You know how sage cleanses your surrounding space of negative energy when you light it? Well, that's sort of what Stephen Wrabel's music does, but for your mind, body, and soul.
Wrabel (who goes by just his last name in the music world) hasn't yet dropped a full-length debut album, but you've definitely heard his work before. And what makes this artist so special — in addition to his energetic singles, addictive beats, and vocal advocacy for the LGBTQ community — is his dedication to connecting with people at all times. In a new video, debuting exclusive on Refinery29, Wrabel takes on Washington Square Park to ask Sunday afternoon strollers what in their lives is beautiful to them. The question springs from the title and topic of his latest EP and eponymous single, We Could Be Beautiful. In addition to igniting brief and heartwarming conversations with random passerby, Wrabel also plays the song on a piano in the middle of the park, giving the small audience an intimate and raw performance to remember. The performance is quite different than the version of the song one would hear if they streamed it online, but that was the intention.
"We wanted to put the song in a different setting," he told R29 over the phone from Los Angeles one recent afternoon. "I like things to be simple, so we wanted to present it [the song] in that original form, and doing outside in New York City on just a Sunday park day was really cool."
Much like his other stand-out track, "11 Blocks," which received a golden endorsement from his friend and collaborator, Kesha (more on that later), "We Could Be Beautiful" is inspired by a previous partner of Wrabel's, although, he says, singing it now in 2017, years after the relationship ended, the song has a totally different meaning to him. "I thought it was a beautiful thing to get to talk to people," he said of the conversations he experienced in the park. "The question we were asking everyone was “What do you found beautiful?” and “What does that word mean to you?” and “What in your life is beautiful?” It was really cool also because I wrote song with a very specific thing in mind about this relationship I was in where I was telling him, "Hey, it’s not that bad out there bud.""
When he isn't performing for a lucky unknowing crowd, the singer is writing in the studio, often times with Kesha, whom he met three years ago while — you guessed it — they were writing in the studio together. The two have "written a bunch" of things together, and he hopes that she is able to share her music with fans soon. "I hope with all my heart that she gets music out there on her end," he told us. "This sounds so cliche, but I think the world has not heard her like they are gonna."
He continued: "She is very inspiring as a friend and she has become my sister in all this stuff. But we have been doing a bunch of writing. You kind of never know where what is going to go where. The biggest thing I am struck by is that she has no fear and no ego. She just comes in and she will commit to an idea 7,000%. I’m always so insecure and scared like, “Well I had this idea that could maybe work.” And she comes in and is like “Check this out.” I’m like “Whoa!” She is not afraid to say stuff. It is very inspiring."
Inspiring just seems to be Wrabel's brand.
Watch the full video below, exclusively on Refinery29.
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