Genevieve Stokes takes us deep into her musical rabbit hole of ethereal dreams and alt-pop perfection with the release of her latest EP Catching Rabbits. An Alice in Wonderland-inspired reflection of inner-child work, the singer gives us a 6-song glimpse into her personal looking glass; a deep exploration of self-love, healing, and peace. If Stokes is our modern-day Alice, it’s obvious we’ve entered her sonic world or wonder.
The fairytale project comes following 2021’s Swimming Lessons, a wildly compelling debut from the songstress solidifying her skillset as a maestro of dream pop. In the two years ahead of Catching Rabbits, Stokes would quickly find herself on the precipice of a massive leap into singer-songwriter stardom. A bout of virality would soon bring over 54 million streams globally to standout single “Habits”, and suddenly there has never been a greater gap in music sublimely shaped for Stokes to fill.
Out now on all platforms, Catching Rabbits is not only the rightful new home for “Habits,” but five additional tracks that bring Stokes’ airy, piano-driven sound to stellar new heights. By track six, we’re in her whimsical dreamscape through and through; moreover, we can’t help but attempt to connect each musical choice to Lewis Carroll’s iconic story itself. Perhaps it was six tracks selected to mirror Alice’s dialogue: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Truth or coincidence, Stokes’ music goes beyond your speakers–she created an immersive environment with resonant themes leaving you restlessly thinking of her imaginative worldbuilding for days.
With a euphonic tapestry woven by threads of our singer-songwriter fantasies, EUPHORIA. unravels Catching Rabbits alongside the 21-year-old NOLA-based starlet below.
Let’s kick off with Genevieve 101. Give me the elevator pitch for Catching Rabbits! Where did it come from? Why is it important for you to release it now?
I wrote Catching Rabbits over the span of two years while I was recording and releasing Swimming Lessons. I had just come out of a pretty dark time in my life and I was starting to see hope in my reality again. Things started to feel like they were coming into place in a much more positive way. I think there was this reintegration of my childhood self with who I am now that was happening. A lot of the songs are about revisiting childhood and that ‘fairytale’ creativity that you have when you’re little, but with a darker, more eerie outlook on it. I grew up in Maine and a lot of the songs I wrote in my garage there, so there’s this feeling of being in my childhood home with all of these new experiences, trying to process growing up, and not being a teenager anymore.
I love the idea of looking into your inner child. With much of this project so rooted in themes around growth and nostalgia, I’m wondering what you think the younger version of you would get from listening to Catching Rabbits? What do you think the EP would say to little Genevieve?
I think that it really speaks to my childhood self. I think I would be really proud of making this. It also feels like this sort of comforting project where I can retain that feeling of hope and excitement, but also protect myself from the outside world and maintain an innocence while growing up and becoming an adult. I think for a while I didn’t trust myself and I didn’t trust my own core beliefs and who I was as a person, but this EP has been about creating a barrier and allowing myself to feel vulnerable within my music and feel safe being vulnerable again. So I think I’d be proud and it’s awesome.
That’s totally awesome, and people already really resonate with your openness and vulnerability. Your track “Habits” has over 50 million streams on Spotify alone! I want to touch on that for a second–what was it about that song that made it so infectious? For people who may have heard it before jumping into Catching Rabbits, would you say it has any similar qualities?
It was such a moment. It was the demo of “Habits” that went viral and it was so unexpected. I posted a clip of that part of the song with a video of the moon or something and it just randomly took off. It was really unexpected and also kind of scary. I wasn’t sure if people were going to resonate with the actual song because the demo is so different; it’s just piano and vocals.
It’s actually funny because after I wrote most of the song and was recording a demo to send to Atlantic [Records]. I was like, ‘I need another section of the song. It doesn’t feel complete yet.’ That’s when I wrote the little piece that went viral on TikTok, so it’s actually something that I added on right at the end of the writing process.
I remember showing it to my sister and asking her, ‘Is this kind of corny? I can’t tell.’ And she was like, ‘No, I love that!’ I think it was just a super vulnerable part of the song and it really spoke to people in push-and-pull relationships. I have a lot of other songs that explore similar topics so I hope that people discover those and have the same feeling about them.
Catching Rabbits comes following your previous project Swimming Lessons that we touched on earlier, and one question I wanted to ask was how you think you’ve developed between the two. Maybe sonically, personally, or mentally, what do you think is the link between these bodies of work?
I’ve really explored songwriting, getting more specific, and really speaking from the heart. A lot of the songs from Swimming Lessons I wrote in high school. I didn’t play it safe necessarily, but I think I did keep it a little bit more surface-level. I was younger and I wasn’t really wanting to explore that in my music yet. Swimming Lessons, probably, would be proud of the growth that I’ve experienced and how much more vulnerable I’ve gotten in my music.
Also, I grew up playing piano and singing, so most of my songs were just keys and vocals. I think there’s this returning back to an even earlier version of myself in some ways. It’s like a deeper exploration, but also peeling back layers at the same time.
Absolutely! Listening to Catching Rabbits and Swimming Lessons back to back, you can literally hear layers being pulled back. By that same token, I couldn’t help but wonder about the physical production of Swimming Lessons. I know that project in particular was made super close to where you were from in Maine, so I couldn’t help but wonder if it was creating those songs that unlocked the inner-child exploration you did for Catching Rabbits? Were they thematically tied in that sense at all?
Definitely think so! I think at the time recording was so new to me and it really opened up so many new perspectives. I was like, ‘Oh wow, I can do anything. I can write differently if I have different production in mind or different things that I want to do.’ It allowed me to really broaden creatively and expand what I’m capable of doing.
Also recording in Maine gave me a new appreciation for growing up there, especially because I was so insular at that point and I had really known nothing but Maine. Then when I started releasing music people were like, ‘Wow, this is different.’ You can really feel that it’s from a place outside of New York or L.A. The influences are different. I think for Catching Rabbits, I wanted to maintain that feeling of being home and what it feels like to live in Maine, but also bring in new elements.
I recorded a lot of [Catching Rabbits] in L.A. with Tony Berg, so that was a very different experience. Maintaining that core was really important to me tough. I look back and it’s so clear that I was this product of my environment. I still am, but there are all these new influences and things that I’ve done.
I’m so glad you brought up Tony Berg! How amazing to have someone who’s worked on music for Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, and Paul McCartney produce tracks for you.
It was insane! Honestly, I’m still kind of processing it.
Totally! And you can totally feel that ‘homegrown’ vibe you’ve been talking about. It feels super personal and that’s such a powerful tool in music. Aside from being a journey exploring your inner child, Catching Rabbits was also very much a healing mental health journey for you. From that perspective, it makes listening to the EP that much more meaningful. What would you say to someone who may be struggling with similar issues? What will Catching Rabbits bring to them?
I hope it brings them peace because I think for a while I was chasing this idea of who I could be and really freaking out about not living up to my own potential. There’s a lot in the present moment that you can be grateful for.
In the songs, there’s a lot about mental health struggles and really getting trapped in my mind. I have a lot of obsessive thought patterns and so I explore that. I think I balanced it all out with more calming music because there’s always this undercurrent of, ‘It’s all going to be okay.’ There’s this stillness that you can access, even in those moments when you feel like you’re freaking out. I wrote those songs to comfort myself so I hope it helps other people.
For anyone who may be unfamiliar with your music, I want to talk about the influence other artists have had on you. From Regina Spektor to Fiona Apple, what do you want to take from singers you love to elevate your own music?
I’ve actually been thinking about that a lot recently because I have a lot of different inspirations and people that I love. I think the one common thing that they have is a core sense of themselves. No matter how different, you can feel this passion with them. Fiona Apple, she has such a clear style. Same with Regina Spektor, and Mac Miller is another one. All of my favorite musicians are just so authentically themselves–and that’s the best part of it. It doesn’t matter what they’re saying or what they’re doing, you can feel it’s coming from their heart. It’s like a little piece of their soul you can hear.
Do you have a special place in mind where people should listen to Catching Rabbits? To best reflect you as an artist?
Probably driving alone in your car. That’s my favorite way to listen to music. I’m actually home right now! So I’ll get Dunkin’, go on a long drive, and sit by the water. That’s how I would love for people to listen if they can.
And when people finish listening to the EP what do you want them to walk away with?
Just to wake. Remain hopeful for their own future and what they want to do with their lives. I know it’s really difficult to have faith in yourself. When I listen to Mac Miller’s music or Frank Ocean’s music, there’s this hope about life and a sense of peace. An ‘If these people are doing what they want to do, I could do what I want to do,’ type of feeling. Whatever they want to take from [Catching Rabbits], I hope they can.
I think it’s amazing when music is open in that sense and you can take what you need from it.
And for me personally, that’s what I want to take from music. Songs are just so open to interpretation. There are some people that are going through breakups or some people that are going through mental health crises. Each person has a different thing they want to take from music. I like opening it up to that and having a bunch of different interpretations because I think it’s important to process whatever you’re going through. So I hope it just helps in any way.
I love that. I think it’s also important to note Catching Rabbits is largely rooted in the story of Alice in Wonderland, again referencing that childlike state. Why is that idea so important?
I wrote a lot of these songs with an elevated universe in mind. I see this project as the beginning of a fairytale or the beginning of a story.
And Stokes is only writing the earliest chapter of her musical legacy. Catching Rabbits is now available everywhere.