Saturday, July 11, 2020
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"Stephanie Says" (She's yearning for England)
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Minneapolis Singer Songwriter Stephanie Winter. Winter and her band "Stephanie Says" have released a new CD entitled, "Sex, Socialism and the Seaside." It's inspired in part by Winter's longing for her former country, England. (Photo courtesy of Grimsey Records)
Minneapolis singer songwriter Stephanie Winter has lived in Minnesota for more than two decades. Her heart however, belongs to the country where she grew up, England. Winter and her band "Stephanie Says" capture that longing for home on their new CD, "Sex, Socialism and the Seaside."

Minneapolis, Minn. — Stephanie Winter jokingly refers to herself as an anglophile, but she doesn't admire the English from afar. She was raised in the town of Great Yarmouth on England's southeastern coast, and Winter clings tightly to that heritage.

As she remembers, life was easier on the other side of the Atlantic.

"I feel kind of more comfortable in England for some reason," she says. "I don't know, it's just kind of....gentler."

Winter's childhood was full of upheaval. Her father, who's American, was in the US Air Force when he met her mother, who's English. The family moved to her father's native Minnesota when she was two. Then her parents divorced, and Winter moved with her mother, brother and sister back home to England, where they lived for ten years. Then her parents re-married and moved back to Minnesota. Plymouth to be exact. But Winter never fully left England behind.

While her siblings tried hard to lose their British accents, she held on to hers.

"I always just feel like, the stress of trying to keep up with something here," she says. "I don't know, maybe it's just cause when I go back to England I'm a foreigner there too. So I'm really like, a foreigner in both countries."

Winter has been in and out of the Twin Cities music scene for years. Up until now, her most notable role was co-founder of the loungey pop band, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group," which gained major label traction in the mid 90s.

Her hero is Debbie Harry of Blondie, but she sounds more like Nico with the Velvet Underground. Winter, who's 40, has a deeply melancholy personality, which permeates her songs.

Winter strives for simplicity in her music. But while she sings with a gentle, almost childlike ease, the songs on "Sex, Socialism and the Seaside" often speak of emotional pain and isolation. What they reveal sometimes even surprises her, such as on the song "I am Free."

"After I wrote that it just made me realize how lonely I was," she says. "I knew there was something, you know, I wasn't feeling too great about things but I guess I didn't really really realize how lonely I was until I got finished with that."

Winter has struggled all her life with shyness and insecurity. Singing is one of the few things that has always come naturally. She's actually looking forward to her CD release show Saturday night at the Kitty Kat Club in Minneapolis. Winter sent a copy to her mom.

"She thought my voice is getting better," she says. "She liked the sound of my voice. But she thought that the lyrics were so sad and she said 'it breaks my heart when I listen to them.'"

Winter responded if she wrote exclusively happy songs, she'd probably be hiding something. For now she's happy if people can find some aspect of themselves in her music, and she's grateful to be singing.

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