Soulful and passionate, Stephanie Hatzinikolis caresses the keys on her keyboard. Her fingers flutter and dance across the black-and-white instrument and her voice, almost with a sense of urgency, fills the room.
Her songs are intimate and relevant. “I like to write what I’ve experienced and I aim to relate to as many people as possible. I tend to write about deep emotions and feelings, mostly things that will make others reflect on their own thoughts,” she said. “I’m always writing, never fully satisfied and always open for inspiration. Like any artist, I have no limits or boundaries. My gift is music and I intend on touching as many hearts as I can.”
Hatzinikolis, 22, has been playing the piano most of her life. She remembers writing her first composition when she was 4 or 5, playing it over and over again. Born in California, Hatzinikolis’ family moved a lot and she attended at least eight schools in different cities and states.
They settled in Spokane in 2001; she attended Mead High School and began writing words to accompany the melodies in her head. She graduated in 2005 and then went on to Spokane Falls Community College, earning an associate arts degree with studies in music theory, jazz and classical. “Discipline leads to freedom,” she said, “You study hard and learn one thing and then you are free to use that knowledge. Then you learn something else and so on. It’s an ongoing ladder.”
Hatzinikolis works at a Papa Murphy’s on the North Side. A co-worker, Sam Wilkinson, heard her play and decided to act as her manager, finding her gigs and helping her cut a sample CD. For the past few months she has been playing regularly at area establishments and has over a dozen performances lined up from now into November.
Though Hatzinikolis enjoys all genres of music, her style falls into the category of indie folk. Her songs often tell stories and include instrumentals. In her song “We Will All Fall,” she expresses her feelings about following dreams: “Standing up is harder than what it seems … to fighting fears and living dreams. There could be love and peace today because everything’s going to be OK.”
“The way I see it, we were all given a gift of some sort and the best way to use our gifts is to share them,” she said. Her other songs include “Holding Tight,” “Nowhere to Run” and “Stay Inside.” She is always writing songs and is in the beginning stages of making her first full-length album. In the meantime, she performs as often as she can because it’s what she loves to do. “Everyone has something that they love to do. Whatever it may be, it should always be a part of their lives. There is no excuse to not be happy.”