LES REBELLES #004: Stefani Sikora

In the vast landscape of music, where genres blend and boundaries blur, emerges a rare talent who breathes new life into the world of dramatic rock. Meet Stefani Sikora, a singer-songwriter whose powerful vocals and poignant lyrics captivate audiences, drawing them into a whirlwind of emotion and intensity. With a flair for theatricality and a passion for storytelling, Stefani crafts songs that are not merely heard but experienced. Join us as we delve into the journey of this remarkable artist, exploring the inspirations, struggles, and triumphs that shape their unique sound and electrifying performances.

Can you tell us about your musical background? How did you get started in music? 

When I was 5, I was drawn to the upright piano in our house, constantly playing around on it. One day my Mom asked me, “Do you want to take piano lessons?” I said, “Sure!” Thus began my love affair with music. I had an amazing, fun piano teacher. She taught me to sightread, and then she let me learn whatever cool songs I wanted - the Jurassic Park score, James Bond theme songs, the entire Beatles library, anything that interested me.

Then I played the alto saxophone throughout middle school, and after one year of marching band my freshman year of high school, I decided that was not for me. So I joined the school choir my sophomore year, primarily to be in class with all of my friends, and I discovered a hidden talent - a powerful singing voice!
I am so grateful that my parents were always supportive in my creative endeavors, and I was fortunate to have many private instructors to guide me along my musical journey. I studied Musical Theatre and Jazz in college, with the hopes of moving to New York and starring on Broadway, but at the end of my senior year, I went with a pure gut feeling and decided to make the move from Oklahoma to Los Angeles instead. Since then, I’ve honed my songwriting skills and evolved as an artist. I recently learned to play the guitar so I could write my own Rock songs, and I feel like I’ve finally found my true calling as a Rock singer!
Who were your early musical influences, and how have they shaped your style?
I grew up hearing my parents’ Classic Rock. In the 90s, I was obsessed with Alternative, Grunge and Ska. During college I was immersed in the worlds of Musical Theatre and Jazz. I have studied so many songs across all genres, and that has added so much depth to my songwriting and given me the ability to write songs that each have their own unique identity. I love dramatic Rock - the way it makes you feel deeply and takes you on a journey. That is what I strive for with my music. Some of my current influences are Evanescence, Halestorm, In This Moment, The Warning, Black Sabbath, and Breaking Benjamin, with a touch of Joan Jett, The Pretty Reckless, Green Day, and Fall Out Boy.
What is your musical journey like? Can you share some milestones in your career?
When I recorded my debut album, THE SHINE, I had the opportunity to work with some incredible musicians, such as Steve Ferrone (drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Jon Button (current bass player for The Who), and many more.
The album was mixed by 8-time Grammy Award winning mixer Ignacio “Nacho” Molino in NYC, and it was mastered by Grammy and multi-platinum awarded mastering engineer Alex Psaroudakis. The album is a variety of Alternative songs themed from heartbreak, female empowerment, FU ex-boyfriend, a seductive heartfelt R&B track, to just riding high on life. Creating that album was a fun process and a huge learning experience. Since then, my sound has evolved into heavier, dramatic Rock, and this summer I’m back in the studio, recording songs for my second album!

I absolutely love performing onstage, where I allow myself to fully let go of my inhibitions and bring my music to life. I pour every ounce of my being into my performance, emotionally and physically. I had my first headlining show at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, CA earlier this year. I played electric guitar onstage for the first time, which was both terrifying and exhilarating. More performances are lined up for this year, and I’m excited!

One exciting show coming up this fall - I am opening for Cherie Currie (lead singer of The Runaways) on Friday, November 1st at the famous Whisky A Go Go on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, CA. I’m so stoked for that! Anyone in the LA area who is interested in attending can sign up for my mailing list on my website to be informed of how to buy tickets.

Our signature question at Les Belles - when do you feel most beautiful? 

I feel beautiful when I am creating my art - singing, playing guitar and; piano, writing, recording, rehearsing, and performing.

I feel beautiful when my body feels healthy, strong, and flexible. My body is my instrument, and it’s important that I take excellent care of it. I’m very active onstage, so I’m dedicated to working out consistently and fueling it with nourishing foods, to keep my body in excellent shape for the physical demands of my shows.

I feel beautiful when I’m wearing an outfit with a rebellious edge that accentuates my body perfectly - always lots of black, with something leather and awesome accessories!
Can you describe your songwriting process? Do you start with lyrics or music?

My best songs come to me from a magical, inspired place, out of the blue, usually when I’m in an almost meditative state while doing something else - in the shower, driving my car, going for a run by the beach, taking a walk in nature, etc. Songs tend to arrive in my mind as lyric and melody paired together. It might be a single phrase or several lines together. Whatever it is, I sing it to myself repeatedly until I can get to my phone and sing it into my Voice Memos app, so I don’t forget it. I keep adding to the lyrics and melody to flush out the structure of the song, then based on the vibe, I choose whether to write the accompanying music on the piano or guitar. For my new Rock songs, I’ve been writing more on the guitar, but I still write on the piano when the song demands it. I love mixing mystical, magical imagery with universal themes that listeners can easily identify with.
Can you share any advice for aspiring musicians?
Always keep learning and honing your craft. Study the work of artists you admire. Connect with like-minded people and be open to collaborations.
In-between working on my own music and performing, I work as a private vocal coach, guiding students of all ages to find their true voice, connect with their inner creativity, and use their instrument in a healthy, fun way. Even as a teacher, I am forever a student, constantly growing, expanding my musical knowledge, and evolving as an artist.
Most importantly, do what feels good to you, follow your own intuition, and stay true to your art. If you’re unsure of how to go about doing that, I highly recommend reading Rick Rubin’s book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being. It’s incredible, not only for musicians, but for anyone wanting to tap into their creative nature.
And lastly, perseverance is key. Let your love for music fuel your way forward, even when it feels like nothing is happening. Focus on creating your art, always. You never know what opportunity might be waiting around the corner…be ready.