Stephanie Deskins is an up-and-coming country music singer-songwriter dividing her time between Logan and Belle. In the never-ending quest to bring new and diverse local musical voices to Radio Free Charleston, I found Stephanie through MySpace, and she appears on episode number 27 of RFC, which you can watch right here. Though she’s just at the beginning of her career, Stephanie has already picked up sponsors such as Timberline Guitars, Knucklehead Guitar Strings, and Morgan’s Leather Den.
You can hear samples of Stephanie’s songcraft at her MySpace page, and I’ll be bringing you updates of her upcoming shows here in PopCult. A local rock band will be covering one of her tunes for a future episode of RFC, too. Her work is really impressive, and I have a feeling she’ll become a major force in the Charleston music scene, and possibly beyond. We spoke with Stephanie about her music and her career.
PopCult: Where are you from?
Stephanie Deskins: I grew up in Logan so it’s my hometown but now I primarily live in Belle and hang out with my aunt Dottie, she’s not your typical aunt in the very least. Very cool. I come back to Logan quite often to see my family, especially my mom and dad; Sharon and Ron. They’re all very supportive of my music and that’s a major force in what keeps me going.
PC: What are your major musical influences?
SD: I grew up loving Reba. The country genre is where my roots are and what I’ve always loved. As I got older my influences changed and so did my own music based on that. The older I got the more I started to like Garth Brooks and Terri Clark. Then from there I started listening to other genres and started paying attention to artists like Guns’N’Roses, Aerosmith, Nickelback, Godsmack, etc. Now I listen and play pretty much anything but I stick with country because it’s where my heart is.
PC: How long have you been writing songs?
SD: Since I was about 8. I started everything about the same time. About then was when I started watching the artists on the old TNN network and figured they sing and play guitar, where do the songs come from? I didn’t have a concept of songwriters. I figured the artists did everything themselves so that’s the route I went, doing everything myself. Back in those days the writers actually ran Nashville until the artists started writing for themselves. Now a songwriter that actually lives off of their writing is very rare. You have to have the whole package these days.
PC: I notice you write a mix of story songs and statement songs. Is one type easier to write than the other?
SD: Good job noticing. Most people don’t. I don’t think there’s any particular kind of song that’s easier to write. I just write what comes from my heart then I put my mind into it to get the structure and everything right and get the finish product. I can say that I don’t usually write about personal situations because I’m a very private person. I wrote “When You Come Around” never intending for it to be released to the public but the response was so great that I didn’t really have a choice. I’m happy about it though; the song has done wonders for my career. Most people listen to the song and think it’s “love gone wrong” and it could be. But that’s not what I had in mind when I wrote it. I wrote that song as a Christmas gift for a relative whose husband passed away and that’s what I meant the song to be about. But it’s open for interpretation. I’ve always loved songs that could take on more than one meaning.
PC: Do you prefer to write for female or male vocalists, or is that not something you think about during the songwriting process?
SD: I do think about it but it’s not something I think about during the actual process. The music industry has made great strides for female artists but it’s still a man’s world. I have to consider that when I write there’s a better chance that a male will pick the song up as compared to a female. I definitely think about it during production of the music but it rarely crosses my mind in the writing process. When I write, I just write what comes from the heart. But when it’s production time, that means it’s time to really start thinking about the future of the song. During the writing process it’s still very early and the song could very well be trashed just as easily as it could be a hit. The production is what can make or break a song. But when I am in the writing process I try not to write something that’s gender bias so anyone can sing it.
PC: Do you write by yourself, or have you collaborated with others?
SD: I usually write by myself but once in a while I’ll collaborate with someone. My cousin, Melissa Deskins co-wrote “The Fall” with me. I had started on it and had been at a dead end for a couple of days and she came in and whipped it right into shape and got it back on track again. That song probably wouldn’t have been written if she hadn’t came in to work on it. I’m glad she did; it’s one of my favorite songs that I’ve had a hand in.
PC: Have you always been drawn to country music, or are there other styles you’d like to try?
SD: I try to stay with country because it’s what I grew up on and what I know the best but as I got older I started to listen to other genres. I love to test my limits and boundaries so other genres do appeal to me but I’ll always stay in country for the most part.
PC: Who are some of the musicians that you’ve worked with?
SD: Mostly I work with Jason Roller, he plays guitar for BNA artist Sarah Johns right now. He used to work for Tracy Lawrence and Kellie Pickler among others. I’ve worked with Jeff Carson (CURB Records), Weston Hays (Big & Rich backup vocalist), Andy Dwiggins from the band Greenwheel; they were nominated writers for a grammy when Melissa Etheridge picked up their tune “Breathe” for her “Lucky” album, Rich McCready (Magnatone Records), LoCash Cowboys (they were on Tanya Tuckers show “Tuckerville” and just got signed to Monument Records), Tony Conway at Buddy Lee Attractions. The list goes on. I actually usually have to refer to my agent to get a full list because I always forget someone. I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone here.
PC: Tell me about your sponsors.
SD: Morgan’s Leather Den in Ohio is run by Ron Morgan. He’s a super guy with a lot of talent for working with leather products. He made a very cool custom guitar strap for me after hearing a few of my tunes. Knucklehead Guitar Strings in Utah make strings that have a great tone. They’re comparable to D’Addario. Timberline Guitars in San Diego, California make solid wood guitars. They have such a great pitch and tone. It’s the best guitar I’ve ever played and it looks as good as it plays. Those guys really worked with me and went the extra mile.
PC: We’re going to have you on the next episode of Radio Free Charleston. I understand you’ve also been picked up by Kick Radio and CountryMusic24on the internet. How did Kick Radio and CountryMusic24 get in touch with you, and what songs are they playing?
SD: As an independent artist you have to take it upon yourself to take initiative and get things done. I actually contacted them on behalf of my sponsors and the next thing I know they’re playing my tunes. Right now they’re spinning “The Fall” and “When You Come Around”. We’ll probably be sending them more at a later date once we see how well these do. KICK has actually booked me for an interview with their station. I was honored as being only the second artist on their station to have two songs spinning at the same time.
PC: Where do you see your music taking you in the future?
SD: I’m not sure where the music will take me but I’m sure I’ll follow it wherever it goes.
Stephanie Deskins will appear on episode twenty-seven of Radio Free Charleston later this week here at thegazz.com. A profile of Stephanie will run this week in The Gazz, available this Thursday. You can listen to Kick Radio here, and CountryMusic24 here.