For many, music sets the mood for one’s leisure time. Whether you’re into something soft and soothing or upbeat and pulsating, there’s never enough music to satisfy one’s craving. For our first music interview we wanted to talk to someone a bit under the radar but totally unique and memorable. Let us introduce you to STASH, a DJ duo consisting of Steph and Amanda. This EDM/pop group are local celebrities in Los Angeles but after this interview and a spin of their music we can see them as breakout stars. Check out the interview below where we talk about their new EP Strip Me Bare, their guilty pleasures and the city they call home.
Cigars & Leisure: Let’s start off with some ice breakers to make sure you two are ready for us. You’re preparing for a night out in the city. What songs would each of you choose to play to get you pumped up and ready to have fun?
Steph: You can never go wrong with some old school Snoop Dogg, Eminem, or Ying Yang Twins.
Amanda: Easy! Red Cup Pinky Up. Duh!
I’m sure both of you have endured your share of bad pick up lines and come ons from men while out performing and on the club scene. Can each of you tell us about a time a guy’s tried to hit on you that’s ended in an epic fail?
Steph: I think when guys try to hit on me and try to impress me with music knowledge then when they figure out that I’m the DJ, they are put in their place real fast.
Amanda: There are too many bad lines to count, but one in particular I do remember: When out at a club when I first moved to L.A., I was waiting to buy a drink and they guy next to me asked “What are you drinking?” I thought he was being polite and I said, “I’m not sure yet…still deciding…you?” To which he replied, “right now-vodka tonic, but my drink of choice would be your bath water.” I was embarrassed for him and grossed out at the same time.
What drives you crazy about the music industry today? If you each could change one thing about it in hopes of making it better, what would it be and why do you think that change is necessary?
Steph: I would make it so that it didn’t revolve so much around record labels and be easier for independent artists to be seen.
Amanda: I think the most obvious and troubling problem is the piracy, but there’s not much we can do about that. The way to make money in music these days is in touring and performing. So Steph and I work very hard to make sure that not only is our music good, but we can perform and give our fans a show worth paying good money for.
I know you’re all about making your own music but if STASH were to cover one song and completely remix it and make it your own, what song would you two choose to give the STASH treatment?
Steph: I would redo “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga
Amanda: I’m not sure about Steph, but I would love to remix some old Motown music and give it the STASH treatment! Maybe some Four Tops like “It’s the Same Old Song.”
Picture this: you get the chance to collaborate with any music artist–past or present, active or retired, living or dead–who’d you bring in as a feature on a track?
Steph: Calvin Harris!
Amanda: Andre 3000
You two have a new EP out titled “Strip Me Bare.” Your overall sound is very fun, pop but also every song has an upbeat, free-will, party-vibe. You aren’t singing sad songs about broken hearts or singing about shaking off haters like Taylor Swift. Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Steph: My inspiration is my life! Going out falling in love with people… some of them suck, some of them are awesome. I like writing songs about experiences. I try to keep my life pretty easygoing and fun, so I think that’s why the songs are written in that tone.
Amanda: We both love music and making people happy. We aren’t about wallowing in misery and feeling sorry for yourself. She and I both have persevering spirits. Our tenacity is what’s gotten us to this point in our careers. If something sets you back a few paces, you pull yourself up by your boot straps and keep going. This is a fast moving town and industry and no one has the time or interest in hearing a sad story.
Steph, you started out DJing for private parties, film premieres and big events. What made you want to go from being a successful solo act to part of a duo group?
Steph: I wanted to be more than just a DJ. I thought teaming up and being a duo would have way more potential in the long term. Two heads are better than one!
And now Amanda, you’re a classically trained pop singer. What was the appeal of teaming up with Steph to form STASH? If you were solo would your music be much different from what we’re listening to on STASH’s new EP?
Amanda: Even through my years of classical training, my music library was filled with Top 40 pop music. In the practice rooms at my University, I was practicing Wagner, Gounod and Donizetti. In my car I was belting Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Pussycat Dolls. I, like Steph, love music that makes people dance and feel good. That’s why she and I are a great match and love making music together. I don’t think my music would be much different if I went solo.
When we listened to your EP I noticed there’s this theme of perseverance and “never give up” in tracks like “Hysterical,” “Tear Me Down” and “Strip Me Bare.” This sounds like a bit of a personal theme. Was weaving this theme throughout your music intentional or just happened by chance?
Amanda: I don’t think anything happens by chance. We write and perform the way we’re feeling and that persevering spirit is just who we are.
Steph: When I was writing the EP I had a lot of people in my life discouraging me and telling me “I couldn’t do it”. All the songs of the EP are a direct reflection of what was happening in my life at the time. I don’t think it was intentional, it just kinda happened.
Your EP is out now. What can we expect next from STASH?
Amanda: Touring and a sophomore album!
Here at Cigars & Leisure we’re all about helping our readers find different ways to relax and have a good time. What do each of you do in your time off to relax and unwind?
Amanda: I love reading. There’s a magazine I love called Mental Floss and I enjoy reading and watching anything about the World Wars. I also love sports, particularly college football. But that doesn’t relax me. It gets me more fired up. But I can’t help watching and cheering on my team!
Steph: I like to binge watch Netflix, or go out on the town for a night with my friends.
With the title of our site it’s no surprise that many of our readers indulge in cigars, which some may consider a guilty pleasure. What’s each of your guilty pleasures?
Steph: Online shopping.
Amanda: There are some pretty outrageous reality shows that I watch. I won’t divulge which ones [smiles]
We’re also into mixology and here. What do each of your consider to be your go-to drinks?
Steph: Vodka Soda!
Amanda: My favorite drink, though it’s difficult to make properly, is a gin fizz.
You’re in L.A. while we’re all the way over here on the east coast. We don’t want the typical L.A. trip from the usual suggestions. What’s one thing each of you would recommend we do or see that only a local would suggest or do?
Steph: I would recommend going to the kibitz room on a Tuesday night, 20 or so studio musicians get together and just play awesome music all night.
Amanda: The California Science Center downtown. It now houses the recently decommissioned space shuttle Endeavor.
You two have to know a lot about the nightlife scene. What’s your favorite club in the area?
Amanda: I’ve always loved Sayers Club for the music. But right now I’m enjoying Warwick and The Argyle.
Steph: I would pick clubs in Vegas any day of the week, however in L.A. I like Bagatelle and Lure.