Christopher Stopa, co-owner of Bakerbots Baking, was surprised when a demo he recorded a decade ago went viral as a "Lost Radiohead Track."
Four days before Christmas, user “americathesn” uploaded an audio track to YouTube under the title “Untitled Bends Era Radiohead Song.” Radiohead fans took heed. They insisted upon the track’s authenticity on sites like Gawker and NME.
Christopher Stopa, a Toronto local, was first forwarded the NME article by a friend who told him to check out the track. At first Stopa thought his iTunes was on, or that the site had to be some sort of prank. He hadn’t thought about the song for years, and he couldn’t believe it was being attributed to Radiohead. “Sit Still,” as the tune was originally titled, was on a demo he’d put together a decade ago with his old band Public. Stopa shared the article on Facebook just before heading off to a family cottage for the holidays, along with a note saying that the song was his.
Stopa’s Facebook post made its way, via a few re-shares, into the hands of CNN‘s Erin Burnett, who covered the story last week. Anyone from the Bloor and Ossington area who watched the CNN segment might have recognized the unmasked songwriter from one of their neighbourhood’s best new places to snack: Bakerbots Baking.
Stopa had tried to make it as a full-time musician, going so far as to move to New York for a few years. He wasn’t successful, and he moved back to Toronto. Last summer, he and his partner Rosanna opened Bakerbots on the east side of Delaware Avenue, north of Bloor Street. Along with its beautiful custom-order cakes and melt-in-your-mouth meringues, the independently owned cafe makes its own ice cream sandwiches, with homemade cookies and fresh ice cream supplied by Ed’s Real Scoop.
Stopa’s not sure who put “Sit Still” (which you can stream, below) up on YouTube, but he suspects whoever did so found a copy of the demo he shopped around while he was in New York, and posted the song by accident. While he admits Radiohead had some influence on the song’s composition, he contends that it hearkens back more to a general ’90s alternative style that was popular at the time. He finds it to be more reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, Travis, and the Hours.
Despite his internet success, Stopa is reluctant to get back into the music game. “I don’t really know the value of this anyway,” he said. “As nice as it is, because I like Radiohead, and on some technical level it means I sang [the song] well, I don’t really want to be known as the person that was mistaken [for] Radiohead. Art is about making something interesting.” Another factor at play is the fact that, upon the introduction of the aforementioned fresh ice cream sandwiches at Bakerbots, sales began booming. Stopa hasn’t had a lot of time to work on his music ever since, even despite the cold weather.
Stopa still performs music as a hobby. “Now I just record an acoustic track and a vocal track for an hour and a half, and then it’s like two o’clock in the morning and I’m tired and have to be back at work at 9 a.m., so I just go home,” he said. “I feel like I’m actually getting something that’s more what I wanted by not working on it as much. So that’s kind of funny.”
Photo by Robin Hatch/Torontoist.