Stephan: Vital Intel
Stephan Seupersad, well known as Pleuto, the Calgary-based artist wielding an eclectic and genre-bending brand of noir hip hop has grown into an accomplished lyricist and vocalist newly revealed under the mononym; Stephan. His fresh take on R&B is rapidly garnering international viral acclaim.
The music video for his first single “Merci,” released at the start of September, currently has over 105,000 views on Facebook and climbing, making it one of the most explosive releases from a Calgary artist this year.
His follow-up single “Compass” is currently available on all major platforms, and he has plans to release more material before the year is out.
When I last interviewed Seupersad in 2015 he was rapping and producing under the alias Pleuto. He followed a fervent schedule that often saw him complete an entire song in one day, however looking back he acknowledges that his music lacked the focus to move forward.
“I was just putting out singles, there was no structure to what I was doing,” says Seupersad.
“I didn’t have a marketing plan, I didn’t care too much about was happening with the music.”
In hindsight, his strategy during that period largely consisted of throwing music into the void of Soundcloud and hoping for the best results. In the time that Pleuto was active he amassed a catalogue of over 50 tracks on the platform.
The music he made during this period felt unfulfilling for Seupersad, who’s real musical passion since his mid teens has been R&B. And so shortly after releasing his final single as Pleuto “When The Skies Won’t Cry,” Seupersad took an extended hiatus from creating music.
“I think I needed to take a step away from music, and a big break from everything, to be able to find myself again as an artist I guess, and find out what I really wanted to be doing,” he says.
Although he still sings with the same signature low drawl that he once rapped in, the music of Stephan is a world away from the rapid-fire grind of Soundcloud rap. Instead, his career now is built around a slow, calculated approach to music that’s steeped in maturity and his newfound clarity.
“I care a lot more about the finished product now and that’s a big thing for me, I don’t think I gave a shit before.
“I don’t even think I cared about the music I was making before, it was just fun, it was something to do, it was like stretching my creative bounds but this is more of like me as a grownup.
From the onset, Seupersad’s shift into Stephan has largely been co-engineered by local producer Taylor Richardson, who produces under the alias Tei.Sun.
“I’m working with a lot of other producers right now too, but he’s kind of the one - like I’d say he’s my executive producer,” says Seupersad.
Working with a producer has allowed Seupersad to funnel his energy into vocals and lyrics, something that he feels has been hugely beneficial for his growth as an artist.
“I’ve always been a lyricist and now a vocalist, and I think I’ve always wanted to just focus on that, and now I’m finally able to and it feels really nice,” he says.
“I don’t know how many vocalists produce for themselves but they’ll probably all tell you that it’s kind of a pain in the ass, and it’s really refreshing to have space to think and to be given canvas to work on by somebody else.”
In addition to handling the recording and defining the aesthetic of his songs, Richardson has also been responsible for handling the business-end initiatives that’s allowed Seupersad to move from Soundcloud onto more marketable platforms like Spotify and iTunes.
“Taylor’s been very good for me just because he has knowledge of how the industry works a little bit, and who does what, and how to do those simple things, the little frustrating things to me like getting your stuff up on those websites,” says Seupersad.
Richardson also enlisted the help of his brother Jeremy, the vocalist and social media manager of local pop punk band Widmore, to assist with Stephan’s targeting on Facebook. The result has been an international response for Merci’s music video that for Seupersad has been unprecedented.
“So what we did was we targeted different countries, so it’s crazy because in certain countries it’s doing really, really well. I guess it’s doing well in the U.K., and it’s doing really well, like people love it, in Mexico, which is crazy.
“I’m like sweet, it’s fucking awesome, I just would never have expected it to do well there.”
When Seupersad and Richardson first began working together they recorded an entire six song EP entitled Prismalove between last December and January of this year
“I thought ‘Merci’ was a good call because it’s really digestible and it’s really open sounding,” says Seupersad.
“Merci” was also chosen as the first single because its minimalist nature, which consists largely of a simplistic bassline and a four-on-the-floor drum beat, also lends itself well to remixes. Seupersad and Richardson sent the components of the song to various producers and ten responded with remixes, enough for a full remix album.
“There’s a lot of collabs on there I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” says Seupersad.
With the single, its accompanying music video and remix EP, and Seupersad’s latest single “Compass” currently gaining momentum he now plans to release Prismalove in January.
According to him it will have elements of the two current singles while also showcasing the full breadth of his musical influences.
“There’s definitely still some bassy, kind of electronic auto-tune trippy stuff, some stuff you’d be expecting out of me, and then there’s some good R&B jams, there’s also some dancehall-influenced stuff.”
More importantly, having an R&B album on shelves will be the realization of a goal that Seupersad has had for almost 15 years.
“I also consider myself a developing artist still, we just started making this stuff last December like I said, but I’ve also been making music for a long time, it’s been a long time coming,” he says.