Americana darling Stefanie Joyce’s much anticipated debut EP 'Marlboro Reds and Motel Rooms' was just released in August. "Marlboro Reds & Motel Rooms'' is a collection of songs that tell five stories of sin, redemption, and everything in between, snapshots of small town life. Produced by Kyle Manner at Station West Studios in Nashville, dripping with steel and fiddle, the EP showcases Joyce's vintage, honest, gritty sound, with plenty of stripped back moments to let her lyrics shine through.
The lead single, “Idle Hands” has already amassed over a half-million views on TikTok. While Joyce counts red dirt music and Bluegrass as major influences, her years spent penning songs for other artists on Music Row give a distinctly Nashvillian clarity to her writing. Don't expect the album to be a folksy take on feel-good commercial radio music. The subject
matter in her songs is dark, her characters are fallen, desperate, and consumed with vice. While some find elusive moments of redemption, most do not.According to Stephanie, "For me, the best songs are those that tackle complex stories and dig into the grit of life. My Music Row training has really made me appreciate songs with a clear intent, I want a song to be about one single thing and I want every line to write towards that. I want a song to be a cohesive, encapsulated world. But I don’t like cliche topics or sanitized takes on life, which is what dominates mainstream Country music. The best songs for me strike a balance between cohesive Nashville style writing and the language, subject matter, and acoustic grit of Americana."
Stephanie has many influences including, Turnpike Troubadours, Gillian Welch, John Prine, Brandy Clark for lyrics, Emmylou Harris and early Sturgill Simpson for vibe. Joyce also studies a lot of Bluegrass and old
time tunes and finds her roots in Folk and Bluegrass music. She loves how so many old folk songs look unflinchingly at the darker parts of life with stories of murder, heartbreak, drinking, cheating, all told with such honesty, also the acoustic, fiddle-driven nature of Bluegrass and Folk are a huge influence.
Joyce remarked that, "My biggest influence however is probably the fact that I’ve spent the last 4 years as a working songwriter on music row. Nashville has a wonderful approach to the craft of songwriting. I’ve learned how to write in a way that is tight and cohesive. There is such an emphasis on storytelling, hook driven songs where every line counts. I love the technical craftsmanship of Nashville-style writing but I was getting burnt out by the subject matter of radio friendly songs. I like to think that this EP is a melding of Nashville craftsmanship and rootsier subject matter and production. I also love the sound of Sturgill Simpson, Turnpike Troubadours, and Tyler Childers, and I think that comes through on the record. "
Stephanie Joyce's dad “lent” her his Martin D-35 when she moved to Nashville and she admits that she still haven’t given it back! She has written almost all of her songs on it. Her love of southern gothic literature (Flannery O’Connor, Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Eudora Welty) is what led her to Tennessee. Music came after. Joyce studied creative writing in college and spent an undergraduate semester at the Iowa Writers Workshop thinking she was going to write short stories for the rest of her life. She however found something very lonely about spending her twenties alone in a room, talking to imaginary people. While she has a very quiet, introverted side she also love collaboration. Songwriting and cowriting was a way for Joyce to write in a way that felt more public and performative.
Still reading and studying literature constantly, Stephanie wants to bring the same focus of language that you see in great literature to songwriting. Joyce's goal, "For me songwriting is a literary art first and foremost, and I want songs to tell stories that point to universal truths. I don’t want to create entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with music as entertainment- most people just want to listen to something that helps them have a good time! But I know that I am strongest when I approach songwriting from a literary level. Evan Felkner of Turnpike Troubadours is a HUGE influence in this regard. His songs are as good as any short story."
The name for her debut EP, ‘Marlboro Reds and Motel Rooms’ was the working title for the song “Tulsa.” It is a line in the first verse and it just seemed to Stephanie to sum up the project so well. Joyce explained the goal of her EP as, "I want them to be able to feel their feelings! I think every song deals with a character that is stuck in some way. If you are someone struggling, these songs might not fix your problem but I hope they make you feel seen, understood, less alone.
Stefanie grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has loved storytelling for as long as she can remember. As a teenager, she told those stories through dance, training with Canada’s prestigious Alberta Ballet. As a young adult, she told those stories through film and literature, earning a degree in Film Production & Creative Writing at The University of British Columbia. She also spent an undergraduate semester cutting her teeth on short stories at the Iowa Writers Workshop. It wasn’t until she finished college that her love of southern literature led her to Tennessee and she began writing songs.
Since moving to Nashville in 2017, Stefanie has garnered several cuts as a songwriter with artists such as Mary-Heather Hickman, Gabe Lee, Zoe Cummins, and Ryan Lindsay. She has become a regular feature at Nashville’s premiere writer rounds, and has had the opportunity to play at major Country music festivals such as the Lynchburg Music Festival. In 2020, her songs caught the attention of renowned publisher Woody Bomar (formerly of Sony/ATV) at Green Hills Music. Since then, she has been working with Bomar to further develop and market her song catalog.
In 2021, her charting single “Treasure” (co written and performed by Mary-Heather Hickman) debuted on Country radio and was featured on The Bobby Bones Show and iHeart Radio’s Next Women of Country.
Steeped in the tradition of Country and Folk music, with a distinctly contemporary, cinematic edge, Stefanie Joyce’s songs tell stories in images as much as sounds, weaving tightly crafted tales of sin, redemption, and everything in between.
'Marlboro Reds & Motel Rooms" is s sonic masterpiece filled with authenticity all wrapped up in a Country/Folk bow, the experience of a full listen to this project is one that cannot be replicated. One minute you’re headbanging, and the next you’re looking out the window in deep thought. This is surely only the beginning for Stephanie Joyce as a tremendously talented singer/songwriter artist.