Stanaj is signed to Lava Records, which is part of the Republic Records/Universal Music Group family. The Knockturnal was on the scene for his first New York showcase at LES hotspot The Box. Hailing from Albania, but born and raised in New York city, at only 20 years old, he’s making waves in the music industry.
“For those of you who haven’t seen the big billboards in the front with my name on it, my name is Stanaj.”
There aren’t many ways to describe it but a mood was in the air. It’s a very anxious feeling, watching someone who’s about to blow up, even a little scary. Sort of like constantly going up on a roller coaster, you can see the talent and see where they’re headed, everyone in the room feels the person they’re watching is about to big. Everyone around you, in the room can see the talent and where they’re headed. It’s a hell of a feeling.
That was exactly my feeling when I stepped into The Box on the Lower East Side for an exclusive showcase introducing Lava records newest recording artist. Stanaj performed his whole EP, The Preview, which charted number 6 on Apple Music. A dark room lit up only by dim red lights, and night time club ambience that allowed you to just slightly make-out people’s faces, perfectly fit the sultry, slow riffs of the first single he performed, “Goddess” I found myself in a euphoric-slow bounce.
From the first song, his authenticity shined through. Just pure talent, no gimmicks. Judging by the raw emotion and passion in his voice when he sings, it’s no secret he let’s his music create the buzz for him.
After his performance he joked to the crowd, “I want to start off the show by saying thank you so much to everyone who’s here. You know I’m not like a lot of other artists. I’m not like one of those artsy-fartsy artists, you know, ‘oh this music is talking to me.’ You know I keep it straight up 150%. From the bottom of my heart from everyone who works on this project to new listeners, if you guys are all about the Stanaj movement, then thank you so much. So that song was ‘Goddess,’ that song was pretty sick right? I wrote that with Dana and Andrew. We did that out in California and it’s a basic love story of me falling in love with an Alien, just kidding I’m not like one of those artists. You know it really is when you find someone where you just don’t know what the hell is happening and you’re just like he or she is on a different planet and she takes you there that’s what ‘Goddess’ is all about.Thank you guys.”
His next track, “Romantic,” is probably my favorite song on the EP. It is the perfect summer time love song. The high-notes will definitely have you in your feelings. He explains the vision behind the song a little bit to the crowd: “So ‘Romantic’ pretty plain and simple, you’re in love with someone and you’re like holy sh-t, you just start doing weird sh-t. She just makes you want to do crazy things and that what’s that songs about. I found myself acting different, just trying to stay impressing (laughs) but I thought I could sing to her … it didn’t work, sike (laughs)”
It’s clear he’s a family man with a sense of humor. At one point in-between songs he cracks the audience up with a shout out to his mother, “So I got my family here tonight, so quick shout out to the family. I see my mom. Where’s my momma?! I came out of that woman. She’s the best!”
“Next song is hard to say my favorite, because I really love all of them so much. This is ‘Ain’t Love Strange.’ Fredro’s in here somewhere. Fredro and Sebastian Kole wrote this song here in New York and I was in London but the second I heard the track I instantly fell in love with the track.” The slow guitar lead in is hypnotizing, with a chorus that sounds liberating and just makes you want to let loose and dance as crazy as you feel.
We were then treated to another exclusive treat. “This next song is ‘Meant To Be,’ this is not a song on the EP but I just thought I’d share it with you guys tonight because I wrote it in England with Fraser T. Smith. I really love the record they didn’t have it in time for the EP, so you guys get the ill sneak peek.” “Meant To Be” was definitely a great surprise. It was slow, calming and sweet, yet you could hear moments of pain come through it, in essence it made you feel nostalgic.
He closed the night with a very upbeat, fast tempo song. “This is the last song of the night. This is ‘Sleep Alone.’ ‘Sleep Alone’ is a dope f–king song and it’s not me coming off as cocky or anything like that, I just love what I do. I love my music so it’s not wrong to love, you know, if you’re passionate about something and you love doing it, and I love this sh-t. So this body of work this is me, you guys get all of me.”