Coffeehouse Sessions: The Step

Image courtesy of Huddersfield SU [source]
Image courtesy of Huddersfield SU [source]
Oliviero Fello and Stefano Donato arrive on stage both carrying guitars, Donato, a rustic-looking acoustic and Fello, a fluorescent pink electric. It’s a caricature of their music, an illusion of one taking lead, a precedence over the other. Rather than a clash of artistic natures however, this is a partnership of minds. The two met in London in 2013 – three years on, they are going strong as indie-pop duo The Step.

In a swift descent of spiralling guitar interplay, Fello and Donato level in their acoustic atmosphere in a meeting of the soaring elasticity of the electric guitar with the delicate strum of the acoustic, a display of companionship rather than competition. Alongside Donato’s Billy Corgan-esque vocals, the guitars fade out in a softly-lit daydream, the sonic intricacy of Fello’s playing subsiding to the acoustic sailing of Donato’s.

Their music is hinged on the friendly accent of their guitar’s partnership, relaying a feel-good vibe resonant of long summer days, of nostalgic and savoured memories. With guitars in the clouds and the sunlit musings of the vocals, The Step are perfectly in tune with each element of their music, elevating the acoustic and harnessing the electric in harmony with one another.

Their signature is the natural rise and fall of the music, which carries through every song, original or cover. Penultimate track ‘Gravity’ lends to an ascending riff from Fello’s electric, elevating sky-high before hastening to its more acoustic confines; it’s true power relents occasionally, threatening the presence of Donato’s solely acoustic delivery – save for his voice. ‘Gravity’ sees his voice migrate from a soft, almost passive nature to soaring alongside the electric guitar, as though charged by its influence.

For their final song, the two, who originally hail from Italy, take on The Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe,’ something which they say they are “very proud” to be doing. Breathing new life into the song, without undermining the legacy of the original, the sweet, harmonised collaboration of Fello’s and Donato’s vocals pays tributes to one of Britain’s best-loved bands, rather than trying to make it their own. Their voices empower the atmosphere more-so than the energy of their guitars; the synchronised transcendence of their vocals and their instruments demonstrates the passion that lies behind The Step, a true meeting of mind and soul.

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