Margaret Stutt knows firsthand the truly miraculous healing power of music. Under the guise of Pezzettino, the Oakland-based musician has been using it as a conduit for the betterment of her own mental wellbeing as well as a vehicle to provide comfort for those facing their own internal struggles. Blending piano-pop introspection, indie rock tenacity and folk honesty, she creates a sound as emotionally authentic as it is captivating.
Growing up in Racine, Wisconsin, she was classically trained on piano before flirting with convent life — that came to an end, however, when she applied for a drummer position in a band through Craigslist even though she didn’t know how to play the drums. Her time with the band quickly ended, although she did learn to play the accordion in her short tenure with them.
She would go on to release her debut record, Because I Have No Control…, in 2008, which she recorded through her laptop with a cheap microphone. The Milwaukee music scene embraced her work, as did its press circles, allowing her music to travel far and draw in ever-growing crowds of appreciators.
She subsequently moved to Brooklyn in 2010 after realizing that she needed a much more expansive rhythmic atmosphere than Milwaukee could give her. After tending bar as a barista and developing connections in the local music scenes, she began work on 2013’s Pedestrian Drama, a record inspired by the Milwaukee public art installation of the same name by New York artist Janet Zweig and by what Stutt described as “dark fear.”
Eventually, though, she began to have troubles making ends meet and decided to take a short trip back to her hometown for a sort of personal recalibration. She would wind up staying in a psychiatric hospital for 6 weeks in an effort to combat the deterioration of her mental health. She then moved out to California to be near her brother and began an intense regime of healing and personal discovery, trying to find out who she was and how music fit into her life.
“Music and art has brought my life significant meaning since I was a kid,” Stutt reveals, “but it has also been a journey of figuring out what role it plays. I am not the type who enjoys playing casually. I write because I have to, because I need to get something off my chest or need the outlet to figure something out, for the necessity of defining a feeling so that I can move on from it or learn its lesson.”
“It’s such a luxury to get outside of your head,” she continues. “There isn’t one way to be a successful creative. Some people work best when they write everyday. For other people like me, writing is seasonal, like farming. Sometimes it’s better if the field rests, or goes through winter, if you nourish it with other inspiring experiences, if you process the experience of living for a while.”
Stutt will be self-releasing a new EP called Venus on May 1, and it chronicles her continuing efforts to build and sustain a healthy personal space in which she can grow both mentally and physically. Gathering together a group of like-minded musicians, the record feels more collaborative than past releases, giving each song the room to evolve and blossom without restriction or burden.
Her latest single, “From a Window, Big Sur,” is a wonderfully eclectic blend of minimal piano, clattering atmospherics and Stutt’s mesmerizing voice. The song offers a mirror for our own experiences and asks that we step into that silvery surface to see the motivations and consequences at the root of those memories. Often mysterious and filled with unpredictable impulses, it captures both a sense of emotional hesitancy and release, a feeling of nervous excitemnt at what comes next — even if we’re not sure whether it’s good or bad.
“My hope is that by sharing, it might land in someone’s ears, somewhere, somehow, that it finds them wherever they are, and that they feel a glimpse of belonging to this world. It’s all about belonging, to ourselves and to each other.”