Describing herself and her music as “part folk, part pop, part chamber music, part glitter, part beeswax, and only part human”, Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter and talented multi-instrumentalist Stella Roshi-Moles (aka Stella Peach) creates music that has enough emotion to cover every realm of today’s musical genres, and leaves a lasting impression. Following last August’s self-release of her low-fi debut EP Mixtape for the Honeybees, which she recorded and constructed at home and released for free, Stella is proud to announce the October 28th release of her first full-length album, Wisdom Teeth, on Post-Consumer Records. The fifteen track record is a wild blend of mythology and the contemporary – of witchiness and humanity.
With her string arrangements, honest and gripping vocals, and unique songcraft, it’s difficult to find artists that compare to the tenacity and originality of Stella’s Wisdom Teeth. Some clear linear paths can be drawn to Andrew Bird, Regina Spektor, and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, but her music comes from somewhere else – outer space or deep beneath the earth. There are a few moments when Peach’s humanity shines through. Moments when the fables and myth fall back and reveal the artist – lines like: “I’m being paralyzed by fear/but I am not animal/I don’t know what I’m doing anymore” on “Paralysis” or “The Fool” (“I’m nobody, nobody/Who are you?/Are you nobody too?”)
“Ah! So this is How it Feels,” the opening track of Wisdom Teeth, features a looping peddle and a violin (Stella picked up the fiddle at age six, and has been studying classical violin ever since), and she layers the catchy fiddle riff, complete with handclaps and ‘doo-dah-doos’, until a pop-folk song emerges. The song ends with an almost violent clash of a droning violin note and the electronic looping pedal. And thus the theme for the record is revealed. Discussing the song, she says, “It’s about the end of the world as we know it, which of course, is the beginning of the world yet to come. As Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and as Death plays the fiddle to awaken the dead, ‘Ah!’ is a song that asks you to run with me, through the flames and into the darkness.”
Wisdom Teeth was recorded and mixed by Nicholas Taplin over 2013-early 2014 at Post Consumer Studios in Oakland, CA. Writing and performing all the tracks, Stella wasn’t afraid to pull sounds from the streets of the city into the album, ultimately creating a world that is both here and now in the present and also, from a time somehow forgotten. The album is at times, quiet, even silent, in a John Cage-ian technique of sound and the absence of sound. Cars and police sirens roar in the distance. The teamwork of the violin, a centuries-old instrument, and an electronic looping pedal, make for a neo-nostalgic sound. The content of the songs are surreal, pulling fable and reality into the same room; songs about rituals, mice who live in elk-bone homes, a boy with a bird in his chest, and springtime in October.
The biggest moment of the album, the moment that shows us that although it may be hard to believe, there really is a human behind Wisdom Teeth, comes during the last verse of the last track, “Be Like the Water.” Stella’s voice shakes and spits and pushes out the last verse and then the piano riffs and the song is over. Then, there’s nothing but silence and a soft laugh from the artist.
In her words, “Wisdom Teeth is an album that grew until it needed to be extracted. After 20 years of playing the violin, I found I had things I wanted to say. What came out is a collection of songs that are sometimes spells, sometimes stories and sometimes tapestries.”