With his versatile approach to beat-making and knack for storytelling, it’s easy to forget that Stevan is still technically a teenager. The multi-instrumentalist was raised on a healthy diet of gospel and soul via his dad’s cassette collection, but it took discovering hip hop legends like Childish Gambino and Pharrell Williams for him to really make music on his own. After teaching himself the drums, guitar and production skills from YouTube, Stevan began creating laid-back, genre-melting tracks like ‘Timee’ and ‘On My Mind’, earning millions of streams worldwide—not bad for a kid from Wollongong whose musical output is made entirely from the confines of his bedroom.
Congratulations on putting Just Kids out into the world! Did the extended months of isolations have an impact on how the mixtape panned out?
Thank you! Yeah, isolation had a surprisingly positive effect. For one, I got time to sit down and focus on the mixtape and get it done, and my social media got a lot of attention due to the isolation covers I was dropping.
You’ve been making music since you were super-young. Are there any songs you made when you were younger that you hope never see the light of day?
My first real song was called ‘Down’. I made it in Year 8 and uploaded it to SoundCloud. Some classmates of mine found it and that was the end of my life. They’d play the song all the time; it was really embarrassing, but it’s a good memory.
What was the first song or record that had an impact on you?
My dad had an Al Green CD he’d play all the time. I must have been around five or six years old and I remember having a moment to this song:
We just came across @stevanshamster on Instagram. What’s it like having your fan accounts now?
I’m so grateful that people care about me enough to make a page. It’s crazy because all of this is new to me and I’m just trying to take it in and enjoy the love.
Your posts and Instagram live addressing your thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement and Indigenous rights here in Australia were really articulate and thoughtful. Why do you think it’s important for musicians to go beyond communicating through their music, and engage with these kinds of issues directly?
I think that when you’re a musician you get given a certain amount of power—that power being influence—and what you do with that power reflects your character. Even if no one was following me, I still would’ve said something because I know that what’s happening is wrong. The fact that people look up to me means that I have a responsibility to them and I could use my influence to create change, even if it’s little.
What’s a story you want to tell through your music in the future?
I want to let people know who I am, and I feel like Just Kids is a picture of who I was. Music has allowed me to see so much already and I’m growing every day. I want people to know my story.
What’s been one of the most ‘pinch me’ moments you’ve had in your career so far?
The band and I played a show in Perth called Sound On. We played in front of four thousand people and that was otherworldly. I also met Ruel at that festival which was crazy ’cause I was a huge fan of his song ‘Face to Face.’
What does the world not yet know about Stevan?
The world doesn’t know what I have in store for them. This is only the beginning.