“The only way to break the cycle is to quit cold and never look back”: Stela Cole Bares It All in Her Spine-Tingling “Die Hard”

Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow
Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow
Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Stela Cole boldly opens up about toxic cycles, her own dark pop sound, and what the future looks like – starting with her intoxicating new single, “Die Hard”!
Stream: “Die Hard” – Stela Cole

If you want a better healthier life for yourself, completely cut out the things and people that are taking that away from you.

Are you addicted to the drama?

If it doesn’t feel fiery and passionate, does it lack the intense thrill you are seeking?

Why do you think so many people binge reality TV shows like The Real Housewives and The Bachelor? It is easy to get sucked in by the scandal of it all, but in real life relationships, that toxicity can get exhausting. LA’s Stela Cole leads us into the world of a tumultuous relationship and the struggle to break free from a cycle through her song, “Die Hard.”

Die Hard - Stela Cole
Die Hard – Stela Cole

With highly seductive and soul-stirring vocals, the words she sings pierce straight to the core. From the bold opening line, “You’ll bring the 100 proof, I’ll bring the attitude,” she instantly conveys the deep potency of the partnership at hand. Not long after comes the chilling lyric, “No matter what I do, there’s no escaping you.” If you have ever dealt with an addictive pattern, you know just how difficult it can be to dodge. The intoxicating, moody soundscapes further enforce this idea of being trapped in turmoil.

You bring the hundred proof
I’ll bring the attitude
I got everything to lose and I don’t care, yeah
No matter what I do
There’s no escaping you
So what’s the fun of missing out if I don’t have to?
Another night bites the dust
Another fight lights me up
You’re no good for me
But I’ll never sober up, ’cause
Old habits die hard
In the back room of the bar
You play me like your guitar
And I let it slide
We’re toxic, I love the taste
Don’t think that we’ll ever change
Likе a tattoo on my heart
Old habits die hard

Cole admits, “‘Die Hard’ is about my experience of consistently choosing the wrong path with the wrong people… even when I know where it ends.”

Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow
Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow

The accompanying video, directed by award winning directors Eliot Lee and Maya Sassoon, features stunning shots of a dark dive bar and a James Dean-style character oozing with charisma. You can immediately see how Cole can be so drawn into this man, played by Noah Gonzalez. As the visuals go on they become more and more intensified, leading to a bloody Cole.

There can be devastating effects to negative relationships, and “Die Hard” displays that downfall seamlessly. As mentioned before, who doesn’t love a bit of drama? Cole ensures her viewers are wholly captivated by this gripping narration.

Atwood Magazine spoke with Stela Cole about her new music video, breaking bad habits, and so much more!

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:: stream/purchase Die Hard here ::
:: connect with Stela Cole here ::


Die Hard - Stela Cole

Atwood Magazine: Your music possesses a deeply enticing dark-pop sound. How did your unique musical quality come to life?

Stela Cole: This has been one of the most intricate processes. It took me years to understand how to blend all of my influences into something that not only felt unique and authentic, but was also something I’d genuinely want to hear on repeat. I listen to music constantly, and I’m always taking notes of things I love and want to bring into my own artistry. I think experimenting completely outside of the box and then refining has led me to my sound.

I understand you are inspired by greats like Fleetwood Mac and The Mamas & the Papas, as well as more current indie talents such as Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys. How have those influences played a role in the style you have created?

Stela Cole: I love the dark mysteriousness each of these artists have. I naturally gravitate towards minor keys and vintage sounds… It feels like home yet still perfectly eerie. I find myself constantly living in the sonic and aesthetic worlds these artists have created, and I’m heavily inspired to do the same with my music. It’s just effortlessly cool.

Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow
Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow

“Die Hard” touches on toxic relationships and the nature of what seems like a passionate love affair, but is really just a path of destruction. What brought about this concept?

Stela Cole: “Die Hard” is based on my prior experiences in broken relationships, and how dangerous falling into a cycle can be. I’d pick the same type of person over and over again, ignoring red flags, and feeling anger towards my partners and myself for how I was being treated. It was exhausting and I’d never really talked about it in my music before.

Unfortunately I think this is something a lot of people can relate to, but that’s why it’s so important to acknowledge. Luckily I’m on the other side now, and healing has allowed me to reflect and find a lot of peace in my past experiences.

We have all been there, letting ourselves fall for someone we know is Mister or Miss Wrong. What advice would you bestow on someone who keeps going after the people they know are bad for them?

Stela Cole: It will feel extremely uncomfortable and painful, but the only way to break the cycle is to quit cold and never look back. Block them. Never speak to them again. Whatever it takes, just know they will never change and if you want a better healthier life for yourself, completely cut out the things and people that are taking that away from you.

You also have to acknowledge and hold yourself accountable for letting certain people into your life. Once you can pinpoint what you might be subconsciously seeking out, you’re one step closer to understanding how to reshape what you’re looking for in a relationship.

The music video is set in a dimly lit bar and showcases your typical leather jacket, cigarette smoking bad boy. It also powerfully displays the image of blood on your hands. Can you further explain the visual's message?

Stela Cole: Nearly everything in the music video serves as a metaphor of what it’s like being in an abusive or toxic relationship. I wanted the setting to feel desolate, and dark… Being mistreated can feel isolating, especially when you’ve been conditioned to make excuses and hide the truth from everyone around you. The set needed to match that feeling. Noah using the finger guns and the blood on my dress and hands represent how something seemingly playful can have real, painful consequences.

Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow
Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow

It is common for humans to develop bad habits that need some serious reprogramming to break. What would you say is one of those traits for you?

Stela Cole: Choosing the wrong people and not standing up for myself was a bad habit I struggled with for years. OCD is also a more recent battle I’ve finally been able to navigate, even though I’m still learning and adjusting to medication.  I also have the classic bad habit of biting my nails, which somehow has been the hardest of them all to break. [laughs]

Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow
Stela Cole © Steve Sparrow

On the subject of bad habits, after seeking more fulfillment in your life, you deleted your apps, breaking away from the habit of constantly scrolling. What prompted that major shift and how has it changed your life?

Stela Cole: I hit an all-time low late 2022, and realized I needed to make a drastic change to save my happiness and passion for creating music. I had fallen into this awful cycle of writing music subconsciously for social media platforms and the algorithm, and I ended up hating everything I was making.

I decided to take a step back from social media, and it quite literally saved my career. My creativity skyrocketed, my music changed for the better, and I was able to build a world that I’m proud to promote and proud to bring other people into. While I’m incredibly grateful for social media allowing me to connect with my beautiful fans all over the world, I’ve learned to approach it differently moving forward. I’m making sure I’m staying true to my artistry and never crossing the line of losing my integrity or happiness just to go “viral.”

What’s next for Stela Cole?

Stela Cole: So much music. I’ve been building out my debut album, and there will be tons of singles leading up to it! I’m also working on merch, and hoping to play some shows around certain upcoming releases. This is going to be my craziest year yet.

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:: stream/purchase Die Hard here ::
:: connect with Stela Cole here ::

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Die Hard - Stela Cole

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? © Steve Sparrow

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