Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Life After The Band – The Okay Win Frontman Stephen MacDonald to Release ‘Local Divide’

Some fresh singer/songwriter music for summer nights on the beach.

When a lead singer announces his side project but continues to produce songs written and performed by the same person, does it sound any different?

For the past three EPs, five full-lengths and a total of nine years, Stephen MacDonald produced heavy, emotionally laden tracks as the frontman and primary song writer for Boston-based The Okay Win. But when the band called it quits in 2016, MacDonald carried on and is now preparing for the release of his first solo record since 2008 ‘Local Divide’, out June 23rd. 

“I don't set out to make people sad, but I also don't want the songs to just fly over people's heads. I want them to feel something.”

“It was definitely a long time coming," MacDonald starts. "I don't mean that I was hoping it would end or anything, but it was just becoming more and more apparent that the band was competing with other life factors and wasn't always a main priority. Once it came to light that pretty much no one could focus on it anymore, it didn't feel right to continue using the name, so I decided to close that chapter and continue under my own name.”

While The Okay Win was becoming more layered and sometimes moving at full speed sound-wise, leaving little room to make out subtle nuances or lyrics, “Stephen MacDonald” the singer/songwriter is a more intimate experience. “The Okay Win had become so busy musically at times, and I was all about that because I love bands like Built to Spill. Now though, I am really just connecting with artists like Kevin Devine, Clem Snide, Pinegrove, and Pete Yorn who have this real sense of purity and simplicity to their songwriting. Not to say that their songs are easy, but they feel effortless when they're played.”

As part of a full band or on his own, MacDonald has inescapably branded his sound which consists mostly of poignant, complex and metaphorical lines that pierce your brain and invade your vulnerability, and listeners can expect this to continue on ‘Local Divide’.

“As far as people's emotional reaction to my music, I try to steer clear of getting too wrapped up in it. If they're feeling something from it at all and it's connecting to something in their personal life, that's the ultimate goal. I don't set out to make people sad, but I also don't want the songs to just fly over people's heads. I want them to feel something or take something away,” MacDonald tells Bishop & Rook. “I know that my music can definitely come off as fairly melancholy at times. It's not always my intention, and part of it is due to my vocal style. I don't have much range, so it just kind of comes off that way.

Music for me is my way to make sense of what is around me and what I am going through. It's a way of putting myself outside of my comfort zone and learning more about myself and the world. That's all I ever really set out to do when I write a song.”

Listen to “Basic”, the first release off the upcoming LP ‘Local Divide’ available on June 23rd, by visiting Stephen MacDonald’s office website, follow on Facebook for additional release information and head to Bandcamp for full releases.

Catch Stephen MacDonald on July 2nd at Lilypad in Inman Square, Cambridge featuring Matt Jones (The Okay Win) on drums and opener Chad Gosselin (Big Lonesome). Event details.

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