STEFA*’s “Born with an Extra Rib” Influences Playlist

With their debut album out now, stefa marin alarcón shares a few favorite tracks by Empress Of, Santigold, Saul Williams, and more.

STEFA*’s Born with an Extra Rib Influences Playlist

With their debut album out now, stefa marin alarcón shares a few favorite tracks by Empress Of, Santigold, Saul Williams, and more.

Words: Mike LeSuer

Photo: viento izquierdo ugaz

July 09, 2024

At the heart of stefa marin alarcón’s debut album as STEFA* lies one simple question: “What myths do we inherit that keep us away from ourselves?” Based on the album’s title, Born with an Extra Rib, one can imagine that some of the answers the artist may have arrived at either stem directly from the inherent misogyny of the Old Testament creation story or the curdled sense of piousness the Christian Bible has arrived at in contemporary times, which finds itself in opposition to alarcón’s identity as a Columbian-American trans person. As they explain, with their Sepalina EP laying the emotional groundwork for the project, Extra Rib allows them to explore those emotions more deeply—whether it be a justified rage (see the album cover) or any other. 

Yet equally to thank for the new record’s elaborate set of emotion-based songwriting is an eclectic cast of peers and pioneering musicians who helped STEFA* shape those feelings into sound, while in some cases additionally providing them with the strength to continue on as an artist. From veteran Latin musicians like Rita Indiana and Héctor Lavoe to contemporary names in indie rock and pop such as Waxahatchee and Empress Of, the multimedia artist gave us a glimpse of some of the artists that made them feel like an “untouchable baddie” as Born with an Extra Rib was coming together.

Find their picks below, and stream the new LP here.

Waxahatchee, “I Think I Love You”
When I get obsessed with a song, I play it over and over until I know every breath, every beat. I love how vulnerable her voice is in this. She makes the song feel like a secret between two people. The feeling of intimacy this song creates inspired “Same Body.”

The Cranberries, “I Still Do”
Someone once told me my voice reminded them of Dolores O’Riodran, so I looked her up and was like OMG “Zombie,” of course! This song starts their debut album, and I love everything she does with her voice—the control and the freedom and the coolness is all so alluring to me. 

Santigold feat. Karen O, “GO!”
I love Santigold’s packed production. The electronic feel on the bass and percussion is so fun and energetic and feels almost political. The mix between Karen O and Santigold’s vocal effects make the song feel very devil-may-care. I wanted to capture this attitude on “3COSAS!” and throughout my album. 

Rita Indiana, “Como un Dragón!”
I love Rita Indiana's lyric choices throughout this song. The drums and the sound effects add a layer to this track that makes it all feel very cinematic. She calls herself a storyteller first and foremost, and you can feel that in the way she builds out the song with her voice. 

Bilal, “Bury Me Next to You” 
Bilal's voice and range is otherworldly. I love unique voices that carry and tell stories. Some of my favorite singers are storytellers. 

STEFA*, “negra más linda” 
I like when artists reference their own work and return back to it. “negra más linda” off my first EP inspired “negra, revisited” off my debut album. Both songs share the same lyrics about generational violence, displacement, and colonization, but are vastly different in feeling. I could make “negra, revisited” playful and menacing and angry in its delivery because I was able to process those themes with “negra más linda” with softness.

Empress Of, “Tristeza”
Listening to early Empress Of gave me the confidence to start writing my own music. I love how she effortlessly moves between English and Spanish and doesn't try to sound like anyone but herself, which feels so rare these days! 

Bobby Sanchez, “t4t(4s)”
I had to include one of my favorite trans anthems in this playlist. I wrote my album throughout many moments of transition in the last few years, and being able to finally share my journey with other trans people feels so sacred. Playing Bobby Sanchez makes me feel like an untouchable baddie. 

Saul Williams, “Surrender (A Second to Think)” 
I heard Saul Williams speak before I read his poetry or heard his music and I immediately thought to myself, “I need to know everything about this artist!” His poetry, his music, his performances, his voice—they all amaze me. He's never shied away from speaking truth to power, and I admire him greatly as a multi-disciplinary artist. 

Héctor Lavoe, “El Cantante” 
It wouldn't be a STEFA* influences playlist without my king, Hector Lavoe. Lavoe means “the voice!” Hector sings about the role of artists and care throughout this song. I'll never forget having a fever at a show I was playing, performing my ass off, only to then go home alone in a cab feeling absolutely wrecked. Who takes care of artists after we give so much? I've thought a lot about perseverance and “being strong” while making Born with an Extra Rib. Really, I just want all the “strong” ones to rest!