VIDEO PREMIERE: Stacy Antonel Marries Jazzy Vocals and Classic Country Sounds on “Planetary Heartache”

Photo credit: Natia Cinco

An idiosyncratic artist with a background in classical piano, Stacy Antonel makes jazzy, country-leaning, clever Americana that feels both vintage and hyper-modern at the same time. Rooted in classic country but influenced by jazz, pop, and R&B, her throwback “country jazz” style conjures the 20s-30s musical era when jazz and country weren’t such disparate genres. There’s a complex, conversational quality to her lyrics, reminiscent of alt-rocker Courtney Barnett, paired with the effortless, emotive vocal power of country icon Patsy Cline. “I like passionate, full-throated singing,” says Antonel. “I want the notes to burst out of me.” Now based in Nashville, Antonel is poised to release her Americana debut Always the Outsider on June 17th, featuring compelling, narrative storylines (taking a page from Willie Nelson’s songbook), agile vocal melodies, and unexpected thematic twists. 

Recorded at Singing Serpent Studios in San Diego with producer Ben Moore (Hot Snakes, Diamanda Galas, Burt Bacharach), Always the Outsider blends elements of mid-century country music with unconventional subject matter and virtuosic instrumentation– including tracks with Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams) on pedal steel and acoustic guitar, and Joe Reed (Merle Haggard) on bass. The thematically unique collection explores metaphysical and supernatural concepts (alien-earthling romance, past-life trauma) as well as grounded narratives of everyday experience (isolation, disconnectedness, sexual desire, feeling like an alien in your own body) in Antonel’s distinctively jazzy style. There’s an intelligent, otherworldly beauty to the album, with many anthems of outsider-ness made more striking by their classic-country sound and structure. At times, Always the Outsider feels like an elegant relic from a bygone era, other times it’s a glimpse into the distant, mystical future of country music.

Today Glide is excited to premiere the video for the standout track “Planetary Hearthache.” The immediate wash of pedal steel guitar bathes you in twangy comfort as Antonel’s jazzy vocals soak up around you. This slow and swooning song balances her own skills as a singer with a classic country and folk sound. What makes this song really capture your attention is that Antonel isn’t trying to sound like anyone else and this isn’t simply another attempt at making music of another era. Instead, she conjures up a classic sound that feels distinctly fresh and modern while also breaking your heart with the emotion she exudes in this tale of heartbreak.

Watch the video and read our chat with Stacy Antonel below…

What is the story behind this song? What was the inspiration that made you write it?

I wrote this song about a relationship I was in for most of 2020. Literally, it’s about a failed romance between an alien and an earthling, but figuratively, I’m the alien. I’ve been going down the metaphysical rabbit hole for the last few years, and I learned that before I was Stacy Antonel I was in a formless mathematical plane for a long time. I realize how insane that sounds to most people, but whether or not I literally believe it, hearing it actually gave me a lot of insight into my own behavior. It provided an explanation for why I’ve always felt like an outsider, why human relationships have always seemed so bizarre and inscrutable to me, and why I’ve always felt so uncomfortable in my own skin. I’m a foreign exchange student on planet Earth, just observing everything and everyone, doing my best to fit in. Which most often isn’t good enough, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. This man cared about me so much, but it just never felt right to me, no matter how wonderful I thought he was. No matter how much we tried. It led to anguish on both sides. In the song, I’m singing as the broken-hearted party, but in reality, it’s coming from his perspective.

How did this song come together? What was the songwriting process like? Was it “quick and easy” or did it take some time for it to come together?

This song came to me almost fully formed in 10 minutes, which is really unusual for me. During this particular week, I was challenging myself to write a song every day in under 20 minutes, no matter how terrible it was. Historically, I haven’t been a super prolific writer, and I think that’s because I get overly attached to the songs I’m writing. At the time, I was really trying to build the songwriting muscle through repetition and total nonattachment to the results.

My roommates were drinking in the kitchen, and I really wanted to join them, but I hadn’t written my song for the day, so I forced myself to sit down and do it. I basically just started singing stream-of-consciousness style, and this is what came out of me. I really don’t know why it was alien-related, but it felt very much like it was about this particular romantic relationship.

I loved this song immediately, which is also unusual for me. I normally need people to tell me a song is good before I start believing it, but this one I loved just for myself. I was a month away from going into the studio, and I’d already sent my producer all the demos I was planning on recording, but fortunately this one made it onto the record.

When you recorded this song, what kind of vibe or overall sound were you wanting to achieve? Did it end up sounding like you expected it to or did it come out different from what you thought it would be? How do you feel about the final version?

I wanted a ’30s jazz vibe, but in outer space. This is my favorite track on the record, so I love how it came out. We used a huge reverberant kick drum to get a spacey sound, and the pedal steel player made the sound of the spaceship ascending at the end. Maybe a little campy but I really wanted that extra touch.

Talk to us about the video. Whose idea was the treatment? Who directed it?

Oceanna Colgan, a Nashville-based videographer, directed the video, and she’s amazing. I knew roughly that I wanted the video to center on the romantic relationship through flashbacks, but I wasn’t sure how to incorporate the alien element. I wanted it to be more interesting than just a classic broken heart narrative, but I didn’t want either of us to be a literal alien because that felt too on the nose. Oceanna came up with the idea of having me sing the song from the cover of vintage outer space sci-fi novels, which led to my first-ever encounter with a green screen.

Where did you film the video? What made you choose the location?

I filmed the video at an Airbnb in East Nashville. I had done a photo shoot there a few months before, because it’s so amazingly vibey and ’70s. You wouldn’t really know it from the lyrics, but in my head this song is solidly set in the ’70s, so I really wanted that aesthetic flavor. It’s my dream house for sure.

Any favorite moments from the video?

Nathan Kalish plays my lost love, and he cracked me up to an almost criminal, counterproductive extent. We dated briefly last year, and he gamely agreed to make out with me again on camera. I think our personal history makes the story feel more authentic.

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4 Responses

  1. Hey Stacy,

    What a wonderful song and video… I am having goosebumps listening to & watching it…
    You did great and can’t wait to hear the rest.
    Hope you’ll be here in Frankfurt and Schöneck one day again and hopefully soon!

    XX Elke

  2. Wow, Stacy, you are amazing! Loved the video and your song! I am looking forward to the rest of your album! Certainly evokes the 70’s vibe… Wishing you every success!
    Mari Jo (Jody) xoxo

  3. This one hits close to my Planetary Heart. What a great feel and and airy forlorn love-soaked video. You really did a number on ME Stacy. A great song – classic!

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