An Interview with Steve Grand
By Gregg Shapiro
Every once in a while, I am given an opportunity to interview an artist at the beginning of their career and on the path towards a meteoric rise. Gay singer/songwriter Steve Grand is one of those people. While still living in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to speak with him in July 2013, just as he was making national headlines for his song and music video “All-American Boy,” which quickly logged more than a million views on YouTube. Since that time, I have had the privilege of not only interviewing him several more times, but also attending his concerts in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale and Provincetown. Grand, who is headlining Key West Pride on June 7, 2019, was kind enough to answer some questions in advance of his performance. Ticket information can be found at www.TheKeyWestTheater.com.
Gregg Shapiro: Steve, I spoke with you in 2018, shortly before the release of your second album Not the End of Me. What has the experience of supporting the record been like for you since its release?
Steve Grand: It’s always relieving and gratifying to finally release a body of work like that to the public. I spend a lot of time thinking and overthinking every detail of the record. Everything from how much reverb should be on the snare drum in a particular song to how to layout all of the artwork for the album booklet. None of those things can be changed once the album is released, so I feel a lot of pressure to get it right. This record is darker, and more personal than the last one, so it’s release was extra nerve wracking. But my fans have been so supportive of it! I feel so grateful to have their support after all this time.
GS: Since the beginning of your career, music videos have played a considerable role as a means of promoting your music. Can you please say something about some of the music videos by other artists who have had an effect on you and in what ways they influenced you?
SG: Music videos were one of the things I always looked forward to most when I was a kid, still dreaming about being a singer/songwriter. When I was a kid, I remember really loving the “Helena” music video by My Chemical Romance. In 2012, Lana Del Rey released her music video for “Ride,” which has become one of my all-time favorites.
GS: There is a new music video for your song “Disciple,” in which we see two versions of Steve Grand. What can you tell me about the concept for the video?
SG: I wanted to find a way to visually represent the duality of light/dark that lives in us all. A few years ago, I was having a rough time with some things in my personal life. It felt like the different sides of me were at war with each other. My boyfriend at the time said that, in my worst moments, sometimes he felt like I would split off into two different people. Him saying that has always stuck with me, so I wanted to also give voice to the way that difficult time felt for him as well.
GS: The video is a good example of Steve’s history of facial hair because you appear with a beard and then clean shaven. Do you have a preference for one over the other?
SG: [Laughs] I probably prefer a little bit of facial hair because it’s much more forgiving if I have a breakout or something. Honestly, I don’t put too much thought into it. I’ll shave it all off every so often just to change it up.
GS: As anyone who has seen your music videos can attest, the camera loves you.
SG: Aw, thanks!
GS: You are welcome. Additionally, there is a degree of acting on your part in each of the videos. Have you ever thought of expanding on that relationship with the camera and increasing your on screen appearances by taking acting roles in movies or on TV? If not, why?
SG: I would like to do more acting. It’s always a matter of what opportunities present themselves. I’ve done a couple little roles here and there already. You can see me in the first episode of Falling For Angels. I’m also going to be in Boy Culture, though the release of that hasn’t been announced.
GS: In addition to music videos, you also make good use of social media, including Instagram. Can you please say something about the indispensability of social media for an artist?
SG: It’s just the nature of the times we live in. I believe in making use of the tools we have available to us to get my music out there. The way to make it in entertainment and music is always shifting. You have to be flexible. Instagram is big today, but at some point, there will be another app.
GS: I had the pleasure of attending one of your concerts in Provincetown during the summer of 2018. Will you be doing another residency there this summer?
SG: Thanks for coming [laughs]! Yes, I will be back in Ptown this summer! I’ve been working hard on creating a really different kind of show for the audience. I think people will love it, whether they are fans of my music or not. I’m going to be doing lots of covers as well. I’ll be performing every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7PM at the Art House from July 2, 2019 through Labor Day.
GS: Have you started working on and recording new music for your next album?
SG: I’m always writing down ideas for songs; humming melodies into Voice Memos on my phone. But I’ve mostly been focused on learning lots of cover music and really practicing singing and piano and guitar.
GS: Finally, you will be performing June 7, 2019 at Key West Pride. What can fans expect from your set?
SG: They can expect me to do some of my better-known music, like “All-American Boy” and “Stay,” as well as songs off my new album. But I’ll also be doing some new covers from artists like Queen and Elton John and maybe even some Kasey Musgraves, who I am loving right now! It will be a mostly acoustic show where I’ll be singing and switching back and forth from guitar and piano. I can’t wait.