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Steff Mahan interview 

Steff Mahan
Submitted by Andrew Ellis on 2010-04-29
Steff Mahan is the artist that defied the odds and launched her career in her 40's had some questions about that, and some other things. Take a look at what She said.
Hello, and Welcome to How are you? Hi there. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this with me. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Gosh…where do I start…you know, I've always wanted to do what I'm doing…write songs and go find people who would listen to me play. While I have had other jobs…(I was actually pretty successful at Advertising) I can't remember really ever wanting to do anything but be a singer/songwriter…since the first time I saw Bobbie Gentry sing "Ode to Billie Joe." After that I was hooked. I was about four years old and my momma said I turned around with these big wide eyes and said "Oh momma I want to do that!" It was probably a few months after that when I got my first guitar, a Harmony that was bigger than me. And in case you were wondering, yep…I still got her. How would you describe your music? That's always a hard question to answer. I know everyone thinks they are original but the truth is I'm not really that "original." I just like a lot of different kinds of music. I play in Texas and they think I play that devil rock-n-roll and then I play in New York and they think I'm as country as corn bread. I don't know if it's good or bad that I'm hard to define. I do get a lot people saying "I don't usually like country…or I don't usually like Blues…or I don't usually like folk or rock….but I like you and your music." I think what is original about me is the way I tell a story that hopefully hits home no matter what beat you put on it. What can you tell us about your latest album, Never a Long Way Home? I was always told that your first record is your best record because you spend your whole life researching it and living it and writing it. But I really think this 3rd record is my best. We recorded it live over two days in a great little studio in Nashville with an amazing band and too many laughs to count. What I love about the album is that it is raw and honest and every song on it I wrote while on a very long journey back to myself. For me this album is about that journey. It is about how you can travel all over the country or all over the world looking for yourself and for something that feels like home when suddenly you find that home has been with you the entire time. It is that place inside of you that feels safe and happy or having the people you love around you or taking your dog for a walk early in the morning. Who are your main influences? When I was very young Bobbie Gentry of course…and I always would watch the Grand Ole' Opry with my mom and daddy. As I got older and was developing my own musical taste I would listen to a lot of pop and a lot of rock-n-roll. I have never enjoyed really hard music like Black Sabbath, or Alice Cooper or Iggy Pop. I respect them all as musicians but their music has always scared me…like seriously scared me! I have always LOVED LOVED LOVED Fleetwood Mac! I can't count the number of times I have seen Stevie Nicks in concert. I have always gravitated toward any band, songwriter, or singer who has a great melody….catchy or beautiful….I just love a good melody. And I don't think I've ever confessed this before but I would watch re-runs of Lassie just to hear the theme song. The theme song was "Greensleeves" and I'm not sure if it was the melody of that song or the cute little dog sitting on top of the hill waiting for Timmy to get out of the well but it never failed that I would get teary eyed. Now days I'm a hard ass and nothing makes me cry….you believe me, right?
You launched your music career at the age of 40, how come you waited that long? Well, I was actually younger than 40 when I moved to Nashville to write songs but yes, my first album came out after I turned 40. I was about 28 when I received an offer for a writer's deal and I quit advertising in Memphis and moved to Music City. That deal lasted about a year and then the publishing company went under. I continued to play and write and had a few cuts on some independent artists. One day when I was about 35 I looked at my 4O1K and realized I didn't have one, got scared about old age, and decided to go get a full time job. I tried to find something that made me as happy as writing and singing but I never did. I swear I tried, but everyday I just felt like I was cheating God or whoever out of the gift he/she gave me. I'm not very religious but I do think there is something bigger than me helping me on this path toward what's meant to be and if I vary too much off that path I feel it. In the grand scheme of things, writing songs and singing my music is what feels right to me. Being a singer/songwriter is not just what I do, it feels like who I am. And at the age of 40 I was very lucky to have had a person in my life who helped me make that first album and get that ball rolling. So, I took the chance and haven't looked back since. I have come to believe in that saying, "leap and the net will appear" because for me it somehow did and it keeps appearing everyday that I get up and take another chance on this career. Do you see any potential drawbacks with launching this at this age? Oh Lawd…..and that's all there is to say about that! I mean, no one really wants to see someone come onto the stage in a hoverround. That is just not sexy! In all seriousness though, I see as many advantages as drawbacks in launching a career at my age. I think that my songwriting is different now..maybe more worn and more wise…because I have lived more and hopefully my words and my melodies reflect that. How have the people around you reacted to your music career? I don't think I have ever had anyone in my life, who didn't say they were proud of me and I know I am lucky for that. The first time I played the Bluebird many years ago, my mom and dad traveled 9 hours to see me do 3 songs. Recently, almost twenty relatives from my mom's side of the family showed up at an "alternative" club to support me and cheer me on. I also just got back from a show put together by all my high school and college friends and I have met some wonderful people and friends on the road. I also have this amazing partner, who won't let me quit! Have you set any goals with your career? Oh sure, of course. I have never had goals that were so outlandish that I didn't have some hope of achieving them. And I am very aware that things don't always turn out like you planned. I would be lying if I said that I'm exactly where I thought I would be by now or that I am exactly where I want to be. I'm not by any means. Yes, I want another writers deal because once again my publishing company went under several months back but it's a weird time for publishing companies now. I would love an independent record deal for a 4th album and to help with drawing larger tours. I have never wanted to be a huge artist like Cher or Madonna but it would be nice to not worry where my next biscuit is coming from. I would also like to maybe just maybe leave a little piece of me in the world. Who is the best artist you have performed with? Patty Griffin by far…..a pro to the T Who would be a dream artist to perform with? Patty Griffin again….but by next time for her to know she's performing with me and know my name. Is there a song out there you wish you had written? There are quite a few. "Landslide" for the great melody, "Waiting on the World to Change" for the great lyrics, "Sexy Back" for the great feel good quality, and "Live Like You were Dying" for the great money. Name one album that everyone should own. Carol King's Tapestry! There's not a bad song on that album! What does the nearest future hold for you? I am headed back to Nashville soon for a few days and then I hit the road for the summer to promote the new cd. And I am going to keep writing and reaching I guess!! Thanks for answering the questions, any final words for our readers? I wish I were wise enough or funny enough to say something that would stick with everyone. But all I know to say is you're never too old to do what you love because I think doing what you love is what keeps you young. Oh…and you can find out more about me and my music at or on Facebook and you can get my cd's on! Thanks again for letting me do this!