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