going to do it. It’s not about me being not good enough. It’s about just checking all that bullshit and saying, ‘Well, is this is what I have to give the world? Yes, OK, let’s give it to the world.’ ”
I ask Stevie about his demons, the insecurities, what has held him back. “I went through a period of not being able to express anger, so I would repress it. I would stifle it and do weird shit. Whenever you repress something it is going to come out some other way,” he tells me. Now, through embracing negative emotions he is able to transform them into laughter or art.
“Now what do I do with it? I don’t know; break shit. The last time I actually broke shit, my girlfriend and I, who we are still together, and very much in love, but we were living together and I had to move out, and I was pissed off about it. One day she broke a plate, the next day I broke a plate, and the next thing I had this guitar that I just smashed on the fucking floor. As I was doing it I was so pissed, and I was looking at her like I am so pissed off right now, smiling and laughing, and she was laughing too. We were like breaking up and breaking things. It’s cool though, it is awesome to be in a relationship where we are really dramatic about it and recognizing it, you release, it is cathartic let’s let it out.”
Beyond smashing plates with his beautiful tattooed yogi girlfriend, Stevie, who comes off as incredibly gentle in person, is able to release some darker, more powerful energy through his music. While Let It Be Told plays cohesively and is quite malleable to your mood; it’s great for a yoga class, sex, or rocking out in one of those smelly Lower East Side bars, the single “Warrior” stands out as a force of nature. “I wrote ‘Warrior’ two years ago when I was just back in New York City and being clear about what I am doing and what I was going for, knowing I wasn’t going to live this other way. I am a spiritual warrior I am on a path. I am clear about it and I’m not fucking around,” says Stevie.
Sitting on his bed, after casually speaking his thoughts on the importance (or lack of importance) of shoes, shortly after providing a lovely meditation break with a display of his skills on the harmonium, we requested that Stevie play us something off his debut album. He grabbed a guitar; let his hair fly, and the energy in the room shifted tremendously, from mellow and serene to a soul-bearing intensity.
Until you get a personal invite to Stevie’s bedroom, catch him performing “Warrior” and other tracks from the recordings of his personal journey Let It Be Told November 13th at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn.
“It’s a healthy balance of giving a shit about something enough to put all your energy into it, because here we are, alive in these bodies, one time, one shot, that is all we’ve got, this lifetime. Here we are. So you want to put your energy into something you really give a shit about.” says Stevie.