Steinbrink shrugs it off: "I think a song's worth has to be based on how genuine or sincere you are. Which is why I don't feel too embarrassed about that last record. I feel that as 'whiny' as some of those songs were, I was being totally honest. Those were concerns I was worrying about and obsessing over. For a reviewer to make a judgment on what I do is kind of frustrating, but, I don't know who said it, 'You can't argue with a critic.'"

Perhaps the most consistently fascinating aspect of Steinbrink's work is the way his songs are constantly evolving. During Steinbrink's live performances, it sometimes takes a few minutes before a song becomes recognizable. When backed by a full band, his songs can take on an epic, Neil Young-like quality. Other performances may find him fashioning the songs into Arthur Russell-style minimalist disco. "I usually write songs at my eight-track," Steinbrink says. "The first, recorded version of [songs are] usually made as I write [them]. And those end up on the records." From there, the songs are subject to constant re-imagining and re-contextualization. "Lately, I've felt very uncomfortable playing any of my "negative" songs, and I'm really interested in moving them to a more positive place."

When asked if he feels that creating art in Phoenix has had any impact on his songwriting, he smiles. "I think that there's this really interesting thing going on in Phoenix. There's no central 'scene,' so you end up with all these different people playing every style of music imaginable." Steinbrink's music often reflects such a hodgepodge while maintaining a singularity and quality undisturbed by prevailing trends.

Stephen Steinbrink hides behind the name French Quarter.
Courtesy of Stephen Steinbrink
Stephen Steinbrink hides behind the name French Quarter.


French Quarter is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, September 29.
Ye Olde Bike Saviours House in Tempe

"I love that people in Phoenix seem to really seek out the great things going on here. They seem to want to squeeze every last possible drop of goodness from the city."

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Brittany Gould
Brittany Gould

really, stephen steinbrink is so incredible! i am so amazed! everything he does turns to gold!

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