Star Signs, The Vibraslap, and Post-Show McDonald's — This is 20 Questions with Stellar

Jul 9, 2022
Originally posted on

Meet Stellar — the genre-blending, heart-bearing band behind Stages, one of the most thoughtfully-constructed EPs you'll hear all year. Give it a listen.

The band debuted the EP with a sweet release show here back in June, and they’re gearing up for more gigs this summer. Don't miss 'em.

  1. Who is Stellar? 

SG: Sophie George.

ER: Ellie Ratel.

SS: Sage Stoyanowski.

HH: Hailey Hunter.

  1. What were your roles in bringing this EP to life?

SG: I sing and do a little guitar. Hailey's the main guitarists, but I accent it. And I wrote a couple of songs.

ER: I play drums and do some background vocals. And I added the piano as well. 

SS: I played a bunch of fun percussion things. Tambourine, vibraslap,  flexatone — lots of cool little things. I also did some background vocals. 

HH: I play guitar, and I’m one of the co-songwriters. And I tracked bass. 

* Shout out to producer Aidan Clarke at Eightpiece Records!

  1. How would you describe your sound?

SG: We kind of use every genre. I think the umbrella term would be indie or alternative. But on the EP there's folk, there's very acoustic songs, there's rock.

HH: The sound pays homage to where we found ourselves musically at the time of writing it. I'd say at the beginning, we were doing a lot of acoustic jams just because we didn't have equipment yet. And then as I accumulated equipment, we kind of found ourselves in a rock-y sort of sound. So it's all over the place, but we like that. 

  1. What’s the story behind your band name?

SG: [The band] started as a duo with Hailey and I, and we met doing theatre at U of M. It's called the Black Hole Theatre Company, so we knew that we wanted our name to reflect that. I was researching black holes on the NASA website trying to come up with a name, and I found this thing called a stellar black hole. And I just thought that was such a cool name because of the connection to black holes and also "stellar" just means awesome, which is kind of fun. 

  1. What are your star signs? 

SG: I’m an Aquarius

ER: I’m a Cancer

SS: I’m a Scorpio 

HH: I’m a Pisces  

  1. What can people expect from Stages?

SG: A lot of variety. Each song represents a different stage of grief, so there are a lot of heartfelt lyrics. 

HH: It'll take you on a journey.

SS: We hope that people can related and find some comfort in it. 

ER: There’s a lot to connect to in all of the songs. There’s a song for every emotion.  

  1. Favourite lyrics off the new EP? 

SG: “I’m not trying to be happy, I’m just trying to find some peace.” (from the song Reflections)

HH: “If it makes you happy, why deny your humanity, it’s not insanity.” (from the song Water)

  1. What was the biggest challenge during the recording process? 

SG: The pandemic was a big challenge. 

HH: We started recording at the beginning of 2022, so it was on and off. We had all gotten COVID at one point, so that set everything back. Or if there was someone we wanted to record with, they'd have COVID in the house or something, so that’s another thing. 

SS: Yeah, COVID and time. Finding time when we can all get together to listen. 

ER: Just on a personal level — I always call myself a "fake drummer" because I studied percussion in school but I didn’t start playing kit until Sophie and Hailey asked me to play in their show. So there was sort of imposter syndrome for me in the recording process. But Aidan, who did all the recording, was super supportive. 

  1. Who are your musical influences? 

ER: Phoebe Bridgers and Peach Pit. Pinegrove, too. I’ll stop listing all the Ps. And for local bands, I really love Virgo Rising and Field Guide. And (honorary Winnipegger) Leith Ross

SS: Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Harry Styles. Love the new album. And for local artists, I love William Prince

HH: While writing [the EP], I listened to a lot of The Paper Kites and Madison Cunningham. And a local band that’s really cool is Poodle Paddle. Shout out.

SG: I’m a huge Joni Mitchell fan. And for local music: Begonia and Julien’s Daughter.  

  1. What’s the first thing you listened to today?

ER: Harry’s House.

SS: Ellie and I live together, so yeah, Harry’s House.  

HH: Friends Like U by the Love Letter Writers.

SG: Fun by Sun Room. 

  1. What’s your favourite sound? 

SG: This is like a running joke in the band because I love random sounds and I love putting them in our songs. The back door at my house makes this jiggling sound when you have to lock it, and I love it. It’s in a lyric of one of our songs, and I recorded it and it’s in These Four Walls. 

ER: Wooden wind chimes. Like bamboo. They’re not as ring-y as the other ones. I love sparkly sounds too, but there’s a softness to the wooden ones. 

SS: I do really love the vibraslap. 

HH: You know when you’re outside and you’re waiting for someone…and the car is driving up a gravel road and it’s like that crackling sound...I grew up in a small town. 

SS: Can I say one more sound? That made me think of home, and I have a four-month-old niece and her cooing — it makes my heart so happy. So, yeah, my niece’s baby babbles.

  1. What’s the first concert you went to? 

HH: When I was way too young to appreciate where I was, my parents took me to see Elton John. 

SG: I think my first concert was Selena Gomez. But the most memorable concert for me was the Begonia concert right before everything shut down. 

ER: Probably some sort of Christian rock band. I didn’t grow up going to concerts. The first concert I really remember was here (The Good Will). I went to see Jamboree. It was like my first introduction to seeing local bands. It was like a turning point. 

SS: Folk Fest was probably my first, but a significant concert for me was right before the lockdown as well. It was February, and me and my family went to see William Prince at the West End Cultural Centre. 

  1. What’s a fictional band you wish was real? 

SG: Daisy Jones and The Six

SS: I really love A Star Is Born, so maybe them. But I guess that’s just Lady Gaga. 

HH: In Mamma Mia! 2, there’s a band that plays at the café, and they’re really funny. I would go see them every night. 

ER: In Gilmore Girls, Lane’s band, Hep Alien. But only when Dave Rygalski was in it. 

  1. If Stellar was a drink you could order at a bar, what would it be? 

SG: An Aperol Spritz because we’re bubbly.

ER: A peach margarita. It’s fun, it’s sweet, and you get a margarita when you’re out with the girls! 

HH: The pear mojito from P.F. Chang's. We’re sweet, but there’s lots of spice in there, if you know what I mean (I do). I doesn’t hit you in the face, but you feel it later. And it’s got mint in it — it’s super fresh. 

SS: Just to go with the space-y theme of Stellar, I’m gonna say a Cosmopolitan. 

  1. How should people listen to the new EP?

SG: For sure listen to it for the first time in order. We did the order on purpose. 

HH: I think listening to it in the car would be cool. It sort of takes you on a journey. 

SS: Yeah, there’s something special about listening to music alone in the car. 

ER: I can see myself watering the plants listening to it. It’s not something that you have to think about but it gives you a second to be really quiet and take notice of the things that are going on around you. You can really go through your own thoughts and go through your own stages of growth. 

  1. What emoji would you use to describe the EP?








  1. What part of the EP are you most proud of?

HH: The guitar solo on Black Hole. 

ER: Living Without You, the drum part on that. It was really hard, but it was so, so worth it. I remember after I finished recording, I felt so good, I was on fire, and Aiden came over the headphones and he was like, “Drop the mic, you did it!” 

SS: I love Black Hole. It’s so rockin’. We have lots of vipraslap and the flexatone which gives it this sort of alien sound. 

SG: Probably the lyrics. I spent a lot of time on them and they’re very personal. 

  1. Pre-performance essential?

SG: A little team huddle to connect with everyone. 

SS: A deep breath.

HH: A moment outside. 

ER: A moment of gratitude. “This is where I’m at in this moment, and it’s fantastic.”  

  1. Post-performance essential?

HH: I do like a good McDonald’s run. 

SG: Touch base, give everyone a high-five. And have some water.

ER: I almost always change my shoes. I’ll wear something sparkly on stage, but when we get back out there, I’m like, get me some sneakers, PLEASE! 

SS: A hug. Connecting with the audience. No matter how sweaty you feel. It’s nice to just share that experience with people. 

  1. When’s Stellar playing next?

Stellar's playing Real Love Summer Fest! July 22nd at 7:40pm in Teulon, MB. Don't miss it.