Prodigious Wollongong artist, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Stevan today shares his sophomore mixtape, Ontogeny out via Honeymoon / +1 Records (America) & Astral People Recordings (ROW). Pairing the collaborative production of LUCIANBLOMKAMP (6LACK, Mallrat) and creative direction of Michael Dole (Flume, The Avalanches), the release gleamingly reveals Stevan’s maturity as he embraces new depths of introspection amid lyrically divulging darker, intimate moments.
Following the breakout success of his debut Just Kids mixtape, Ontogeny sees Stevan hone a self-assured sound and visual identity. Transferring his love for alt-R&B, the collection opens to the tripping beat and darker synth work of “Impress You”, where Stevan’s rich, velvety vocals speak candidly on the pressures of pleasing others while journeying to find his truest self. “More Than Them” arrives next, as slow kicks and filtered vocals flick between dreamy and wide-awake states, when Stevan adds heartfelt fast-spoken ad-libs. The track is accompanied by a striking visual treatment today, seeing Stevan continue the journey of Ontogeny to find himself, also with a love interest in the story. Following, “Onyx” ups tempo and strips back ornamentation, as Stevan repeats “I wanna be the best in it” in an exposed pop track, before sharp guitar strokes cut through an underwater echo halfway, as he croons with mesmerising finesse.
Laid-back and faded emotion show up on “SIA”, as skipping soft drum machines compliment Stevan’s open, honest and humble vocals, before a juxtaposition of “OVA” arrives. With seeming simplicity as a bare, drums-free love song, the track soon thwarts reverberating bass kicks that punctuate ever-impressive melodies. The filtered high-pitched vocal musings of “Picture” add to an R&B-like track of cool insularity, ornamented with Stevan’s reflective thoughts that are sometimes spoken and other times sung earnestly. Closing track “Car” doubles quavering vocals over crunching drums, as Stevan’s gaze-like musings and emotive pleas become a serene balm for the senses.
On the mixtape, Stevan says: “If Just Kids was my journey from a child to a teenager, Ontogeny is a transition from a teenager into a young adult. I think the project highlights many of my fears and imperfections and each song builds on my character, showing growth and development not only sonically but personally too.”
With two mixtapes to be celebrated from 2020, Stevan will be returning to the stage for two intimate live performances across a 6:30pm and 9:30pm session on Thursday, November 26 at Mary’s Underground in Sydney. Rounding out his biggest year yet, Stevan will then treat his hometown fanbase to a one-night only show at University of Wollongong’s Bandroom on Saturday, December 12. After releasing his debut mixtape in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions, Stevan will be performing new music from both Just Kids and Ontogeny for the first timewith his full live band, plus promising extra surprises along the way.
A profound producer, multi-instrumentalist and artist foremost, Stevan found instant success in debut single “Timee”, which garnered wide support from Spotify and Apple Music flagship playlists, plus earned him the titles of FBi Radio’s Independent Artist of the Week, triple j Unearthed Feature Artist and MTV’s Upload of the Week. Since, a collection of warm, cinematic singles laid the path to his first mixtape, Just Kids, cementing his spot among leading innovators in Australian music and as a globally-recognised breakthrough act. Now sitting on over 6 million streams, Just Kids has seen praise from NME Australia, Clash, The Independent (UK) and BBC Radio 1, plus was named FBi Radio’s Album of the Week and took out the #1 spot in the EP Top 5 on BBC 1xtra with Jamz Supernova.
Bearing his genuine and enigmatic live presence, Stevan continues to impress crowds whether it be at BIGSOUND 2019 with his handful of early releases or at festivals Sound On, Panama and Fairgrounds. Stevan debuted as a supporting act along tours with Winston Surfshirt and Omar Apollo, and has most recently performed as part of virtual festivals Isol-Aid and Ticketmaster’s Together Fest. Stevan’s greatest achievement to date is still to come, as a debut Splendour in the Grass set remains on the horizon in 2021.
Considered and eloquent, Ontogeny is a career-defining collection posturing transparent songwriting, hybrid production modes and flawless alt-R&B melodies. Stevan comfortably finds his artistic lane and speeds onwards, inviting you to join him for the journey as he shifts gears between dream-like epiphanies and darker, atmospheric introspections.