Saturday, April 13

Head in the Clouds 2023 Q&A: Artist Stephanie Poetri discusses career evolution

Wearing a leather jacket and holding an electric guitar, Stephanie Poetri grips a microphone stand. The Indonesian singer-songwriter performed at Head in the Clouds on Saturday. (Megan Cai/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Stephanie Poetri’s next moves are written in the rock stars.

The Indonesian singer-songwriter made her third appearance on the Head in the Clouds stage in Pasadena on Saturday afternoon. Poetri’s performance follows the the end of her tour supporting Lyn Lapid, and the release of her indie-grunge singles “Astrologically Illogical” and “Invited.”

Ahead of her festival performance, Poetri spoke with the Daily Bruin’s Dannela Lagrimas about her musical influences, her thoughts on live performances and her career evolution.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

[Related: Head in the Clouds 2023 Q&A: Artist Lyn Lapid talks upcoming debut at Head in the Clouds music festival]

Daily Bruin: You’re returning to the Head in the Clouds LA stage for the fourth time since signing with 88rising. How do you currently approach performing compared to your 19-year-old self?

Stephanie Poetri: So different. I used to think of performing as just doing your own songs. But now, I put my whole butt into it. I was so try-hard this time. I got a guitarist that shreds; I stole Lyn’s drummer. We’re doing more of our rock vibe, so we revamped a lot of my old songs that are more chill into a rockier style.

DB: How would you describe your songwriting process, and what’s the strangest thing you’ve taken inspiration from?

SP: The strangest thing is I love to freestyle. It makes no sense to be honest, but I love having a beat and doing whatever and then make everybody else in the room do what they like.

The weirdest thing that’s inspired me is probably internet memes – not necessarily what the writing on the meme is, but the pictures.

Poetri stands strumming her electric guitar in front of blue and white onscreen visuals. Poetri said her music has taken on more of a rock characteristic as she's grown. (Megan Cai/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Poetri stands strumming her electric guitar in front of blue and white onscreen visuals. Poetri said her music has taken on more of a rock characteristic as she’s grown. (Megan Cai/Daily Bruin senior staff)

DB: As you mentioned, your music had a more bedroom pop, chill vibe beforehand, while your recent singles have a grungier, rock quality. Was it a conscious decision to become more rock-oriented?

SP: Very conscious. I think it’s also because I’ve become more mature as a woman. I think I’m over the more PG-13, chill vibe, and I wanted to do something a bit more angsty.

DB: Did you have any specific influences when it came to developing your angstier style?

SP: I listened to a lot of Arctic Monkeys and Of Monsters and Men growing up, so we’re taking inspiration (from) that but still making it feminine and pretty, because a lot of the time this music is very masculine.

[Related: Second Take: Demand for constant reinvention from female artists creates double standard]

DB: Especially with young female artists, there seems to be a lot of pressure in the industry to keep your music changing for fear of not being “fresh.” Are you aware of that unspoken pressure when it comes to figuring out what music you want to do next?

SP: I’m more of a “do my own thing” person. Because although yes, women are told to be ever-changing, at the same time, I think when you’re still up-and-coming like I am, it’s actually more important to stick to one sound so that you have a vibe. When you get bigger, that’s when you start changing. Whereas with me, it’s kind of scary to change this early on in my career. But at the same time, I think if I just kept on doing the old stuff, it would get stale.

DB: Head in the Clouds and 88rising are known for their focus on Asian talent. What does it mean to you to be performing frequently at a festival and with a label that centers and uplifts Asian artists like yourself?

SP: It’s really cool. At the end of the day, you just feel the communal vibe. I’m very grateful to be here. And also, it’s not just the artists – there’s a lot more diversity backstage with the crew and the tech people. It’s really nice to see (something) different than what we’re used to.

Email Lagrimas at [email protected] or tweet @dannelawrites.

Lifestyle editor

Lagrimas is the 2022-2023 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2021-2022. She is also a second-year communication and political science student from Temecula, California.

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