From relentless relatability to undeniable depth, Stephen Wrabel is the perfect candidate for compelling storytelling. While live-streaming an exclusive show for American Songwriter’s Behind The Mic series, the artist shares his love for collaboration and his even deeper love for the mystifying meaning that numbers hold for him.
“I rely so much on co-writing and collaboration, for better or for worse, sometimes I feel like I’ve lost the ability to sit down and write a song,” Wrabel says. “I mean, solo writing, I will just sit here and try and try and try, whereas co-writing you just feed off the energy of the room, which is so nice,” he adds.
Regardless of the toiling he is apt to face, Wrabel boasts accolades from his various collaborations with artists like Kesha, the Backstreet Boys, P!nk and many more. Those achievements though, have never deterred him from retaining a humble attitude.
When discussing how his collaboration with the Backstreet Boys came to be, Wrabel admits how excited he was to be with the band and for a moment, even feel like a true Backstreet Boy.
“We did another song called ‘Chateau’ on the record and we got to do backgrounds like all around a mic and I felt like I was a Backstreet Boy and that was really fun,” he says with a giddy smile.
This unapologetic excitement is, in one way, what makes Wrabel so rare. He is continually grateful for the magic of creating music and allows creativity to strike organically in moments of collaboration, praising the ability to connect.
Instead of putting himself as the creative pulse for the music he makes, he attributes his wins with co-writing and with the meaning he finds within the mundane. His identity thrives when telling stories that resonate with him, sometimes being stories that just have to do with a number.
“I’ve always tried to write true stories, that’s all I kind of know how to do. I’ve never been able to write like, ‘Now, write the simplest, pop-iest, catchiest song,’ that’s not really my wheelhouse. I think going into true story is kind of like my comfort zone and that started with ‘Ten Feet Tall’ and then ‘11 Blocks’ and then ‘90 Days’, so there is a lot of numbers. I find so much meaning in a number in just how tangible that feels…I’ve always loved a number,” he says.
Watch Wrabel’s full Behind The Mic session below.