Hi my name is Stella Angelika, I’m north London born and bred and I like to joke that most of my music is about how difficult I find being a human being. My latest EP That Girl I Hate is no exception.
My journey to get to this point and this EP has been pretty winding and at times pretty difficult, but it’s all part of who I am now and so I guess to understand the EP it’s useful to know a bit about that journey.
Born to Greek Cypriot parents and a musical father, I grew up listening to and singing Greek folk songs. My early teens were spent listening to the likes of Destiny’s Child, Lauryn Hill and Whitney Houston and the language and phrasing of those artists began to work their way into my own singing and writing.
I would come home from school, sit at my computer for hours writing endless songs and singing. I was also part of a local gospel choir at the time which I loved so much. It gave me a space to sing my little heart out to larger audiences and develop as a performer. While I’m not religious, there is something about gospel music that really gets me going and it definitely plays a part in my sound to this day.
I then by chance came across a singing teacher who introduced me to classical music and opera, encouraging me to explore it. I had never really been exposed to this kind of music but it immediately captured me and before long I was auditioning to train as an opera singer.
I was given a place to study at the Royal Northern College of Music and I was totally in love with it. I felt a particular affinity to the romantic composers like Verdi and Puccini, perhaps because they felt in some way connected to the mediterranean in me, Verdi’s music especially has a somewhat Italian folk feel to it I think.
There is also something about the level of emotion and evocation in this music that speaks to me and that allowed me to express myself at such a deep level. I’m a pretty passionate, sensitive person and I feel things deeply, so this music was the perfect vessel for all of that feeling and I just loved it so much.
Unfortunately however within my first year, I began what would be an annoyingly long battle with my mental health and by the time it got to my second year I was advised to take some time out to recover.
I did not recover quickly and actually the next few years saw me get worst before I started getting better, so I never returned to finish my training but I did start writing my own music again.
Now driven by a will to talk about my experiences with mental health, both for me and in the hope of spreading awareness and helping others. To this day it is still one of the biggest motivators for me with my music.
Around that time I also got introduced to jazz, learning from and performing with some amazing UK jazz musicians. And while you can’t necessarily hear the jazz or opera or any of my other musical pit stops overtly, they all have a place in my music.
So that’s the journey to where I am now.
That Girl I Hate is a collection of songs that centres around relationship. It’s about my relationship with others but also my relationship with myself.
The title track “Loving That Girl I Hate” – the oldest song on the EP, is both an apology & thank you to the guy that loved me even when I was difficult to love. To me, this song feels like the core of the EP because it’s that underlying feeling of being unlovable that so often gets in the way of connection and relationship.
Which is where “Endlessly” comes in. “Endlessly” is the newest song on the EP and to me sort of marks a shift or at least a conscious effort to really work on how I feel about myself. With these two tracks book ending the EP, it feels like a bit of a journey for me.
From where I was years ago when I wrote “Loving That Girl I Hate”, to where I am now, having spent years working on my mental health, learning about my shit and trying to be nicer to myself on a daily basis.
The creative process for the EP was pretty intimate, aside from recording some of the live elements where we got different people in, it was mainly just my guitarist and co-writer and I working away in my little studio set up at home.
Two of the songs I had written years ago and so I felt pretty clear on what I wanted to do with them, one of them was a fairly recent creation and the 4th track we wrote in the first week of working on the EP.
As is always the case with anything I create, it took longer than I had anticipated and wanted. Although it came together more easily than anything I have worked on previously, I still experience so much doubt and so there were several sessions where I was just going round in circles, driving myself crazy.
I find it really hard to judge whether I am being a perfectionist bitch to myself, or whether I’m right in thinking that something’s not quite there.
In fact I remember, “Meet Me Where I Am” was almost fully produced and I just was not feeling it, there was something about it that just felt forced or stilted or something and on this occasion I trusted my instincts and we scraped it and started from scratch.
I’m sure there are some artists out there who don’t experience so much doubt but I’m also sure there are plenty that do, so if you’re one of the latter and you happen to be reading this, know that you’re not the only one. Then maybe give “Endlessly” a spin for a dose of self compassion to counteract that doubt and harshness.
Listen to my EP That Girl I Hate below and stream it everywhere else here.