Posted On 05 Feb 2019
On his debut single “Lookalike,” Stefan Poole better known by his artist name, STF laments a distressing emotional plight: When your ex replaces you with a carbon copy. “Congratulations,” Poole sings in his sultry tenor, “You found a knock-off of me, wasting all your love on a lookalike.” “This actually happened to me,” the L.A.-based singer, songwriter, and musician says.
“After my last relationship ended, I went to my ex’s Facebook page and found out that she was already dating somebody new, and this guy was basically my doppelganger — same haircut, same facial hair and style. And I thought, ‘You couldn’t have me, so you found the closest thing.’ Writing helps me emotionally vent in a safe environment, so of course I wrote a song about it.”
Releasing his first original songs is a thrilling moment that Poole has anticipated ever since he began pursuing music as a career right after high school. The son of an American entrepreneur father and Italian fashion designer mother, Poole is a dual Italian-American citizen who was raised between Tucson, Arizona, and Milan, Italy. “Italian was actually my first language, so I struggled a lot in school in Arizona,” he says. “I had an accent, was between languages, and was just very awkward.” His love for music came from his dad, a classic rock fan who put a guitar in young Stefan’s his hands at age 13. Poole also studied piano, violin, and drums, “which I loved, but playing drums meant always playing other people’s songs and I wanted to be part of the creative process.”
Poole stuck with guitar, began singing and writing songs at 17, and, after graduating from high school, moved to Los Angeles to attend Musicians Institute where he formed a funk-pop band that made the rounds of Hollywood clubs like The Roxy and House of Blues on Sunset. Poole got his first professional break when he was cast as a musician on the hit FOX series Glee. In between seasons, Poole went back to Italy to appear on a talent show called Amici. For the six weeks the show was on the air, Poole was a star. “I would walk down the street and get mobbed by people wanting to take pictures,” he recalls. “I’d pass by the newsstand and my face was on magazine covers. It felt like a dream. One moment nobody knew me, the next moment the whole country knew me. Then it all stopped when the next season started because there was a new cast.”
The fleeting fame messed with Poole’s head. “I was always focused on the music, so to have people talking about me for something other than that, and then to have it go away so fast, it was hard,” he says. “It was also bad timing because I didn’t have any music ready while the show was airing, so I didn’t capitalize on the moment.” In fact, Poole had recorded a bilingual album for Sony that wound up being shelved. Poole decided to move back to L.A. and rejoin the cast of Glee, but other setbacks followed, including a deal with an indie label that didn’t pan out, a painful break-up and health issues.
“At that point, I didn’t have the energy to make original music,” he says. “But I needed to pay my bills and I wanted to do it through music.” Poole became a touring musician, hitting the road with singer-songwriter Bridget Mendler, Andy Grammer and Jack & Jack, with whom he toured the U.S. this summer.
“My motivation and inspiration slowly began coming back,” he says. “Now I feel like I’m a bit wiser, a bit more experienced, and less naïve. “I’ve come to know myself more and have realized that as much as I love being on tour and playing for other artists, there’s still that itch of wanting to be a front man who sings my own songs. It’s like an addiction that connection I’ve experienced between myself and the audience — when they’re in the palm of my hand and we go on a ride together. There is no better feeling. I just want the audience to be able to experience the same joy.”
Check out the below music video for his newest single, “Lookalike.” The stunning futuristic visuals tell the story of an ended love affair that results in the replication of former lover. The video’s concept pairs perfectly with the electronic/pop sound that is bound to resonate with audience. It’s a sleek, danceable track that highlights STF’s impeccable vocals and skilled songwriting; it’s pure pop perfection. The energetically charged single touches on what it feels like when your ex-partner begins dating your doppelgänger.
Learn more about STF in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now?
Any time 🙂 This interview finds me at home recovering from a long night out celebrating my friends’ album release haha.
Now that 2019 has started, what musical goals do you have yourself this new year? Did you make any new year’s resolutions? Mine was to read more for fun!
My musical goals would be to release another music video, an EP and start touring. Yes I did! I gave up soda lol. Gotta cut down on the sugar, ya know?
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make? Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else?
Music was everything for me since I can remember, and that’s thanks to my family. My parents weren’t musicians per-se but music was such a central part of my home growing up. They raised me on a variety of musical greats and I’m so thankful. I definitely recall the moment I decided to be a musician. I was 8 or 9 in the living room of our house in Tucson, AZ and VH1 was on the TV. I vividly remember the music video for Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” coming on and being blown away. I knew that I wanted to become a professional musician from that moment. I wanted to affect someone the way I was affected watching that video. There were times I wanted to do other things like become a pro soccer player or an aeronautical engineer (I’m obsessed with science and space) but music just keeps pulling me back in.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
The biggest challenge being a freelance musician I’d say is learning how to manage your time and money. It’s so difficult to have a routine as a musician. Whether you get called for a tour, a session, a gig… when the call comes, you go! Some days you work 2 hours and others you work 12. Some months you work 31 days and others you work none. And your money comes in spurts and it’s often unpredictable. At times you get a check and think “I just won the lottery!” but you have to realize that your next job isn’t guaranteed. You have to get good at managing your resources. I guess the biggest surprise is that I love this lifestyle. In the long run, I have more time to spend with the people I love and doing things I’m passionate about.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today?
Well, I never really had just one hometown. We bounced around a lot. But Los Angeles where I live today and have been for 12 years has had the biggest influence on my music. There are so many different cultures here and every type of music you can find which has opened my ears and culminated in me being a lover of so many genres, which I in turn use in my own music.
What was the inspiration for your newest single, “Lookalike?” How would you say it compares to anything else you have previously released? How does it prepare listeners for your next full album which will be out later this year?
“Lookalike” was a true story about a girl that began dating my doppelgänger right after we broke up. I guess it’s different from anything else I’ve ever released because it’s a specific story, where as in the past I’ve been very vague, but I strive to be more vulnerable in my art these days. Sonically, it’s also more pop than anything I’ve released, but still with touches of funk and R&B. It should give listeners the heads up that I’m gonna be releasing more mainstream sounding music, but always with substance and heavy groove. That’s my favorite stuff.
What can you tell us about your video for “Lookalike?” What was it like making it? How creatively involved were you with the overall process?
The video is basically a sci-fi representation of my last big break up. Making it with director Andre LaDon was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Creatively, it was Andre and I all the way, but definitely more Andre because he is the visual master and that’s his medium. I respect his expertise and I always let him have free reign with his vision.
When do you hope to release more new music and a full collection of new songs?
I should be releasing another single with a music video at the end of March. Hopefully by summer, I can release an EP.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
Yes, I have to admit, it’s a little difficult… there are so many platforms now. I’d say Instagram is my favorite way to connect.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Michael Jackson and Prince will always be my biggest inspirations, but new artists.. I’d say John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke are my biggest influences. As for who I’d like to work with, I would die to collaborate with Ty Dolla Sign or Kehlani (huge crush).
If money and time were not issues, what would your dream music video look like?
It would be something mind boggling like the Jamiroquai music videos. Something simple but still irresistibly unexplainable and begs you to watch again and again.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you and why?
I would take a guitar because besides it being my strongest instrument, I could dress it up like a person and have a friend like Wilson in Castaway.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
Hands down Black Mirror. The way they incorporate music is genius!
What has been a favorite show of yours in the past? What do you think makes an ideal show for you? You have toured with so many incredible artists so I am curious what you have learned from all those experiences? Does one stand out the most to you?
There are several shows that I have ingrained in my psyche. One is when I played the NACA National Conference in St. Louis with my band Feelgood. We were playing to a room of about 5000 college kids, and they were really showing us love! After the show, we had a huge line of people wanting to meet us and talk about our music. It was the best feeling ever. Another show was when I was the guitarist for Bridgit Mendler and we played on Halloween. We all dressed up and rocked our costumes on stage (I was Mario and the drummer was Luigi). I also remember the feeling I had playing with Andy Grammer at Bullstock. I remember being on stage thinking “This is one of my favorite artists and I’m playing with him. OMG!” Absolutely unreal.
With Jack & Jack, there are 2 shows I’ll never forget… the first was when we played a sold out show in Milan, Italy where the majority of my family lives. I rarely get to perform for them, so it was such an emotional moment when the boys let me post all 20 of them up in the balcony to watch me rock out in front of a huge crowd in their city. I know they were proud and I couldn’t have been more elated. The 2nd Jack & Jack show that meant a lot to me was when we played the Marquee Theater in Tempe, AZ. This was a venue I grew up going to regularly to see my favorite bands as a kid, so it’s been a long time dream of mine to play the Marquee. When I stepped onto that stage, it felt like I had come full circle.
I guess what really makes an ideal show for me comes down to 2 things. The energy of the crowd and the connection with the other musicians on stage. Both have to be strong in order to have an unforgettable show.
Do you have any tour dates you would like to tell our readers about?
For my original music, I just have 1 show on the books at the moment which will be March 21st at The Sayers Club in Hollywood, CA.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? I’d like to know more about how you want your music to be timeless?
I hope my fans understand that my music is really my way of connecting to the world and I want them to come to shows and sing the songs with me. I want to create timeless music that will last for years to come and that has the power to transport people back to specific moments in their life, even for just a few minutes. That’s the real power of music.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I’m a people person. If you ever see me, come say hi!