McKenna Van Koppen


Up Close with Stasia

S.B.-Area Singer/Songwriter Releases First Album

With so many young people dreaming of achieving success on programs like American Idol and The Voice, it’s refreshing to encounter one who has embraced a more organic approach to career development. Anastasia Van Wingerden, or Stasia as she is known to her friends and fans in the clubs and coffeehouses of San Francisco, was brought up in Carpinteria with an ethic of taking the road — or surfing the wave — less traveled, and for her music, that really has made all the difference. As a child on her family’s farm, Stasia was encouraged to paint, to cook, to surf, and to revere the nearby Pacific Ocean, which is part of the reason that her debut is called Pacific. The other reason that she named her album after the world’s largest body of water is because she’s spent her young life (she’s just 23) traveling up and down the rim of it — tasting the cultures and getting to know the people of such prime spots as San Francisco, Big Sur, and Valparaíso, Chile.

In fact, Valparaíso inspired one of the record’s most memorable songs — and one of several tunes that Stasia has written in her second language of Spanish. She’s bilingual not only as a result of the fact that her mother, Nadia Van Wingerden, is a Spanish teacher but also because her dad, Ed Van Wingerden, has dedicated himself to creating and maintaining strong relationships with the agricultural laborers who work the land. Stasia remembers family trips to Mexico as times when she learned “how lucky we are to have so much, and yet how happy and beautiful life can be for all those people who don’t participate in a materialistic consumer culture.”

Her guitar playing was originally inspired by one of her early idols, none other than Jack Johnson. “I remember working so hard to learn to play the song ‘Breakdown’ and then heading down to surf at Rincon and seeing Jack next to me in the lineup. That made me feel good,” she says with a smile. Today her musical horizons have broadened to encompass an even more global sound, thanks to her talented band, the Sunkeepers. Look for Anastasia and the Sunkeepers at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Tuesday, September 11, at 8 p.m., when they’ll celebrate the official release of Pacific. For tickets and info, call 962-7776 or visit

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