Aug 2023 16

With her second album slowly approaching, Guy Lecoq spoke with Staytus’ Sam Grundemann about her journey through emotional turmoil and artistic fulfillment.


An InterView with Sam Grundemann of Staytus

By Guy Lecoq (GuyLecoq)

Referred to as a “true musical auteur” by legendary producer Sean Beavan, Sam Grundemann is earning her way to becoming a trailblazer in modern alternative and industrial-tinged rock. The late 2022 release of her Disease of the Mind debut showed her to be a poignant songwriter and a capable producer, crafting a singular palette wrought with darkly abrasive tones that recall the edgy sounds of the ’90s; all the while, the album saw her lyrically working through themes of personal trauma derived from her own experiences, while also offering encouragement to her audience that it is okay to not be okay, to acknowledge feelings, and in doing so find relief. This past May saw the release of her latest single, “Lovesick,” which sees her working with the aforementioned Beavan, and signaling the approach of a new full-length album, Wasteland of Broken Hearts. From that album, a new single and video are due to arrive in late September, “Depravity Bites,” and ReGen will be thrilled to see and hear what Staytus will be delivering unto us. Guy Lecoq had the opportunity to speak with Grundemann about her journey, from her roots in Scottsdale, AZ to her process of learning composition and production, along with some insights into her connoisseurship of ’90s alt. metal and industrial/rock.


I think we’re all in some way influenced by the environment we live in or grow up in. You’re from Scottsdale, Arizona, ‘The West’s Most Western Town,’ and one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. over the past two decades. What was it like to grow up in this expanding city?

Grundemann: I lived a really sheltered childhood. My parents were really overbearing in my teenage years. School was rough because I wanted to learn the things that I was interested in, not mathematics or anything like that. I often would look up digital art and music tutorials on YouTube as a way of escaping all that. I think YouTube has taught me more about my craft than anything my schooling possibly did. Don’t get me wrong – Scottsdale is a pretty nice city and I still consider it home. There are a lot of cool places like Scottsdale Fashion Square and Old Town Scottsdale that I still frequently visit.

Would you say that you had a rather lonely childhood and that it defines you today? Were your parents supportive of your creative desires?

Grundemann: I would say yes. It was hard to make friends during my childhood because other children did not understand me. Looking back on it, I get a little sad. However, my parents always supported my creative desires and I thank them for that.

Was there a time in your childhood when you felt that, although different from other children, you still had to follow your own creative path? Was there anything or anyone in particular that influenced you in that direction?

Grundemann: Absolutely. When I was about 11, I watched a music video of Nirvana – ‘Heart Shaped Box’ on YouTube. I was mesmerized by Kurt Cobain’s immense talent. My parents gifted me a bright red Fender guitar the following Christmas. I then began to take lessons at a local guitar shop called Guitar Gallery. Around that time, I also became immersed in music production and audio engineering thanks to a few Google searches and a family friend, Alan Hyatt. I remember him giving me a copy of the pitch-correcting software Melodyne and a condenser microphone to go with it.

‘Heart Shaped Box’ is a classic for sure. Nirvana has clearly opened the doors to a new era in music and even pop culture in general. Is this a decade in which you would’ve liked to grow up or even start your musical journey?

Grundemann: I definitely vibe with the ’90s music scene. A lot of my favorite albums of all time came from that era, such as Nirvana’s In Utero, KoRn’s Follow the Leader, and of course, Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral. I was born on February 3, 1997, so I didn’t really get to experience much of the ’90s. However, it definitely was an era I would’ve liked to grow up in and/or start my musical journey with.



This ’90s vibe can really be felt on Disease of the Mind. But before working on this first full-length, you had been developing your sound and experimenting with technology for years, also acquiring skills by studying or obtaining degrees in music, audio production technologies, and design. Can you tell me about the journey prior to the production of Disease of the Mind?

Grundemann: Music has always been very interesting to me, in both a creative and methodical way. I received most of my formal musical education through Paradise Valley Community College and Arizona State University, as well as Scottsdale Music Academy for private lessons. At first, I really wanted to produce progressive dubstep and experimental EDM, but my focus quickly shifted over to the industrial/rock and alt. metal scenes. I consider electronic acts such as Daft Punk, Skrillex, Grimes, and Infected Mushroom as a big influence for me to take a step into the multi-genre world of things.

How did you start working on the album and what was the goal you wanted to achieve with it?

Grundemann: In the beginning of creating Disease of the Mind, I had just started taking singing lessons from Dale Yeoman, who is a very talented vocal teacher. I was then able to record my voice on Ableton and ProTools. For pitch correction, I switched between Melodyne and AutoTune, depending on the track. Disease of the Mind, is a very blunt title. I have struggled many times with my mental health, mostly with my Autism Spectrum Disorder, my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I chose this album to be a brutally honest and cathartic take of my struggles. I hope a lot of people, like me, will relate to the lyrics and the messages of my songs. Maybe my songs will one day help them and heal them, as well. I can only hope.

You mentioned KoRn’s Follow the Leader earlier and I think we can really feel the sound of that period in your new single, ‘Lovesick,’ but with a more modern approach. Was this your original intention?

Grundemann: Absolutely. The sounds and emotions found in albums like KoRn’s Follow the Leader have left a permanent mark on me. The sounds from the nü-metal days aren’t just tunes to me; they bring back memories and feelings, influencing how I see music, and even how I feel about certain things in life. With ‘Lovesick,’ I wanted to pay homage to these influences, but also felt it was imperative to translate it into a sound that speaks to today’s audience.

Having Sean Beavan onboard for the production of ‘Lovesick’ was a great experience. His insights added layers of depth to the track, enabling us to meld the raw, visceral energy of the nü-metal days with contemporary sonic textures. I believe that the mixture of our shared vision has resulted in something truly unique.
We’re both ecstatic about how it turned out, and it warms my heart to hear that listeners can sense the inspiration while also acknowledging its modern vibe. It’s a testament to the timeless appeal of great music, and how it can be reimagined for new generations without losing its soul.



What can we expect from your next album, Wasteland of Broken Hearts? Is this a continuation of Disease of the Mind, or a departure sonically and lyrically speaking?

Grundemann: Wasteland of Broken Hearts stands distinct from Disease of the Mind. While there are threads connecting the two, I’ve been careful not to tread too much on familiar ground. There are sonic elements that followers of my first record will recognize, but there’s also a fresh vibrancy that I believe will resonate with both old fans and new listeners.
To give you a deeper perspective, my journey with Wasteland of Broken Hearts has been a profound evolution. From my debut, I’ve always been adamant about breaking boundaries and challenging the conventional notions of musicmaking. And of course, it’s all about creating an immersive sonic experience.

Disease of the Mind was a testament to that vision. And while it showcased my ability in blending sound design with music, with Wasteland of Broken Hearts, I’ve attempted to bridge the cinematic expanse of albums like Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile. I wanted to craft a narrative so compelling that listeners feel like they’re journeying through a movie rather than just an album.
To those familiar with my debut, the intricate textures, sonic tones, and the enveloping atmosphere won’t come as a surprise. This album, however, marks a milestone in my growth as a songwriter. Tracks like ‘Lovesick’ and ‘Get Down’ pair the raw intensity of my trademark sound with melodies and hooks that could rival any iconic nü-metal tracks.
My focus remains unwavering – to forge a unique path in today’s musical landscape. At the intersection of modern recording technology and artistry, I see myself as a torchbearer for a fresh wave of musician/producer/songwriters.
With Wasteland of Broken Hearts, expect an album that stands on its own yet echoes the spirit of Staytus. It’s a journey I’m thrilled to share.

How do you make your live shows so energetic? And are you planning any concerts for the new album?

Grundemann: When I’m onstage, I pour all my feelings into my singing. Every lyric has genuine emotion. I believe that the more authentic and raw I am, the more intense the energy becomes for those watching.
But it’s not just about the vocals. Music is a full-body experience. Incorporating instruments like the guitar, bass, or synth, also adds to the immersive experience. Every show, I aim to bring something fresh so that people don’t feel like they’re watching the same thing.
And about concerts for the new album? Keep your ears open! I’m super excited to perform the new songs live. There’ll be some news on that soon.

With their own unique approach to the world and feelings, what do you think non-neurotypical people can contribute not only to art, but also to society in general?

Grundemann: Non-neurotypical people see the world in their own unique way, and that’s a good thing. In art, they create things that are fresh and deep, and their out-of-the-box thinking can lead to new and cool solutions in other areas too. They get what it feels like to be different, helping us all be more understanding. They ask the big ‘why’ about how we do things and make us think twice. Simply put, when we value and include everyone’s way of thinking, we all benefit from the ideas and perspectives that every mind, no matter how it’s wired, has to offer.



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Photography by Jim Louvau – courtesy of Jim Louvau Photography
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