Stephanie Rice Writes Her Own Story
Pride month is a time to celebrate our LGBTQ+ sisters, brothers, and everything in between, but to also recognize the fight they have had to, and continue to, overcome. In my completely unbiased opinion, the LGBTQ+ community is one of the most amazing groups of people. No matter what is thrown at them they continue to shine, literally and figuratively, and Stephanie Rice is no exception. Despite coming from a very religious family who couldn’t accept her for all that she is, she is taking on the world by storm. Music was always her first love, but she has also tackled the science field, putting out important AIDS research, has been on The Voice, and her new single “Pages” is just beautiful. To learn more about this passionate creative woman, please read our exclusive interview below.
You make beautiful powerful music. Where are you from and where are you based now?
Thank you! I’m from Redwater, TX - a super small town of about 800 people. It’s right outside of Texarkana, if you’ve ever heard of that. I moved to Houston, TX for college and that’s where I ended up starting my band, but I’ve recently moved to Los Angeles.
You grew up as a daughter of a fundamentalist preacher. How did that influence you growing up?
It influenced every facet of my being. I thought the world was a very black and white place - everything was good vs evil - and I thought our spirits were constantly at war and that Satan was battling Jesus for our souls. The first song I wrote at 8 was a ‘secular’ song - meaning it wasn’t about God, and my parents expressed their disapproval - so I started adding in Christian words so that I would be allowed to continue to play, write and sing.
Can you please tell us what happened when you came out to your family?
I’m a pretty open book about it all. I’ve met so many people who thought the awful things they experienced behind closed doors were unique to them. I’ve found a lot of healing and connection in realizing that these stories are more shared than we think. The first time I got caught with a girl at 17 was an absolute horrific disintegration of everything that I knew. I was counseled, yelled at, not allowed to give my salutatorian speech as I was not ‘worthy of recognition.’ I ran back into the closet only to come out about a year later. I was terrified when I came out, and what I feared would happen did happen. I was dropped off at my community college and was told I was history by my parents.
How do you feel this influenced your music?
I always expressed myself through music, since I can remember. When I came out, I truly experienced what it was like to sing through the pain and turn something gut wrenching into something that made me feel a little less broken.
Jejune’s Editor in Chief also comes from a science background, and knows the split life of science and art well. What made you decide to go into biology?
That’s so bad ass! I’ve always loved science. The subject of biology really stuck with me in high school. After I was kicked out, I had absolute freedom of choosing what I wanted to major in. It was during a time that I was very confused about everything that was happening around me, and biology literally means the ‘study of life.’ I wanted to know everything that I could about it - the mechanisms, our evolutionary history, how it is that we came to be and what it literally meant to be alive.
How did your very religious family respond to you studying science and doing AIDs research?
I was taught from a young age that a lot of science was from ‘the devil.’ That evolution wasn’t real - just a conspiracy that scientists were teaching to distract us from our faith. I haven’t had a relationship with my parents since I was kicked out, so I don’t know what they think about me studying science or doing AIDs research. I do know that my brothers are very proud of me though.
Did you always love both music and science?
Always! When I was kicked out, I didn’t feel safe or secure at all. I had no ’safety net’ and although music was my passion, I was also very intellectual and needed to feel like I was investing my time into something that I knew would provide some sort of financial security. Since science was so interesting to me, it didn’t feel like a ‘back-up plan’; it just felt like I was pursuing two things at once of which I both loved.
Normally, after releasing ones research, one is more interested than ever to do science. However, this is when you decided to officially switch to music. What made you decide to make that final step?
For me, getting published was, in a lot of ways, symbolic of reaching a certain point in my career where I felt like my hard work had all paid off. I didn’t want to leave science until I had ‘left my mark,’ so to speak. I put myself through college, got the job in the medical center all on my own, knew no one there and worked my ass off. I was very proud of what I had accomplished and it felt like the perfect moment to allow myself to pursue music whole-heartedly. I wasn’t able to focus on music working 60 hours a week. I was doing a good job of balancing, but I wanted to give myself the opportunity to really go for it. Right after I quit, I made it onto The Voice, and that was a big validation of my choice to leave science.
How do you feel you help/reach people with your music?
I think I just tell honest stories and people see themselves in them.
Can you tell us a little about your latest single “Pages”, and what it means to you?
‘Pages’ is my life story, and it’s symbolic of not only being empowered to write my own, but to also turn the page of trauma and abuse and step into a different kind of theme.
It looks like you have been working with your brother on your recent musical projects! Were you able to mend things with your family?
My brother has always loved me, even when things were strained. He was off in the military when I came out and we didn’t grow up super close because we didn’t have a normal upbringing. Since moving out here to LA, it feels like a second chance at having a brother/sister relationship. We’ve always talked about making music together, since I was a teenager, and now we’re both in a place where we can more realistically make that happen. I’m very proud of him and all that he’s accomplished in his life and career.
How is it working with your brother?
He’s my favorite person to work with! I can be open and honest. He’s the most talented engineer and producer that I’ve ever worked with. I love his instinct, style, and I’ve always thought his approach to music is very similar to mine. It’s just a lot of fun, and feels very special to make art with him.
Do you have any advice for a kid living in a very religious family who wants to come out?
Find people who love and support you - people outside of your family that love you no matter what - and build yourself and your self-worth up in that community. Don’t go at it alone. Having just one friend that gives you unconditional love is life-changing.
What is your motto in life?
Believe in your fucking self.
To learn more about Stephanie Rice, please follow her via the following platforms: www.stephaniericemusic.com
“Pages” Lyric Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5z1ebn7y_w
“Pages” on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/13mk6H5hkaPBSXWFc8riaC
All Photos are courtesy of Stephanie Rice.