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Midcoast Maine's Louisa Stancioff releases debut album

Louisa Stancioff playing her guitar at her home in Warren, Maine
Keith Shortall
Maine Public
Louisa Stancioff playing her guitar at her home in Warren, Maine

Louisa Stancioff hasn't had much time to reflect on her debut album. It only came out last week, and she's on a tour of the northeast with a show in Cambridge Massachusetts on Thursday night. Born and raised in rural Western Maine, Stancioff now lives in the midcoast, and is promoting her music with help of her record label, using an approach that by the standards of the digital era might seem "old school."

As a child with Bulgarian heritage on her fathers' side, Stancioff recalls the powerful presence of Balkan folk music in her early life by women using multiple dissonant harmonies. And now, at the age of 30, she says that music still has an influence on her own songwriting.

Maine Public's Keith Shortall spoke with Stancioff at her home in Warren.

Note: This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

LOUISA STANCIOFF: I think, unknowingly, my music does have a lot of dissonance in it. And it's very harmony based. I love singing with other people. So a lot of my songs are like, they kind of depend on the harmony, like the first song on my album is called gold. And it's really not the same without the harmony being there the entire time. And there's a lot of dissonance within that.

I always sung starting from a really young age, probably three or four, I think my parents really started giving me attention for that, like they would, they would encourage it a lot. And I really liked that. And, and then I think the first song that I wrote that I wrote that really captured an audience, I was 17 years old. And I was working at this summer camp in Lincolnville, called Tanglewood. And I shared the song that I wrote at the campfire that week, and everyone loved it, and somehow, it got stuck in everyone's head.

The following summer, I went back there and everyone was still singing it. And it ended up getting banned because it was so stuck in everyone's head. They were like, 'We cannot sing this song anymore. Louisa is allowed to sing it once a week at the end of the week. And other than that it's banned.' So then that's when I was really like, oh, I think I can write songs. And it actually means something to people. It's not just for me.

KEITH SHORTALL: Now you're living in Warren, Maine, and trying to promote yourself and promote your art. How do you do that from here?

I'm still trying to figure that out. But I travel a lot is what the real answer is. I leave Maine a lot, because it's kind of hard to promote yourself. We're so disconnected from the rest of the country, from the rest of the world. I recorded my music videos out in Los Angeles for the most part. And I've gone down to North Carolina a few times to view the label and like, do little voiceovers for Spotify and Pandora music and, and radio stations. And they have been really amazing about promoting my record on radio stations. It's been like on about 40 different stations or something, the singles, and the record just came out on Friday.

So in a way it's kind of like it used to work. You've got a label and they're promoting radio play?

They're kind of old school. Yep Roc is kind of old school compared to other labels. They're still really into vinyl. You have to have vinyl. I don't think you have to but people love it. I think it's it's kind of back in — like maybe it was out for a little while. But it just feels really good to put on a record when you really like an artist.

Stancioff just released her debut album "When We Were Looking" which is also available on vinyl. Her tour of the Northeast will included a number of shows in Maine.