It’s difficult to nail down how to perfectly describe the outer-worldly, down-to-earth, wholesome but turbo essence that is Stephanie, aka WISER.
While her tattooed-covered head and face bearing metal that accompany her darker sound may make WISER come across as someone more tough and intimidating, Stephanie is actually a gentle softie at heart whose motto is to spread kindness and “be good – If not, don’t get caught.”
She’s her own unique breed of human, using her magical powers to create endless projects and musical endeavours, while producing some of the most delicate, energetic and tear-jerking tunes being released in the world, not just Down Under.
She’s played festivals and parties up and down the East Coast, with releases on some of the industry’s finest labels, including Ugenious, Mavic Music, Oxytech Records, Higher Recordings, Bubblejam and Revolver Upstairs Records, with many more in the pipeline.
She’s inspired by the raw energy and emotion of harder music genres, while infusing her trademark warmth. Her intricately and meticulously curated style has seen her billed alongside PleasureKraft, Kolsch, Patrice Baumel, Township Rebellion, Spektre, Pik & Dan, Rebuke and many more.
WISER jumped online to have a chat with Beat Magazine buzzing after a fun night playing a live stream for Nave Group – the first set she’s played in nearly 10 weeks after countless lockdowns. With her decks set-up on an ironing board she said she turned the stream up a notch or few, taking it to 150BPM – a move she felt and found was exactly what both her, and the virtual dance floor needed, after many more months of pent-up-energy being bottled up from some of the world’s harshest and longest restrictions.
“I was feeling so happy to just be mixing again. It was exactly what I needed, to reignite that love I have for music and particularly fast music as well,” she said.
WISER is constantly inventing and executing fun, exciting and explorative projects, from composing a wide range of music for dancer and model Mimi Elashiry, to her number one favourite project DAZED HDT (Hard Dance Therapy), an event and project encouraging artists to express themselves musically, created as a catalyst for movement both physically and emotionally where the only rule at the party is ‘do everything with kindness.”
“We need hard music for hard times,” WISER said, describing how the dance night started two years ago at the old beloved Boney, before she took a few of the parties to the institution of Revolver. It was there where Steph got the chance to book some of her friends for their first ever Revolver sets, which she believes to be one of the biggest honours you can have in Narrm.
Her attention to detail at her parties mirrors the delicate balance she applies to her own productions.
“I think having an intention when I set a party makes a difference to how people react in that space. It’s important to have a space where you can dance however you like, and last party we set up storm footage, turned all the lights off in the venue and the way it contrasted with the heavy music and people dancing without barely talking was an awesome experience. It’s amazing to walk out and then hear about how much people needed it. I’ve had a few people come who were over the age of 50 and they were dancing so hard – I don’t know how they found out about the party but the accessibility of this party shows how special it can be.”
WISER also prepares different smells for each party – it might be velvet, orange and cinnamon for example. Something warm and citrusy is provided with the intention for people to get flashbacks of that moment in time.
“It gives people an out of body dance experience. You know, six weeks later, you’re in a bakery or something, and you smell and it transports you back to that moment or that place. So each party I create a different smell and spritz it around. I’ve had people say, “this smells like your party!” And that’s great,” she says.
While she acknowledges that there are incredible multi-sensory experiences and art installations around the city creating those special feelings, she reminds us that her party, when it comes down to it, is first and foremost a rave.
WISERVISION, a monthly short one-minute collaboration series, is another of WISER’s diverse projects. Local digital designers will create wacky visuals giving an excuse to fabricate noises with wild explorations of sounds and freedom to try new ideas that inspire and entertain. She says it’s an excuse to have something to look forward to outside of the dancefloor and “basically make whatever I feel.”
Outside of the music world, WISER is studying community services, because if she’s not working in music at some point in her life, she wants to make she’ll be helping others be the best versions of themselves.
She’s previously hosted a few sessions as part of Yarra Youth Services’ DJ Skills program – an empowering program for female and gender non-conforming artists to learn skills and how to market themselves, as well as navigating the industry and how to carve their own path within it.
She’s also recently helped launch Puppy Love Tattoo, a private studio inspired by her friend and resident artist Max’s beautiful dog Bosco. Unfortunately, last year Steph had to close the doors of her previous tattoo studio and creative space Sacred Serpent Tattoo because it wasn’t feasible to try and cover the business expenses during lockdown. But since then, she’s helped Max with everything from business operations to administration, using her other acquired skills to support her mates while dance floors are currently non-existent.
Last year saw WISER release her first music video through Growing Pains, a beautiful, lighter production, featuring (rather unsurprisingly) her love for clowns.
“It’s a strange one,” she said, when we asked her about her love for them. “I’m not into like, horror clowns or anything. I’m more interested in the history behind the circus. I collect taxidermy and other oddities or curiosities. So circus sideshows and things like that have always been interesting to me.”
In her early festival days, WISER would make and pack a daily costume, one of them being a little tutu around her neck. “I just felt more myself – I ended up only bringing clown outfits, I’d have speed dealers and fishnet gloves and a different colour theme each day.. Then I ended up wearing the neck ruff to a gig and I felt great. I’m trying my hardest not to collect clown memorabilia,” she said.
“It’s funny because I’m naturally a big softie, and I just want to do everything with kindness. But on the outside, I look quite hectic, particularly with my head tattoos. And clowns for me are just a funny way of changing people’s perceptions of what it is to a human, or what is considered silly or fun. I don’t really act any different when I’m dressed like a clown.”
Her preparation for sets is just as creative – and she always tries to make people have goosebumps, and has been told many times that her sets have literally caused people to cry.
“There’s so much planned variety in my sets – people might be like, “I’m bored, I need to go to the bathroom.” I’ve put that track in on purpose because people need to get a drink or go to the toilet and come back. And then I might drop six bangers in a row. Sometimes two tracks mixed together might give me goosebumps – or I’ll tease 8 seconds of Eminem at Revs when people wouldn’t expect it.”
WISER’s recent set at Earth Frequency was one of her biggest career highlights. Being flown to Queensland was a huge step up for her, and she performed with, Donna Zakura, a dancer who performed a ritual at the beginning of her set.
While she usually gets nervous before gigs, she said she never felt more ready than during her Earth Frequency set. And at the end, she was brought to tears, crying in front of 2,500 people while they were screaming at her to play one more song. But even performing a live stream at home in PJs on an ironing board makes her excited too.
WISER has recently been signed to Revolver’s label with her exciting release Restless/Again, with productions that, for the first time, use her own voice. The last time she used her voice was when she was 10 years old, busking in the street to the one song she knew worked well – the National Anthem. But then she became a teenager and didn’t want to get bullied so she stopped putting herself out there.
Earlier this year, she also released Higher Realm on Connection Verified – which she described as “a celebration of chaos and surrender, a blur of feelings transmuted into sound”, comparing it to the wonderful world that goes in her own head – a celebration of chaos, surrender, confusion but also being warm, smooth and full-charged with energy.
She’s grateful for the pipeline of upcoming releases, because it’s naturally been a challenge to make music without the inspiration gained from parties. Her next release is a moody melodic track as part of the next Cavalry VA on Ugenius.
“There’s some days where things have been really hard,” she said as she reflected on the past two years of uncertainty. “I have a little list of things to look forward to that’s now the screensaver on my phone. It helps me get through the days when I’m not feeling creative. I know though that once everything starts to open up again, it’s going to be epic. And I’m just so bloody ready.”
Her thoughts on maintaining hope as the pandemic alters the stability of the future of the music industry?
“Just keep listening to things that bring you joy. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to be the same person you usually are. Because things are so, so different at the moment. So if you need to listen to ABBA, one of my guilty pleasures, then do it. There’s nothing that any of us need to be or do right now. Stay kind to yourself, and inspiration will find you when you want it to. And once everything opens back up, there’s going to be so much incredible music to sift through and creations to discover that will make it all worth the wait.”
Have a listen to the very special heavy-hitting, warm and emotional mix prepared and curated by WISER featuring some of her favourite tracks from the past few years.
Follow her here to learn more about what’s in store.