What’s the route for a New York born, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter to make their way to a raucous punky take on what could be loosely called Outlaw Country (well, ‘Pale Blue‘ is about an outlaw at least) ? The answer for Stephen Artemis, Jr is starting at the age of thirteen with a secondhand guitar and quickly getting into High School bands – of the punk and rock variety. One of his early bands recorded a four-track demo that was picked up by a local music label, and they soon recorded a seven-track EP. Though the label folded, Artemis found his true creative calling as a songwriter and recording artist. In 2006, Artemis moved to New York City with little more than his cheap guitar and quickly fell in love with the city and its music scene. Getting by wasn’t easy, but he bootstrapped it. He held down day jobs and picked up freelance work in support of his art, honed his writing skills in the city’s tight-knit, singer-songwriter, and open mic communities, and networked to create his band The Falling Birds and ultimately, support his solo endeavors.
With The Falling Birds garnering some success and getting opening slots for larger touring bands, Stephen Artemis took some time to explore a more singer-songwriter approach on a solo release ‘Inter Vivos’ – it did pretty well on the College music scene. The pandemic saw a second solo release in 2021, and ‘Northern Outpost Wildflower‘ did well enough that its creator realised that this was now his day job.
‘Pale Blue‘ fits into a long tradition of emotionally dark songs as Stephen Artemis told Americana UK that; “I really like true-crime podcasts. I watched way too much true-crime TV over the pandemic, so I think that’s how the song’s concept crept into my brain. I wanted to test myself to see if I could write something dark, like a true-crime podcast, but in my preferred medium; music’s version of true-crime is “the murder ballad,” and Americana music is particularly rife with that type of song, but I felt that nobody had written a proper murder ballad in a long time.”