Starting Off Our Year Up Close & Personal
(Cover story January 2017)
By Alexander Kacala
There is nothing small about Steve Grand.
Whether it comes to his talent as a musician, his following on social media, the love for his family, or his dreams and aspirations – Grand goes big. The out and proud singer-songwriter made waves with the 2013 release of his love story, anthem “All-American Boy.” Since then, he has released a 13-track album, appeared on Out magazine’s list of top 100 LGBT leaders, performed on Good Morning America, and traveled across the country bringing his music to fans and new followers all over.
While he was in town last month for a performance at the Sunshine Cathedral, we had the opportunity to explore the luxe grounds of The Grand Resort and Spa with the buff Illinois native. How fitting is that? Grand at The Grand Resort – a perfect combination.
During our hour-long chat, he opened up to us about a recent lost, his year in review, what’s next, and why his sobriety isn’t the only thing that matters.
As you reflect on the year you have just had, what did you learn?
2016 has been a great year for me in a lot of ways. This has been my most productive year. A year where I really got myself together in a lot of ways – behind the scenes professionally and personally. I am feeling good and really healthy. And I am I feeling like I can take on the world.
I have actually stayed more out of the spotlight. I made an effort to work more on myself. Obviously, not completely, because I still need to do my shows and some work, but I feel like it really has been a year where some things really clicked in me. I have been able to be more productive and happy with my productivity than ever before.
In December 2015, you went public with your decision to become sober. How has that decision impacted your journey?
I didn’t really want this article to be about all of that, because I want to stick with it more before I make a thing of it. But what I will say, is that it has definitely been a very important decision to me. My decision to stay sober is something that I feel very good about. Importantly, because I am around alcohol so much through my profession. People are always saying to me, “Well isn’t that so hard? How are you around it all the time?” Well, I feel like not drinking is an active choice. I don’t look at it as abstaining from something. I look at it like I am taking part in something else. A different activity, something that involves not drinking. This makes me feel like I am doing something that is healthy for me. An end result which is good for my mind, my body, and my spirit. You know, doing one good thing for yourself, or making one healthy choice, I find it helps to be the catalyst to make other healthy choices. Maybe you are not staying out as late. Get better sleep. Feel better about yourself and go to the gym. Or for me, writing more music. Whatever it is, making one healthy choice can be the catalyst to making other healthy choices. I found this to be very true in my situation.
That is incredible. Tell me a little bit about your collaboration with out musician Eli Lieb. Your video with him for the song, “Look Away,” got more than 1,000,000 views on YouTube this year. How did that come about?
I loved working with Eli. He is a wonderful guy, an incredible talent, and an amazing songwriter, producer, and musician. He just as wonderful as a person. I love that we had the opportunity to work together, especially because of how we started. In 2013, we both released songs and music videos that people saw a lot of similarities between, because they both portrayed same sex love stories. And, both came out around the fourth of July. I even had a few interviews in which the interviewer would sort of try to pit him or me against each other, which the media sometimes tries to do. But we never really fell into that. I had not gotten to meet him until the day we finally worked together. I sent him a message telling him I was coming to Los Angles. I asked him if he wanted to write together, and he said, sure. We popped out that song right away and recorded it the same day.
Who are some of the artists or musical acts who inspired you when you were younger or today?
Well, I am inspired by the artists I grew up with sonically, especially The Beatles, with how they kept changing over time, and they had their unique eras. They weren’t afraid to grow and they weren’t afraid of what their core audience would think. I look up to people who are leaders in their industry, like Steve Jobs, or really anyone who has carved a unique path for themselves against any and all odds. I love a good success story. That is something I have in common with my father. My dad is – I love the guy, but he can be a bit of a meathead. He is not overly emotional, but he will get teared up talking about Thomas Edison and his success story. That [kind of thinking] is very much in my DNA. I come from a family that really values people who really work hard to make their dreams come true. And people who believe in social change or who create great art or technology. I really draw from innovation.
I feel very lucky to come from a big, loving family. Things obviously haven’t been perfect for us. We recently dealt with a tremendous loss. We lost my aunt and my godmother, almost unexpectedly. She was really the leader of our family. She was a very outspoken and strong woman, intelligent, creative, and full of life. But she died rather unexpectedly.
Is she the portrait on the table in the family photo you posted over Thanksgiving?
Yes, that is Diane. So her death has also shaken my perspective over this last year and a half. Realizing life changes in an instant, I watched my mom lose her very best friend in this world. I feel like I have mourned for my mother more than I mourned for myself. But what I realized was that with all of what I am dealing with, I still have all of these people around me I love that need me to be strong, too. It has put me into a position where regardless of where I am and what I am struggling with, I need to step it up and be there for my family. It is growing up, and it’s life, and it is very real. Loss is something we all have to deal with at some point or another.
What about new music? When can your fans expect another album?
Originally, I intended to put out another album either in the summer or the fall of 2017, but that didn’t happen. I was just telling my mom recently I am glad that it didn’t. I feel like the album I would have made would have been angry and I don’t feel so angry anymore. I feel like I have overcome a lot within myself over these past few years. It has been a couple of years of working through my inner demons and what holds me back inside. I feel like I am in a much better place to reflect on these fears now that I am out of the thick of it. I think the record that I am making right now is coming from more of a place of acceptance, and more of a place of making peace with myself. I think people, especially my fans, are really going to like it.
I think there is a lot of anger and tension within our society right now for a lot of reasons. I think people are looking for something that has a stillness to it. That is what I am currently working on and I can’t wait to share it.