Stacy Barthe has long been praised for her songwriting skills, penning songs for some of the biggest artists in the industry, from pop artists Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and Rihanna to R&B/soul sensations Brandy, Kelly Rowland, and Melanie Fiona. Her writing is wide ranging, smart, and relatable, and has even earned her a Grammy nomination. A known songwriter, Barthe is on the road to becoming just as known for her vocal talent.
When it comes to writing, Barthe is a veteran, but as a singer, she only began to become serious about that craft about three years ago. Once she found her voice, her passion to create music not only through her writing but also recording, never left the Long Island-native. In 2010, the singer-songwriter put out her first, very personal EP, Sincerely Yours, Stacy Barthe, receiving praise from music industry heavyweights like Diddy.
Since then, she went on to record three more EPs, a Christmas project, Stacy Barthe Presents The Seven Days of Christmas, In The Inbetween, and her most recent work P.S. I Love You. The eight-track EP only features rapper Rick Ross, the rest displays the striking and soothing vocals and impressive writing of the Grammy-nominated singer.
Barthe talks to Singersroom about her newest EP, songwriting, musical inspirations, Sade comparisons, her singing ‘Nouveau Noir’ clique with Elle Varner, Miguel, and Luke James, and a lot more.
Difference in writing for other artists and herself: It hasn’t really been that much of a transition because all along I fell like I’ve been writing my own songs anyway, but every time I’ve worked with an artist, like when I was working with Alicia Keys for her album, it’s easy to write for others because it’s kind of morphing whatever they’re trying to achieve on the album. For myself, it’s always writing from my perspective. It’s not difficult to go in for somebody and then go in for myself because it’s completely two different things.
Songwriting Inspirations growing up: Dianne Warren, Babyface, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, that’s just to name a few. I’m a culmination of a lot of things that I love – from art to literature to everything – so I was inspired by a lot of people but those are some of the people I can name off the top of my head.
Singer Inspirations growin up: Lauryn Hill, Sade, Bob Marley, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, I mean there are just so many but that’s just to name a few.
Her songwriting process: It depends on who I’m working with. Like sometimes I’ll hear a track that really inspires me and I’ll get working on that but a lot of times it’s from scratch. I’ll start from a guitar melody or the piano, especially on working on the newer stuff I’ve been really involved on the production process as well so generally I like to start from scratch, but if there’s something already done that inspires me I’ll work from that. Sometimes I’ll have an idea and I’ll come up with something at home and record it on like my phone or something and then bring it to the producer like ‘this is what I had in mind.’ Then building from there, so it just depends on what the situation is.
On her debut Motown EP, P.S. I Love You: Well this is my third EP, I first started with as you know, Sincerely Yours, Stacy Barthe, then In The Inbetween, now P.S. I Love You, which has been my brainchild since I created Sincerely Yours. It’s always been in mind that there was going to be a P.S. I Love You but now that Motown is involved they’re getting behind it and helping it to gain maximum exposure. It’s not different than before, same process, like putting songs together, telling stories, and you know, hopefully everybody loves it.
Title inspiration and gaining confidence: Just going through my transition, it’s not just p.s. I love you, p.s. I love me, and this is the piece that if you follow from Sincerely Yours, I was coming from a very hurtful place, somebody that didn’t feel too good about themselves, and now I’m in a place where it’s kind of like my mini rebirth. Coming from the pain I was before, like I’ve been in transition to loose weight, I’ve lost 156 pounds, so it’s just I fell like I’m in a cocoon phase, and now I’m stepping out into this butterfly.
Favorite part about recording this album: My favorite part about it was picking the songs that told the story, when you hear it from beginning to end, because I can’t just put together a bunch of songs and go ‘Oh, this is an album or this is an EP,’ like it has to mean something from beginning to end to tell a cohesive story. The funnest part outside of recording it, and creating it, was picking the songs that told the story.
The lead single “Flawed Beautiful Creatures”: That’s one of the singles but yes, “Flawed Beautiful Creatures” was inspired by after the Trayvon Martin thing happened. It was just kind of examining it from both ends, because obviously Zimmerman was wrong, but could it have been a mistake. You know he felt threatened, I was just trying to analyze it from everybody’s aspect. It was a tragic, tragic thing that happened and I’m analyzing it from the mother’s point of view, from the family’s point of view, from Zimmerman’s point of view, from his family’s point of view, so that’s what inspired the whole thing. Just the fact that we’re human, we lie, we sometimes do things that we really don’t mean, because in the moment it feels like the thing to do and you can’t really say until your in the moment what you won’t do until your in that position, so I don’t judge anybody, good or bad, it is what it is. I’m not here to judge because I’m not perfect, so that’s what that song for me was basically summing up.
Song she enjoyed recording the most: “Before I Knew Me,” it’s the last song on the EP and it started out as just a hook because I came up with the hook and I couldn’t think of anything else and that was just a year ago. Then I was writing another song, and couldn’t come up with the hook for that one, but it was those lyrics I used for the verses for “Before I Knew Me,” I’m like “dang, so that’s the hook and these are the verses.’ Like I pieced it together like a year later and it came out beautifully, like it was meant for that song.
The “Hell Yeah” Rick Ross feature.: He heard the song and wanted to get on it. That’s how it happened I didn’t have any intent for that to be it, it just happened and he killed it and so I’m really thankful for that. He felt the song and asked to get on it.
Sade Comparisons: I’m honored and flattered and kind of like ‘Really Sade?,’ she’s amazing. Actually growing up, I didn’t get into Sade until my teens and me singing didn’t happen until like three years ago. It wasn’t until I started recording my own demos, because I never used to want to sing, I didn’t like my voice, because I always wanted to be one of those gospel-ridden singers and that’s not my gift. Once I found my voice, I started singing really, three years ago, so getting the comparison is amazing. I’m really honored.
How she gets out of a writing rut.: I dim the light. Sometimes colors affect it so dim the light, light some candles and do other activities to get in the vibe. Listen to music that I’m a fan of, and yeah, and as long as the energy in the room with producers, the engineer, everybody’s just cool, it’s more than likely going to be a great session.
New York and Haitian influence: Absolutely. I’m Haitian and I grew up in New York so I grew up listening to reggae music, and soca, and all of that so that’s a very big part of my life. I never lost the culture I’m very much Haitian, I very much cook the food like, so I think growing up in New York and being able to hear radio stations like Hot 97 and they would dedicate Caribbean songs or something I grew up to. I actually kind of miss it because I don’t have that culture here in L.A., that’s something I definitely miss about New York.
Artists on replay: Currently I’m listening to Selah, I’m listening to John Mayer, The Lumineers, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, old Lauryn, some Bob Marley, and Jay-Z.
Jay-Z fan: Yeah, that has to be the Jay-Z dial. I have all of his albums from to beginning to right now and I never get tired of them.
Last album that wowed her: Honestly, Kendrick Lamar. It was amazing like how he pieced the stories together, like I feel like I know exactly who he is through his music.
What sets her apart: Well, I think the thing that sets me apart, because there’s a lot of, especially in my class, there’s a lot of people coming up that are super talented and I think it’s getting back to that place in music where everybody has a voice and everybody is an individual. It’s not the same five girls and the same five guys. You have your Miguel you have your Elle Varner, and myself, we’re apart of a crew we call Nouveau Noir, and it’s basically the new black. These are the people who are into art, into fashion, into music, you know anything having to do with art, we’re the artsy kids. The thing that set myself apart is I guess its, I’m just speaking from my place. I created my own little corner in the world and that’s just me. I can’t even describe what it is, I’m totally me, from how I dress to what I’m saying in my music, that’s just all what sets me apart.
Nouveau Noir: Right now, myself, Elle Varner, Luke James, and Miguel. Luke and I have been friends for a long time, we came up together. Elle and I met, who I love and adore. Miguel and I have known each other, so you know it’s just we’re all cool and we’re the next new thing happening. And of course anybody’s more than welcome to be down but for now it’s just us.