Stephen Sanchez on Debut Album ‘Angel Face’: “It Happened Naturally”

Stephen Sanchez shared his full-length, debut album, Angel Face, today (September 22). The record calls to mind crooners of the past and the timeless songwriting of the ’50s and ’60s. It follows in the same vein as Sanchez’s breakout hit, “Until I Found You,” which could find a comfortable home on a glossary of a jukebox from that era.

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American Songwriter recently caught up with Sanchez to talk about what sparked his interest in retro music, his reaction to the success of “Until I Found You,” and more. Check out our full chat, below.

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American Songwriter: What sparked your interest in retro music? Are there specific artists that you credit as inspiration?

Stephen Sanchez: That music is incredibly timeless in the sense that the songwriting is so simple and universally understood. Songwriters back in the day–African-American songwriters–were writing as a means of survival. They were writing about the discrimination they were experiencing. [Those songs] became the voice of revolution. Then it developed into countless other genres of music. I just love that style and that R&B feel.

AS: How did you get started in songwriting? Was that something you always wanted to do?

SS: Growing up in a small town gives you the desire to look for more and dream about more. I was experiencing love for the first time and caring about folks outside of my family for the first time and songwriting became a vessel for expressing that.

I grew up in the church too. The way gospel songs are written and seeing the impact those words have on people really affected me. It translated into, “I’m gonna write love songs and make people feel the way that gospel music makes me feel.”

AS: Do you remember anything about the first song you ever wrote?

SS: I was about 14 or 15. I think it was called “Baby, You Could Be Mine.” It was a classic 15-year-old song. It was super generic–straight to the point. [But], it opened the door to write songs later on that did have a bit more depth than saying “Baby” after every line.

AS: When you wrote “Until I Found You,” did you feel it would have the impact that it did?

SS: No, I don’t think anybody feels that way! That song was written about somebody that I cared about–as most songs are. That was it. It feels like a unicorn in a way. It’s done every possible thing that it can do and it’s crazy being a ’50s style song. That’s pretty special.

AS: How was performing that song with Elton John at Glastonbury? How were you approached about that?

SS: It was really exciting and he is amazing. We developed a relationship over a period of time and he had come out to see the boys and I play at an event. After we finished playing, he asked me to come and play Glastonbury with him. It was a really exhilarating thing. I was definitely questioning him about it like, “Are you sure you want me to come do this? It’s your last show in the U.K. and you want me to be a part of it?” It’s pretty crazy.

AS: Looking at Angel Face, have you had these songs for a while? Or did you sit down and create this project with a specific intention?

SS: It happened naturally. The songs fell out naturally. We started writing the record back in December, so we got to spend a lot of time with these songs, rip them apart, and put them back together again. But, I think the story came very quickly and naturally.

AS: Do you feel there is an overarching message in the record?

SS: The different parts of love and saying that through characters like The Troubadour and Evangeline. [Those characters] presented themselves naturally as we started writing and developing our story.

Caity Crone / 2B Entertainment

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