The cliques of high school can put students into boxes.
Making people feel that they have to censor themselves to appease others.
For freshman songwriter Alden Stephens, coming to Belmont has helped her break out of those confines.
Moving from a small town in Mississippi, Nashville has given Stephens the chance to collaborate with other artists and learn from them.
Stephens first picked up a guitar because her sister started playing.
“I was the music kid at school. I was the kid who played the banjo at the talent show, and there are other groups like that - and here everyone is a music kid,” she said.
Starting with joke songs with her friends, Stephens began to write with more intent, following a major change in her life.
“My first serious song was about my dad getting cancer and kind of getting past that,” she said.
Her songwriting turned into an emotion-based practice where Stephens found her groove.
She describes her writing process as sitting with her guitar and letting her emotions guide her songwriting.
Stephens enjoys playing around with different styles of music.
Her song “Polaroids” follows an indie-folk sound while “We’re Not Bonnie and Clyde” has more of a disco-pop sound, she said.
The idea for the song came from the title’s namesake: Bonnie and Clyde.
“I like that concept. Being perfect for each other in the worst way possible, twisting it to think, ‘What if I want to get out of this? What if I don’t want to be Bonnie?’ But you’re Clyde,” she said.
The song “Polaroids,” started with Stephens sitting on her couch in and glancing at a pair of old shoes on the floor.
How many miles have they been through? Where have they been? The shoes prompted her to think about where she has been and where she wants to go, Stephens said.
“Life is shaped by our footfalls, but we don’t need to hold ourselves to our own experiences when writing,” Stephens said.
Her production process has recently shifted from personal storytelling to sharing others’ stories.
With all the people in the world, she said, she wants to be able to connect to others’ experiences - even if she doesn’t have similar ones.
Going forward in her career Alden Stephens wants to work one day at a time.
“I would like to get more into performing live and working with other people, whether that’s co-writing or talking to people in the industry,” she said.
Alden Stephens’ Belmont Vision Office Concert will release on Friday. Stay tuned to @belmont.vision on Instagram for updates.
This article was written by Ben Burton