Stephen James Orr – Within You

Stephen James Orr – Within You

 Stephen James Orr – Within You

Stephen James Orr – Within You

ARTIST NAME: Stephen James Orr + Gisun + Anh Phung


SONG TITLE: Within You


RELEASE DATE: June 11th, 2021



















Rooted in riff-based indie rock and soul groove, Stephen James Orr is a musician, songwriter, and producer from Toronto, ON. Fresh off releasing his first three singles in 2021, an album is due to be released this fall. In collaborating with a variety of visual artists and musicians each track is unique in its visual and auditory style.





Looking out, looking in, slowly
Seems the same
Where is the difference?


It’s within you
It’s what’s in front of you
You were standing there all along


Choose to see
No one can show you
Running low
Just to feel higher


It’s within you
It’s what’s in front of you
You were standing there all along 



Discuss your music life.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was a pre-teen and have always enjoyed music from a very young age! Early fond memories include running around to Little Richard records and playing drums on any Tupperware that could be found in the house. Growing up in a musical household, I played a variety of instruments before the guitar finally stuck! Prior to March of 2020, I played guitar in a few different Toronto-based bands including DC Disaster, Morning Thieves, After the Mountain, Good Enough Live Karaoke, and Violeta’s Door.  I’ve also had the opportunity to play alongside some amazing singer-songwriters including Gisun, Audra Santa, Zaynab Wilson, and Janïsa. 
I had never fully developed my own songs before, so during the lockdown, I used my free time to venture into home recording. As ideas continued to snowball, I found myself writing parts on all different kinds of instruments – guitar, bass, keys, synth, drums, and percussion – which led to compiling the album that is set to be fully released by the end of this year.


Discuss the recording of this song.
‘Within You’ started as a drumbeat with the intro/verse chord progression and grew from there! When I write, I tend to write and then record one section of a song, followed by a few ideas that I think would complement it. In this case, I recorded the bass line and keys next to fill out the sound. Once I arranged the song’s structure, I added more percussion and dropped the beat in the chorus to create more dynamics in the drum loop. 
I pitched a few of the tracks I was working on to Gisun and this was the one she chose to put vocals on! She recorded both the main vocals and all of the harmonies that you hear at her home studio in Vancouver.  Listening to another artist’s creation on your own track is always enthralling and when I heard for the first time what she had done with the song, I was blown away.  
Together, we felt that flute would take the track to the next level so we asked our friend and fellow music collaborator Anh Phung to play on it. Anh wrote and recorded the flute and flute harmony parts that you hear throughout the song! 


Discuss the lyrics of this song.
The song is simple in its meaning and signifies inner strength and courage, propelling our deepest truths that unfold as part of our life stories. 
We often look outward for validation, which can be exhausting!  Comparing yourself to others can be truly detrimental and take a serious mental health toll. Rather than searching externally, “Within You” tells the story of inner reflection and reminds us that our magic and beauty are already fully contained within ourselves.


Explain your songwriting process.
I love writing to a drum beat, so even though I write most often on guitar and may have a specific riff I’m working on, I like to program a drumbeat in Logic to reflect the vibe I’m looking for and continue developing the guitar riff from there. One idea usually spirals into multiple melodies and layers that I record overtop on guitar and keys, along with a bass line. I hate moving on from an idea with only one section complete, so I tend to record a few different instruments as ideas and label them as different sections of the song. Once I have a strong demo of the song, I’ll mix it and share it with some vocalists (who have free rein to add vocals where they see fit)!


Tell us what makes this song unique.
This song is unique in that the flute playfully interacts with the vocals and music as it weaves in and out of the song.  The structure is also unique, as there is somewhat of an anti-chorus – the song comes down in that part where you might otherwise expect it to rise, building instead to an extended instrumental outro. It also changes keys in the end from major to minor!


Tell us how you develop your sound.
I tend to record any and all ideas that I have and build on those ideas through collaborating with different artists. As such, my upcoming album tends to flirt with multiple genres because I enjoy creating music based on where my inspiration takes me rather than sticking to one particular genre. My sound is constantly improving and evolving as I try to incorporate different instruments or parts within a song. 


Explain your music style.
My music style shifts based on the singer I am working with. Overall, I love writing songs that have a steady groove to them, particularly in the indie rock or pop/soul genre. I also love experimenting instrumentally with sounds and unorthodox song structures.  Some of my songs fall into a more riff-based indie rock sound while others could be described as lo-fi soul tunes. 


Discuss your music background.
I grew up listening to classic rock, folk, blues, and pop, and love many diverse styles of music. Currently, my top most listened to genres would include funk, soul, R&B, and indie rock, but I feel inspired by music across many genres. 


Tell us the factors you consider in a good song.
Something that pulls you in and makes you feel something! This could be a lyric, melody, or instrumental piece that feels particularly impactful – if you find yourself singing along to any part of a song then it has worked. 


Discuss your future goals.
I want to continue making music and collaborating with other artists that I love. The ultimate goal would be to play music festivals around the world – especially Primavera Sound in Spain!


Tell us your opinion on categorizing songs into genres.
It helps the listener to identify what aspects of a song they like and find similar artists or songs with those components; however, identifying your own genre can be particularly difficult! 


Tell us if you are interested in collaborating with other musical artists.
I love the experience of collaborating with other musical artists! It is the same exhilarating feeling as when you perform live, and improvise certain parts. You never know where it’s going to go but with the right people, the results can be incredible. 



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