Folk Is People is singer/songwriter Stacey Bennett’s full-time gig, and she’s killing it. On her new album, The Devil Always Comes, there’s a raw clarity in her voice, with a bit of a yodel here and a growl there, that carries over some pristine indie folk pop. It’s loud, jangly, hopeful music, even when it’s sad and angry. The album came out just YESTERDAY, and Bennett was kind enough to talk to me about writing these beautiful songs, the very real challenges of living in the South, and reading Ronda Rousey.
Where are you from? Where are you now?
I am originally from the Northern Virginia/DC area. I have lived in Jacksonville, Florida, for almost eleven years.
Tell me about the music you make.
I describe my music as sounding like indie rock married a folk song and started a pop punk band. Each song is different from the other so it is hard to nail down a specific genre. They all begin as folk songs and then my love for loud guitars takes over. This new release, The Devil Always Comes, is a very conceptual piece and very personal to me. It depicts the inner dissonance created when we reflect on the bad parts of ourselves while attempting to reconcile past deeds with the present pursuit of virtue.
Does living in the South impact your music?
Absolutely. Most of what I write is autobiographical and I would say much of this album is a response to certain experiences I’ve had while living and working here. From my perspective, this is not a place that prides itself on cultural competence. One issue that I deal with regularly is homophobia. A few times, people have been blatantly hateful towards me, but it is mostly subtle disrespect. After my wife and I were married, I had a coworker who would only refer to her as my “friend” regardless of how many times I corrected him. We all pick up on cues that are outside of our awareness but somehow manage to surface. Sometimes the only way I can articulate experiences is through writing music, which by the way is not cheaper than therapy.
What are your hopes for your music?
My greatest hope is that I can positively impact people’s lives by creating art that is relatable to others and relevant to the human condition. I write from a place of vulnerability and I hope to encourage folks to be more open and authentic in their lives and interactions with others. Music and art is phenomenal in that it can connect people who wouldn’t typically interact.
Where will you go and what will you do next?
I will be doing a lot of touring to promote the record. My main goal right now is to build up our regional following.
Where are you headed on tour?
Folk is People has a Southeast tour lined up after the holidaze.
Who do you listen to?
I typically listen to an eclectic mix of artists. I am attracted to musicians who have mastered the art of songwriting (at least in my opinion). My current playlist is a mashup of Shovels & Rope, Tegan and Sara, Bright Eyes, Florence and the Machine, and Jason Isbell.
Who inspires you?
People make fun of me for this but I am very intrigued with Ronda Rousey. I read her book, My Fight/Your Fight and was inspired by it. Her story was the final push I needed to quit my job and put myself out there. I have always lived with this fear of failure and rejection, like many other people do, but that fear was preventing me from being happy and doing what I love. I still have those fears but I have come to terms with the fact that failure is a necessary part of success and some people will not like my music. It happens.
Any favorite Southern women?
Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope is one of my favorite southern songwriters. She is so incredibly talented, nice, and funny. I had the pleasure of opening for them a few years back and I was doing my best not to fangirl her.
Any other Southern women or non-binary or trans Southerners making music that we should know about?
In Jacksonville: Robi Rutenburg (Four Families, Insel, The Little Books), Geexella, TOMBOi, and Laura Shannon (Wise River).
The Devil Always Comes can be purchased on iTunes and bandcamp.