She goes by STEF

She goes by STEF

SU sophomore Stephanie Weisz draws on her family history in her original music.
Published: February 3, 2020

Stephanie “STEF” Weisz doesn’t want to be the next Z100 artist. Her goal isn’t fame. Her goal isn’t fortune. As a singer/songwriter, STEF wants to be an authentic artist whose voice sets her apart from those on the radio.

At age five, STEF began performing. She exited the shower singing Kelly Clarkson songs she heard on the radio. The day she learned to talk, STEF started singing, and she never stopped. Today, she is a sophomore at Syracuse University where she is following her passion of songwriting and performing.

STEF’s journey to songwriting began with her love for poetry. She remembers writing childish poems in the first grade, which led to her singing. STEF was born into a family of performers: her mother is a singer and her father is a bassist.

“For me writing is more of self-expression,” STEF said. “I’m a very emotional human, and I feel like that’s why I write a lot of sad songs.”

While other students are taking notes in class, STEF is jotting down song lyrics. Finding inspiration in her day to day life, STEF said she is most inspired when she is sad or angry about the state of the world or people being fake.

“Noose,” one of STEF’s three EPs available on iTunes and Spotify, was inspired by her friends’ and sister’s toxic relationships. She watched as they all stayed in their relationships because they were in love.

“That was women empowerment or human empowerment,” STEF said. “If someone treats you like shit, drop them. I really value independence and being who you are and not relying on someone else especially when the don’t treat you the way you’re supposed to be treated.”

Rachel Price, STEF’s freshman year roommate and close friend, recalls meeting STEF for the first time before school began. “She sang for me and her friends, and it was insane,” Rachel said. “I had no idea she was even into singing.” From that day on, Rachel would get a behind the scenes look at STEF’s songwriting process.

“Freshman year, she was always singing and playing her guitar in our room. Everyone around her could see that she had a real passion for what she does. She has been writing songs for so long. She’s an amazing singer, but I think songwriting is her biggest talent.”

STEF describes her songwriting process as “all over the place.” Most of the times she plays chord progressions on the piano or the guitar and starts singing random words that come to mind. Sometimes, she said, she is triggered by something and jumps to the piano to start singing.

“Part of being an artist is that there is a very big lack of structure in my life in all facets,” she said.

Her new song, “What is this World” is an example of this process. “I was looking out the window staring at Ernie [Davis dining hall] thinking about how everyone’s fake, and I was all pissed off and that triggered that song,” STEF said.

The biggest inspiration behind STEF’s music is her grandma “Bubbe’s” journey through the Holocaust.

Bubbe’s mother was a poet and singer at their local home theater in Poland, and her sister was also a singer, STEF said. The book One Step Ahead is about how Bubbe’s family was always one step ahead of Hitler, running away for six years.

“There’s literally no reason why I should be alive today because bombs were going off in front of them, behind them,” STEF said. “Miracle after miracle happened to allow them all to be alive.”

Singer-songwriter Stephanie Weisz who goes by

STEF’s great grandma and great aunt were unable to pursue music at the time because they were focusing on survival, she said. Her great aunt was supposed to go to Russia on scholarship for music, which was a big deal because they had no money at the time, STEF said.

Like STEF’s Bubbe, STEF’s grandpa had a journey of his own. He was put in line to be burned and killed with his mom and sister, but he switched out of line with his dad to go to Auschwitz, Stef said. Dr. Mengele, “the evil doctor who was next in line behind Hitler,” watched STEF’s grandpa switch lines and did not say anything, she said.

Because her ancestors were unable to follow their musical passions, STEF believes it is her obligation to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter.

“I have their voice,” STEF said, “and I genuinely believe I am alive today not only to share their story but to share music which has really just been an integral part of our whole lives and my history.”

STEF does not let school get in the way of sharing her family’s story through music, although it is challenging to balance it all. STEF is currently studying television, radio and film in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, but she hopes to transfer to another university where she can study songwriting or music business, which she is more passionate about.

STEF would like to be in New York City or Los Angeles for college, so she can play bigger gigs that are not just in off-campus houses, she said. Although playing in off-campus houses have given her confidence, STEF wonders “what’s the next step?”

While figuring out her plans for transferring, STEF continues songwriting, and she plays gigs when she can.

In the next five years, STEF said she wants to play bigger venues, write more songs, release her first album and go on tour.

“Music has touched me in such a way that I listen to certain songs and they just genuinely impact me,” STEF said. “I want to be that person for somebody else.”