People have found a new artist to listen to after a video of Stephen Sanchez singing “Cigarette Daydreams” by Cage the Elephant blew up on TikTok.
“It was the first time that something that I had sang got a nice reaction,” Stephen told SoundStrip during his Southeast Asia press conference.
Since he posted that cover, the American singer-songwriter said it motivated him to post some more. He shared that it was an “interesting experience to have” strangers on the internet praise his singing, his playing of the guitar, or just the song itself.
Riding on that wave, his second post was his first song, “Lady By the Sea” in 2020. “It was even cooler to have written a song, and have people be excited about that,” he added.
From there, he kept on releasing songs until his RIAA 3x Platinum Certified hit “Until I Found You” from his second EP became a viral hit on TikTok and peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
His breakout single is a brilliant foreshadowing of his full-length debut album Angel Face, which tells the story of the fictional Stephen Sanchez as The Troubadour Sanchez who finds fame based on his 1958 hit song “Until I Found You.”
A different universe
In this fictional world, Troubadour Stephen met a girl named Evangeline, also his track from his debut album, and had a tumultuous romance with her. Troubadour Sanchez was murdered in 1964, and almost 60 years later, his supposed first album Angel Face was unearthed.
Along with the album, Stephen has released cinematic music videos for “Death Of The Troubadour” and “High,” directed by Charlie Rees, giving a closer look at The Troubadour’s story by narrating the love triangle between him, Evangeline, and her former lover Hunter.
In the real world, Angel Face is a 13-track album released in September 2023. Heavily inspired by ‘50s and ’60s love songs, the storytelling through lyrics coupled with crooner Stephen’s smooth and magnetic vocals along with dreamy jazz, blues and rock melodies, dominated the whole album.
He shared that his motivation to create the role of Troubadour Sanchez was his curiosity about what he would be like if he grew up in the 50s and 60s. If he was lined up against the icons at that time, how would he look like, he asked himself.
Stephen has also collaborated with Ben Schneider, the lead singer of the band Lord Huron, who he said working with was a dream come true since the band was his musical inspiration while growing up. They wrote together the songs “No One Knows,” “Caught in a Blue,” and “Death of the Troubadour.”
When they were writing “No One Knows” together in the studio, Stephen shared that Ben brought up a very important point: “A love song that’s only about how great it is all the time is not a real love song, it’s not the truth.”
He added: “We want to write it then as a duet that highlights both sides of the relationship and kind of say awful things that both of these people are doing to one another.” And so, Stephen reached out to Laufey, an artist he’s a fan of, and told her about the song and to sing this duet.
“She came to the studio with a cello in hand and we recorded the song live. Exactly what you hear on the record is what we did, looking across from each other, recording the song,” he said.
An old soul
The 21-year-old Stephen is an old soul, a lover of all things vintage like cars, style, hair, makeup, revolutionizing the future, music, and art, reflected in his music and fashion styles.
Oftentimes, he was compared to “King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley for his jet black slicked-back hair and 1950s crooner The Troubadour Sanchez persona.
He remarked: “Getting compared to anybody like that is a very wonderful compliment,” citing Elvis along with Sam Cooke and Frank Sinatra as his favorites.
“I think it’s really amazing that anyone would compare me to someone with magnitude and talent,” he said.
He also cited Harry Styles as his inspiration, but he shared: “More than their moves, it’s their confidence that inspires me to explore my own moves, the way I want to dance on stage and express myself.”
“They have definitely inspired me, but it always turns into your own thing,” he quipped.
Much like his fictional character as the troubadour, Stephen also rose to fame after the success of “Until I Found You,” amassing 1.6 billion streams on all versions on Spotify.
He was also invited by Sir Elton John to perform the track during his last-ever headlining show at Glastonbury and performed the song during Sofia Richie and Elliot Grainge’s wedding in France as well.
Stephen is currently touring the United States with Angel Face and revealed that as far as a sequel goes for his debut album, he said he has some things in mind for making an ascension story. For his sophomore album, he shared that he has some ideas but he’s not sure yet what it will look like.
Fictional or not, fans will likely watch out for both versions of Stephen Sanchez in Angel Face.
Image credits: Caity Krone