Elegant Downtempo Soul

Music is big, but it’s not big enough for Stephon Dorsey. The 24-year-old Detroit native relocated in Seattle three years ago, trading his studies at the University of Michigan School of Music for a one-way ticket to a place he’d never seen. He arrived to a vibrant city—“I remember my first day thinking, damn this city is so expressive! You can see the vibes radiating out of everything!”—and a robust creative community, courtesy of a close friend studying at Cornish College of the Arts. Since then, Dorsey’s been engaged in an ongoing multimedia project under the name Goodsteph. Mela.nin, as he’s come to title it, comprises poetry, prose, photography, video and interviews with “the Mela.nin Éclat,” a crew of young African Americans who candidly answer the question, “How do you feel your skin tone/complexion has affected your experience as a human being?”

And there’s music. Dorsey’s elegant, entrancing, downtempo soul thumps and hums with the restless energy of a gifted, inquisitive mind as he recounts moments of his life, affirmations and realizations unspooling like an incantation. After playing a handful of shows around town in 2016, he released the complete musical component of Mela.nin online in December with an introduction: “15 tracks inspired by the wilderness inside and outside of me.” “It took me my whole life to get to that point,” Dorsey says about finally letting go of his self-produced, self-recorded material. “But I was able to put some sort of mark on who Goodsteph is. Who Stephon Dorsey is. And it’s still incomplete in some ways because there’s so much I wish I could’ve put into it, so much I wish I could’ve said. But that’s what next times are for.”

Photo by Goodsteph & Ken Cowan

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