Chicago — Every musical artist creates differently, but they probably agree on one thing: Making it in the business is hard, but not impossible. Some rise to fame after going viral. Others get put on by a connect in the industry.
Steve Epting’s story is in a league of its own. The Chi-town native toured with Beyoncé & Jay-Z after quitting his 9 to 5. Soon, he became a supporting vocalist for some of your favorites: Kanye West, Demi Lovato, and Ty Dolla $ign. The R&B singer recently released his singles "Drop" and "Peace of Mind."
TrueStar.Life got the inside scoop on how Steve took his talents to the next level.
TrueStar.Life: You’ve been on tour all around the world as a supporting vocalist for Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Kanye West, Demi Lovato, and Ty Dolla $ign. What was the first large tour that you were a part of? What did it take to earn that spot?
Steve Epting: The first major tour that I was ever a part of was the On the Run II tour with Beyoncé and Jay-Z. After about a year and a half or two years of being in LA, making connections, being at recording sessions and open mics where nobody really knew me, and doing different things around the city, I quit my job. Put in my two weeks in 2016 at Reseda High School. I was just like, “Man, if I really want to do this, I’m going to go for it.” I had an opportunity to be the vocal arranger for a Disneyland show at California Adventure. And that transitioned me to this full-time vocalist, full-time artistry, which can be a little scary. So, I was really trusting God and moving with faith.
A few weeks passed, and I got a call from a friend who said he referred me for a huge opportunity. It just so happened to be Coachella with Beyoncé. I didn’t have to audition for it. I was kind of called in for it. I actually got mistaken for someone else with, kind of, the same first name. Stevie Notes. I’m shaking the director’s hand and he was like, “Oh, we’re looking for Stevie Notes.” And I’m like, “Well, I’m Steve Epting, so…do I need to, like, do an eight-count or something? Do I need to sing something? Let me know!” But he was like, “No. We’ll see how it goes.” I ended up doing Coachella which was an amazing experience. With 12 singers, and getting down to four singers, we went on tour with Beyoncé. We did a North American leg. We did a European leg. We also did South Africa, Dubai, India, all of which were amazing and very memorable experiences for me, and that I’ll always cherish.
TSL: You recently released the music video for your song, “Drop.” The visuals are the perfect blend of Black Excellence, romantic interest, community, and fun, African vibes. What inspired the elements for the video?
SE: I originally wrote the song in 2019 and was working with Sunday Service at the time. I had a little time to really commit to my artistry, so I was really focused on that. So, traveling to Atlanta, I worked
with some amazing producers and tried to create my own vibe and what I wanted to say as an artist. I believe that even though you can have a great video, if the song isn’t up to par or doesn’t fit, it may not connect as well. Music comes first. So, I was very adamant about that.
Transitioning to the visuals was more than a year’s process. Working with the team for about five to six months really fine-tuning what I saw in my head. I’m very inspired by futuristic elements, or Afro-futurism, and seeing our society in a futuristic way. I think that’s so cool from a visual aspect. And even a technological aspect, moving forward the culture. It can be very exciting to think about. So, I want to continue to show that in my art in different ways that also show who I am as an artist. The process was very…it was a great process. Really diving in and tapping in to my creativity and what I see. A moment where I can really fit in like, “This is mine.” I’m not working for someone. I’m not having to cater to a specific way or a specific sound or culture that’s already been established. I’m creating my own. It’s very exciting to think about. It can be scary, but I have to shut those thoughts out and really trust and feel and just do.
TSL: You also dropped the visuals for your newest hit, “Peace of Mind.” A wall filled with the names of those who’ve been murdered by police can be seen throughout. There are also scenes of you, two other Black men, and one white man locking arms and marching. Explain why you chose to lead with these themes.
SE: This is a great musical group that I have been blessed to be a part of called P.E.A.C.E. Band. We started the band in 2015. This is one song of our five-track EP that we released last year that I’m so proud of. We are a diverse group. We wanted to really push the main motivation and intention of not only our song, but our group name. P.E.A.C.E. is an acronym for Performers Embody Artistic Creative
Energy. We want to not only strive for peace, but we want to be peace. In that reenactment of the Martin Luther King photo, that’s one of the marches that we reenacted. It was very powerful to be able to do that and to showcase that. Not only with us wanting to establish and continue to drive home the message of unity, but to be a celebration for Black History Month. And to honor those that have come
before us and to continue to use our light and our gifts to blaze our own trails and, you know, change it up. It’s time to shake it up. It’s time to be different. It’s time to move different.
TSL: What new projects are you releasing in 2021?
SE: You can expect a full project from Steve Epting. Whether that be an EP or album. I’m not sure yet, but it will be a body of work that I’m very excited about because I have not released a full body of work at this point. To really tap in and express my heart and show people who I am. Really take it up a notch; step my foot into music and the music industry and further create my name–Steve Epting the artist.
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This guest post is in partnership with the True Star Media.