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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Backstage: A Conversation With Canadian Singer-Songwriter Stephen Schijns Who's Based In Kelowna, BC

By Douglas McLean.

In December 2022, just before the new year, I was introduced to the remarkable recorded music of Stephen Schijns, with his album, “Where Do We Go?”, a breathtaking collection of songs compiled by a writer fully in command of almost any genre he chooses to express himself in, and, full of fun! Songs reminiscent of the sixties collide with rock and roll, almost heavy metal, followed by deep roots soul. I have to say I can’t get enough of these songs and was delighted to finally meet Steve for a conversation on January 31st.

You can listen to the entire interview and music HERE

Stephen Schijns (pronounced Skines or Skynz) seems like he’s come out of nowhere with this startling collection of new songs on “Where Do We Go?”

This extraordinary debut album is the result of a long-simmering musical stew – Stephen, in his early 60s, has been absorbing pop, rock and folk music for decades while cooking up a batch of influence-laden yet wholly original erstwhile hit singles.

This is no concept album; each track stands on its own and the music leaps all over the record store aisles from rag-timey piano romps to chunky guitar riffs to contemplative thought pieces. Throw in some Sixties dance floor pounders, a surf song, classic power pop, and quirky folk-rock tunes and you’ve got a true box of chocolates. I can’t think of any direct analogies to another artist, but snippets of pop history are scattered throughout. Perhaps a Venn diagram of Tom Petty, Gordon Lightfoot, and The Hoodoo Gurus would help?

The songs are carefully structured, with singalong choruses, middle eights, melodic solos, guitar codas, and easily-understood vocals. Working with skilled studio musicians and producers, Stephen has imbued the guitar-driven proceedings with stellar musical backing to create the dynamic tension and resolution of classic pop-rock singles. While many of the tunes are furiously upbeat and cheery, some quieter interventions balance the sonic palette. Stephen’s comfortable singing is calm, warm, or urgent as needed.

The lyrics are interesting and thoughtful throughout, even on the lighthearted 60s-style tunes. Stephen has a slightly detached observational perspective that more often than not aims for an approachable universal reaction, rather than that of a deeply personal “singer-songwriter”. He sings about “a man” rather than “I”. Even in quirky songs like “The Yukon Doesn’t Care”, some solid philosophical and technical points get made. The lyrical cleverness of “What Do I Know About Love” and seriousness of “What? Why?” are played against buoyant musical ideas that almost make you forget what you’re humming along to. And the gorgeous “Elegy” brings proceedings to a close with a near-epic treatment of a man looking back on the errors and could-have-beens of his long life.

Stephen (Steve) Schijns (pronounced “Skines”) is an independent musician, singer, songwriter, and recording artist. He is based in Kelowna, British Columbia (BC), Canada.

Steve has been a student of pop / rock music since the 1960s. Steve created community radio programs on CFRC (Kingston, ON), and CKCU (Ottawa, ON) in the 1980s focused on obscure and interesting 60s songs. After learning to play guitar in his 20s he began composing songs. In his 40s he began jamming with friends in a cover band in Mississauga, Ontario; as “Blunt Instrument” they had a dozen live performances over ten years but did not record. Steve entered a recording studio for the first time in 2016 with producer Glenn Domina in Toronto, where musical friends helped record his first couple of songs.

Since moving to Kelowna in 2020 and hooking up with talented producer Andrew Smith at Lake Studios, Stephen has worked with Andrew and selected session musicians to create a string of catchy, upbeat, thoughtful, and musically interesting releases that have gotten a positive response and some college radio play. Noted musician/producer Genya Ravan of Sirius XM21 has selected several singles for her monthly 12-song “best unsigned acts” program.”


Friday Saturday Sunday O'Clock

Trans-Pacific Beach Bum

One Thousand Miles From Nowhere

I'm Coming Over Tonight

The Yukon Doesn't Care

You can listen to the entire interview and music HERE


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