A Chat With Stu Allen

Stu Allen, who’s just released the 70s/80s inspired rock boogie hit ‘Deana (Not Deanna)’, featuring none other than Status Quo’s Matt Letley on drums, answers some of our burning questions about the release and his musical ethos!

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the music project? 

Sure! My name is Stu Allen and I’m a musician from the South of England – I drink a lot of tea and happen to love marmite. Then there’s ‘Stu Allen’, my aptly named solo project which gives me a vehicle to record, produce and release my music. I’ve been releasing songs over 2022, three singles so far. Despite being a solo kind of guy, I tend to prefer big production over the common perception of one man and his acoustic. Something I’ll get to eventually!

You just released your debut single Deana (Not Deanna) – what is the story you are telling with this song? 

The clue is certainly in the title! The song harks back to meeting someone for the first time and not quite knowing how to say their name properly. You know when ‘how it’s spelt’ isn’t necessarily ‘how it’s said?’ That. Anyway, it got cleared up quickly when meeting Deana, but the literal phrase of “it’s Deana, not Deanna” immediately screamed ‘there’s a song here’ – I was already humming an internal chord progression before our coffees were over with. So aside from my personal experience within the narrative of the lyrics, I think there’s quite a few relatable themes about first encounters, be it anticipation, angst or the “unknown.” There’s got to a be a few people out there cheesed off with having their names mispronounced too.

 

How did the music video come about and what was the inspiration? 

Well, the visual for this track was just as important to me as the song. Given the real life events surrounding the track, the ideas were free-flowing and the thing kind of wrote itself to be honest. Achieving it logistically was a different story, I had to sort of cherry pick moments from the real life meeting with Deana and then tie in “inspired” components to flow with the song. This was a bit of a back and forth in itself, lyrically I kept tweaking the song to suit the video right up until shooting. There’s also the band performance cut, which was originally going to be mixed in with the narrative – but there was so much great footage from both so I decided to release them both as separate pieces. I’m really proud of how they turned out, the narrative video certainly tested my editing skills!

 

How does this single compare to the others on your EP? What other themes are featured on the other songs? 

If you compare ‘Deana’ to my previous two singles, there’s certainly a variance in production style – ‘Falling Out of Sight’ is more “rock” and ‘The Rush’ is more “pop.” That said, all of them are essentially drums, guitars with my vocals, all speaking some kind of narrative. ‘Deana’ is the most literal of the three in that regard, which has been the most challenging so far in taking a risk because it makes more decisions for the listener, as apposed to their imagination in perceiving the lyrics. It’s a fine line to ride, but I’m having fun with the concept and that will be felt in future releases too.

 

What artists do you look up to and how have they influenced the music you create? 

I’d have to say Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are two pillars of songwriting & production for me, particularly when they collaborated. When you strip down tracks like ‘Free Fallin’ or ‘Won’t Back Down’, it’s such a simple gathering of chords and pretty little melodies that just “stick” in your brain – but that’s where the genius lays for me. Something like ‘Deana’ is absolutely encouraged by that ethos of simplicity, and a keen listener of Jeff Lynne would probably hear some “borrowed” production ideas.

 

How does your identity interlink with the music you create?

There’s certainly a culmination of influences and experiences that I could identify in my music, both sonically and visually. All things that absolutely wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t come from me. How that affinity works is a complicated question that might involve picking myself apart a bit… ask me again in 10 years! 

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