written by: Ashley Szanter
photos and video by: Natalie Simpson
Stephanie Mabey’s fame came on slowly and over an extended period of time. Her’s is an uncommon story in a time when internet fame often comes on quickly and unexpectedly. Known online for her two singles, “The Zombie Song” and “Glorious,” Mabey has been writing music since the tender age of 14.
“I always embraced the idea of being a songwriter, but never thought of myself as an artist because it didn’t feel safe,” she says.
Mabey started using music to make sense of a world in which she saw herself as an outcast. “I felt really alienated as a kid, so that’s why these outsider characters really resonate with me,” she says. And what character could be more of an outsider than a zombie? “I saw my little brothers playing Left 4 Dead, and they were so into it. Just that, juxtaposed with [the popularity of] Twilight, and then picking up The Zombie Survival Guide, it just solidified it for me,” she says.
“The Zombie Song,” released in 2009, now has almost 6 million views, with a remixed version of the song sitting at just over 16 million. But her real taste of worldwide success came with David Archuleta’s cover of her original song, “Glorious.” The LDS Church solicited original tunes from songwriters of different faith backgrounds and used Archuleta’s “Glorious” cover to promote its 2014 documentary Meet the Mormons.
Mabey didn’t intend for the song to have religious undertones, but it never bothered her to have the Mormon Church use it. “What matters to me is that people can take something from what I write. What that is doesn’t matter, and it can mean something different to everyone who hears it,” says Mabey. “David has a beautiful voice, and his delivery of the song is gorgeous.”
Mabey’s music deviates from a lot of the indie and folk sounds dominating Utah’s music scene. While describing her music as “haunted pop,” she avoids focusing on having a specific sound. “Having ‘The Zombie Song’ and ‘Glorious’ as my most well known songs represents the wide range of music I work in,” she says. Though she is finding more time for self-promotion, Mabey doesn’t want to corner herself into a niche. “I’m more interested in asking, ‘did I create something that can help someone?’”
For now, Mabey is focused on releasing a series of new singles rather than an album. “I’m more interested in releasing a song as soon as its finished. I like sharing my music with people as soon as I can,” she says. Her newest single, “Stop Motion,” dropped January 1 and features a completely animated music video.
As to where her career’s going: “I don’t have an endgame as far as what it means for me to be an artist. I feel like I keep putting effort into moving forward and showing up in the best way that I can.” You can find Mabey’s music on Youtube and Spotify or on stephaniemabey.com.
Where can you find it?
Most of Mabey’s music ends up accompanying other media. “A lot of what I do has been based on TV and film placements or more in an online space,” she says. Besides her viral hits, you can find her music on HBO’s The Leftovers and the Overwatch short “Rise and Shine,” which got over 5 million views its first day. saltlakemagazine.com/small-lake