LA-based, indie-pop singer-songwriter Maeve Steele releases her brand new single “Strangers in the Garden,” a track likening a failing relationship to a withering garden.
Set against a dreamy piano-driven melody, Steele poignantly captures the barren feeling of loneliness and being lost. There’s a beguiling quality to her voice, at once dreamy, intimate, and delicate. Vaguely reminiscent of Beth Orton melded with Jewel, it’s one of those oh-so-alluringly distinctive voices that spellbind.
Steele’s music, merges elements of folk, country, and indie rock, forging a sound she self-describes as “Americana-noir.”
After beginning as a session songwriter in Nashville while attending Vanderbilt University in 2020, Steele relocated to Los Angeles where she released her popular single “Shimmer.” She has worked with top veteran producers/engineers, including Brian Malouf. For the new music she is releasing, she collaborated with Daniel Loumpouridis.
Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Maeve Steele to find out why she makes music, her influences, and her definition of tone.
What three things can’t you live without?
The notes app, Saie bronzer, and Yellowbird hot sauce.
Why do you make music?
Songwriting has always been a means for me to understand how I’m feeling. So much of life is trying to figure out who we are and why we feel the things we do. I guess making music has always been the most effective way for me to do that.
What inspired your new single, “Strangers in the Garden?”
I read Maggie Nelson’s book ‘Bluets,’ which is filled with poetry and prose basically revolving around the color blue. I was really bored and a bit uninspired, so I started writing little poems and fragments of songs that I was calling my own bluets. This was the first one.
How did you get started in music?
I grew up in a really musical household and started violin in kindergarten. Having that strong foundation of classical music made picking up the guitar and writing simple songs seem really appealing. It was always something I did in the comfort of my own room, and then when I went to college in Nashville, I started to really pursue it as a career.
Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?
Lana Del Rey is a huge influence of mine. I’ve always loved how she exists in these huge sonic landscapes but keeps you hanging on every word. Her lyrics are so poignant and weird and perfect. ‘Ultraviolence’ and ‘Norman F****** Rockwell’ both came out during really formative times of my life, I feel like I’ve gotten to watch Lana grow as an artist as I’ve grown as a person.
What kind of guitar do you play?
A Martin acoustic!
What is your definition of tone? And is your tone evolving?
I guess tone is the color of sound. I definitely think my tone is changing. There’s maybe a range that I naturally sit in, based on what my voice sounds like and the types of music I’m drawn to, but the shade of it constantly changes and hopefully grows.
How do you keep your sound consistent on stage?
You have to really trust the people who are on stage with you. A great bass player is a game-changer.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?
I’m often inspired by whatever I’m reading or watching. A lot of the time, I need other people’s stories to remind me of my own. Art is so important in making more art.
What can you share about your writing process?
My process involves a lot of notes app editing. Underneath the song are usually a few failed versions, lines that didn’t make the cut, and random words that felt relevant. It’s a messy process.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
Caroline Polachek is making such interesting pop music. I’ve been listening to her a lot, as well as Arlo Parks, who stays killing it.
How do you define success?
This is something I’ve been working on. It’s so easy to get discouraged (or encouraged) by numbers and streams and stats. I’m trying to define success, for myself, as making things that I love and am really proud of.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs? New material?
Lots of new music!