Multi-instrumentalist / producer William Steffey continues to offer up something truly postmodern: effortlessly integrating honest rock and pop sensibility with echoes of creative electronica. Atop the music ride engaging and intelligent lyrics, tagging the listener at unexpected depths. Indie-music.com notes that Steffey’s words “depict a sharp wit and wisdom and often engage in meaningful social commentary.”
Accidents and Melodies is William’s 2015 offering, and 11th studio album overall. The 7-song collection is his most personal to date, touching on Steffey’s own journey with bipolar disorder and the magical process of healing and rebirth. Keeping in stride with the subject matter, William has decided to donate half of album / merchandise profits to Thresholds Chicago, a local resource offering housing and a wealth of mental health services to the underprivileged. From the opening jaunt “Ampersands” to the 80’s retro closing track, the album moves easily between synth-pop and soulful rock with occasional nods to industrial.
Apart from two locally sold cassettes (1989’s Up on the Rock, and 1995’s Letters Never Sent,) William had been hiding in the servant’s quarters of the Chicago music mansion for years- playing hired gun to scene stalwarts Marathon Man (on drums), brief but potent cool-rockers Spot and Billy (on guitar), and anonymous production guru to the Blue Meanies (Sick Sick Six live video, as well as key tracks on the albums “Blue Meanies” and “Pave the World”).
In 2001, Steffey finally struck out on an international level with the entirely self-produced cd Roadstar, featuring 11 tracks that brave the no-mans-land between electronica, honest hard rock, and 70s FM songwriting. The cd was added to more than 250 US college stations as well as a handful of cherry-picked commercial specialty shows. Upon its debut, Roadstar hit #3 on the CMJ most added chart. The cd also made its way overseas where it enjoys airplay in the UK, Spain, France, Croatia, Japan, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
In 2005, Steffey released Love Song for Kyrie Snow. With low-key vocals and new millennium soundscapes, the five song collection melds rock, pop and electronica, and features a remix of the title track by Chicago legend Felix Miklik. “Hands down, it’s a break-up album,” William explains. With hyperpersonal lyricism, WS is looking to connect with the rest of the cast-aside and forlorn. “Sometimes it takes more than love to make a relationship work.” The songs Stronger Than Love and Brutal explore these concepts in bold new ways. The EP was played on numerous college radio stations, as well as key international stations listed above.
2007 saw the sprawling full-length Romance of the Spaceways, which spun in commercial rotation on 11 stations in the US and quickly became a favourite of several UK heads of music- resulting in around 15 adds across the pond. WS also continued to be hot in Central America, where the album played on an archipelago of 18 stations across Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The 12 song cd, propelled by its ethereal-pop single ‘Sanctuary’, was serviced to college stations in the United States in the fall of 07.
The following year, William released a ‘best of’ two-cd compilation called Songs for the Sacred Agewhich offered up 37 tracks in total, the majority of which had never before been officially released. The project included one brand new NC-17 rated track “Inside We’re Lovers”.
2009’s Love and Armageddon EP marked release number eight, and also introduced the public to William Steffey live shows for the first time ever. While the cd hovers between the worlds of pop-rock and new wave, the 4 piece live band- whose repertoire spans almost 20 years of Steffey’s material- eliminated the synths and took a more stripped down rock attitude. The next year, Live At Gabe’s album was released which offered up 8 live tracks from the Love and Armageddon shows.
The 2012 Kickstarter-funded Kid Ghosts EP was followed up by several standalone singles, the most notable being “Belfast” which was added to CHIRP radio’s singles mixer. IndependentClauses.com says the single “takes cues from Oasis with dashes of Portishead and Blur, this tune sounds completely British but is totally from Chicago.”
William is currently heading up the band Boolean Knife which have released two EPs and in late 2017 will release the standalone single, Dogstar. The live shows contain both Boolean Knife originals as well as songs plucked from William’s 200+ song solo catalog.
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