Musician Steve Grand’s Boy Problems
Steve Grand talks new music, touchy-feely fans and moving beyond ‘All-American Boy’
By Chris Azzopardi | Photos By Christopher Free
Steve Grand can barely stand himself – that is, the superficial, Internet-packaged version of the singer/songwriter/dreamboat presented to the public since even before his 2013 viral hit “All-American Boy” rocked our gay world.
“I don’t like the me that most people probably see,” admits Grand, 26.
Now, the self-proclaimed “weird guy trapped in a douchey gym guy’s body” is tackling YouTube with a fun and frank smattering of endearing, no-holds-barred confessionals. He takes on his constantly-criticized image… and also a half gallon of Breyers, which he (in)appropriately slurps as he dishes practical advice on clean bottoms. In another video, called “Steve and Trev PUMP it up at the GYM,” Grand delivers on the dream of him wearing compression pants over his jockstrap.
As he preps new music, the “All-American Boy” is certainly less all American-y these days. In our new freewheeling interview, Grand opened up about everything and anything: people’s “low expectations” of him, his more carefree career attitude, his junk, boner kills, handsy fans, haters and his fear that someone will start singing “All-American Boy” while having sex with him.
I have a confession to make: I like you better now than I did at the beginning of your career.
Fuck you! (Laughs) … I’m kidding.
Yeah, fuck me. I blame the Internet. I got bits and pieces of you. The abs. The music. But now, through your YouTube videos, we’re finally seeing the real you.
I’m not so bad. People have (such) incredibly low expectations of me, that I just need to show up. For my performances, I need to not be terrible and people will be impressed. I just know people have really, really low expectations of me and that’s what the Internet does. I’m such an easy person to target. Young, good-looking, white, gay men – we love to hate those people. But there’s been a real person there the whole time.
It’s weird. For a long time there’s been a big disconnect between how much I could expect to be understood by people and how much I actually was understood by people. I had this unreasonable expectation that I was going to be understood by people and it took me a long time to get over that. I don’t make sense in any kind of headline, so I’ve kinda given up on that and I’m fine with it. The more you kind of give up and don’t care, the more people feel that and like that.
When did you stop caring as much?
Of course I do care. I revel in not caring, but I still am human. I’m not very good at crafting the public image version of me. I’m just not. I’m too messy of a person, and I care too much about being able to be a real dimensional human being.
Why do you say you’re “messy”?
(Hesitates) There’s a good answer to this. Some people just make more sense in a headline. Taylor Swift – she’s an example of someone who’s not really messy. She’s a well-oiled machine. Everything about her is very comfortable and that’s one of the reasons she’s so massively successful. That’s not a criticism; it’s an objective observation. With me, I still am just a regular person operating in the same world as everyone else. I’m not rich and famous. And I think there’s a weird disconnect that, when someone has any degree of fame on social media or whatever, we discount them as being a real, complicated human being. I feel like I have always fought for myself to be seen as a complex, nuanced human being, to the point where I would rather not have lots of success and notoriety if it means that I can’t let all the messy edges of me show.
“All-American Boy” categorized you as “country music’s first out gay male,” but then you didn’t make any “country” music after that and even resisted the label. Was that time in your career as confusing for you as it was for other people?
What I’m mostly confused about is how important labels are to people. Music is music and maybe “All-American Boy” is a country song to some people and maybe it’s not to other people. I just never put much energy into thinking about what it was classified as. I probably would’ve been smarter to, but I just genuinely don’t care about labels that much. I never called myself a country singer, so yeah, it was kind of confusing and another reason why you have to separate yourself from the way that you’re seen publicly. Even going down to the most basic details of who I am publicly, it’s not even correct. I never said I’m country and I never said I’m the first anything; those are all things that people associated with me and it had absolutely zero to do with anything that I said or did myself.
Do you regret having that song be country-tinged at all because it put you in a box that you didn’t want to be in?
No – I have to learn everything through life experience. I didn’t have anyone taking me through this. It’d be so easy to get caught up in, “I regret this, I regret that.” We’re not all on the same playing field, and I’ve had certain advantages and I’ve also had certain disadvantages. One is that I really got into this on my own and I didn’t necessarily have the guidance that maybe would’ve made everything turn out a little differently.
With that said, is the facial hair intended to shift you from the “All-American Boy” image?
(Laughs) I’m really trying! I’m really, really trying. It’s not growing right! But it’s natural and nice. I just feel like it fits my personality to be more cuddly and look like a bear a little bit. Even having shitty facial hair fits my personality. (Laughs)
Can you talk about the struggle to be taken seriously as a music artist when there are half-naked photos of you circulating all over the Internet?
It used to be really frustrating, but I’ve readjusted my expectations. I don’t have that high of expectations for the general public – I mean, we don’t even understand things that really actually fucking matter, like, with this election. So why should I expect people to take the time to understand me? I don’t matter. And people don’t even care about things that do matter.
I take my music seriously. I’m a good musician and I’m a good performer, and I also like to work out my body and show it off sometimes. It’s a fleeting thing; when I’m 50, I’m not gonna look like this.
Everybody has to feel like they have to be a special snowflake. People can’t just look at a picture of a hot guy and let it be beautiful. It has to be some statement about them. Let people just fucking appreciate what is beautiful and let things be beautiful if they’re beautiful.
So, you never look at a photo of another guy and think, “I wish I could look that good”?
Oh my god – of course I do. But I try to take personal responsibility and not lash out at that person because they maybe make me feel less. I just fucking look at the picture and enjoy it. I’ve had a lot of moments where I’ve seen someone who is maybe more beautiful or someone who sounds better than me or has written a song that I think is gorgeous – yeah, sometimes I have that envy and that jealousy rises up. I could either leave a really bitter comment about it on the Internet or I could go work on my own shit and be the best I can be.
Do you think your more risqué photos have helped or hurt your career?
Oh, I don’t know. It is what it is. I’m just trying to be myself.
Would you ever go back into modeling full time?
I never was a model. I never got paid for any of it. I’m just another guy who has photos online of me in my underwear and that’s really all it is. It’s really true. I don’t know what qualifies as being a model anymore because we all have Instagram accounts. Max Emerson is a model. I’m not. I just wanted to take pictures of myself with my clothes off.
You recently got naked for a promo advertising bassackwards tees. Tell me about that.
I got with them and worked with them and we’re still figuring out which organization it’s gonna benefit. It’s definitely gonna be an LGBT organization. If people are gonna click on this shit then yeah, I’ll be a part of this cool T-shirt (campaign) and we’ll give some of the proceeds to our cause and everyone wins.
How do they decide how much butt to show in a video like that?
Everyone’s seen my butt, but some days I’ll feel more like an instigator than other days; other days I want no part of that. With this, I don’t think I’d done anything that I hadn’t done before. I just wanted to make a video that was beautiful and sexy.
Under what circumstances would you go completely au natural?
And show my dick? You can pretty much see it in some of the shots from the past, but I probably wouldn’t. I’d rather not. But if someone was like, “Here’s a million dollars,” I would be like, “Sure.” But, like, I don’t think my dick is that exciting. It’s just like, whatever. It’s pretty unremarkable. I think it’s good to be proud of what you have but I think there are more interesting things about me than my relatively… what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s very appropriately sized and shaped, that’s what I would say.
That’s gonna be the headline somewhere: “Steve Grand calls his dick ‘unremarkable’ and ‘appropriately sized.’”
That’s fine. If it makes people happy…
How has notoriety changed your life?
That’s a big question. I don’t know. I have a Wikipedia page! Googling myself is a really scary thing that could have really adverse effects on my psyche!
You’re not supposed to do that, Steve.
I definitely don’t anymore. It took a long time. It’s been months since I’ve done it. I’m terrified of what’s out there.
How has it changed dating for you?
When “All-American Boy” came out I couldn’t be on dating apps without getting shit for it, but now it’s fine. It doesn’t really have any effect.
Have you ever been faced with a flirty fan that made you uncomfortable?
Someone was tickling me as we were taking a picture and I’d kind of had it, and I think they thought they were being sneaky about it. But I really reacted and made a scene. “That tickles!” And I jumped. There’s a picture of me reacting. It’s hilarious. I was gonna repost it but I didn’t wanna embarrass the guy. Like, it’s fine. He was tickling my side; I don’t know what he got out of that. Sometimes people, if they’re more drunk, their hand will lower to my ass and I’ll be like, OOOK.
You have to slap their wrist?
Yeah. (Tickling) is one of those things. I felt like tickling me was really presumptuous and I didn’t like it. It was uncomfortable. One time there was someone who was a fan and I was like, “You’re really hot,” and, you know, that whole thing happened, but that doesn’t really happen. I just feel like I’m automatically put in a position when someone is a fan. I’m already something to them. There’s an expectation there. It freaks me out to think about if I’m having sex with someone they might be thinking about my music video, like that’s really weird to me. I wouldn’t like that.
Or if they wanted to play your music during sex.
My fear is that someone will start singing “All-American Boy” during it. People joke like, “Oh, I feel like we’re in your music video,” and that’s a boner kill. I like to keep those things separate. It’s so pure. What I put out there is so pure and I don’t want to think about purity when I’m actually having an intimate moment.
What’s next for you?
I really do wanna have something out in the next couple of months and I wanna move more quickly with getting content out there. I really want to put out a full album, so I’m working on that right now. I’m in a better frame of mind and what I’m putting out is gonna be about a lot of things that happened in the last two years. I’m more grown up and things are gonna be more stripped down. I just feel like I’m better and more comfortable with myself, so I’m letting the edges of me be present on the album and in the recordings more than before. I was always trying to round off my edges because I wasn’t comfortable with them. It’s gonna be a little more gritty. It’s gonna fuck up people’s brains.
So the “Anti All-American Boy”?
Yeah, I have a rebellious spirit and that’s what made me want to do “All-American Boy” as my first thing, but now I’m rebelling against something different. I don’t feel like making a music video about two guys is an act of rebellion. So, what am I saying now? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself while making this music. It’s gonna be interesting. I’m grateful I’ve relieved myself of the burden of trying to be whatever expectations people had of me because I think I fucked all that up good enough to where I’m able to freely be myself now. |
The Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation (REAF) Presents A Special Benefit Concert With Recording Star and Internet Sensation STEVE GRAND with Special Guest, Comedienne SHANN CARR
Friday, May 13, 2016 – 8:00 pm | One Night Only!
Marines’ Memorial Theater
609 Sutter Street (at Mason St.), 2nd floor, San Francisco 94102
Philanthropy and stellar entertainment take center stage as the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation (REAF) presents a special one-night-only benefit cabaret to raise funds for The Richmond /Ermet Aid Foundation.
$60 – VIP Front Orchestra – plus meet and greet with Steve after the show, limited to 100. $42 – Rear or Side Orchestra. $30 – Balcony. Tickets are available by phone by calling 415-273-1620 or online https://www.facebook.com/events/883926648394118/
Feel The Tel Aviv Vibe with Guy Scheiman
By BeBe Sweetbriar l www.bebesweetbriar.com
Guy Scheiman is one of the most successful DJs and producers on
the international club scene, with club bookings that span the
globe and official remixes for some of the world’s biggest stars,
including JLo, Kylie Minogue, Rihanna and Lady Gaga. Based in
Tel Aviv, Scheiman is known for his high energy sound that combines house, progressive, tribal and tech house with strong
melodies and memorable vocals all of which are present in his
current release, a remake of Say A Little Prayer with powerhouse
vocalist Katherine Ellis. His live sets feature strong grooves and
powerful basslines that ignite his dance floors and create
euphoric experiences. And, his official remixes and original
productions stand out as massive club anthems that combine his
love for high energy beats with passionate melodies and
memorable breaks. Scheiman has played some of the biggest
parties and clubs in the United States, Europe and the Middle
I spoke with Guy by phone from his home in Tel Aviv while he
was preparing for his rare visit to California to play in San
Francisco at the End Up on April 30 about his music, his record
label Guy Scheiman Music, the music and club scene in Tel Aviv
BeBe: It’s always a big risk when people take to doing a remake
at an extremely song such as Say A Little Prayer (1967) made
famous by Dionne Warwick, but also probably one of the most
covered songs in the world. How did you come to choose this
song to cover with Katherine Ellis?
Guy Scheiman: I have always liked the Aretha Franklin version of
Say A Little Prayer (1968). I always wanted to take that song to
another level and give it a twist. I took the original melody as a
reference, but especially with a cover, I like to give it a new twist.
I added more chords to give it that anthem feel, which is really
my thing. We made a very updated House track. I chose
Katherine Ellis because she is a powerhouse diva that sort of
reminded me of Aretha’s voice, and she is famous for all of the
collaborations she has done with the Freemasons.
BeBe: I love listening to you speak about how you constructed
this song because you are a musician and producer and you don’t
just spin or mix tracks at parties. I love how over the past 10
years or so it seems like DJ/Producers are getting that recognition from the industry. We see albums by DJs selling millions and topping the charts like Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and their name appearing as the artist of a project. Like your Say A Little Prayer features Katherine Ellis, but 20 years ago, this would have been solely a Katherine Ellis track.
Guy Scheiman: In one aspect it is an honor. Nowadays we do get
more recognition as DJ/Producers. But I think DJs were more
respected in the 80s and 90s because now everybody is a DJ
and/or producer. Everything is online. You don’t need special
equipment to create anymore. It’s all digital. The market is over
flooded. It’s really hard to stay current, up-to-date,
and relevant when there is so much stuff out there.
BeBe: But even with all of that, I still believe that in the long run
those who are well versed in the rudiments of music, such as you
and so many of my favorite DJs will always prevail and fallout on
top from the masses of DJs out there.
BeBe: Another one of my favorite tracks is your mix of ABBA’s
Lay Your Love On Me . It just makes me feel good. You can’t help
but shake your ass to it. Is it me or is it that bouncy Middle
Eastern flavor I hear in the mix?
Guy Scheiman: The influence was a bit of the local (Tel Aviv)
style. After all I’m from Tel Aviv, and though I produce on the
international level, sometimes I go back to my roots. I did use
the original vocals, but not all just part of the verse and the hook.
It’s more of a club anthem that some of our biggest DJs have
been playing at some of the huge circuit parties. The thing is
when you do an official remix for a big label, you have to
somewhat follow the things they want, unless they give you
complete freedom. But when you do your own stuff you can do
whatever you want which is why I started my own label Guy
Scheiman Music. With your own label, you can be true to yourself
and the sound you produce in your music.
BeBe: You have played at some of the biggest music festivals,
circuit parties and Prides across the world along with creating
some of the most recognizable mixes in the studio. How do you
compare playing sets before a live audience to creating in the
Guy Scheiman: For me, as much as I like to produce, to spin my
music live in front of an audience and see their faces and how
they dance and how they react to the music with their hands in
the air with enjoyment gives me life. It’s like charging an iPhone.
It gives me energy. At the end of the day, (DJs) are entertainers
here to give joy and pleasure for the people who come to listen to
BeBe: You have such a wealth of material released and out there
that we have come to love. How difficult, if at all, is it for you to
stay away from playing sets filled with just your produced music?
Guy Scheiman: My journey was coming from a clubber to being a
- Outside of just DJing a lot, I believe you have to be or have
been amongst them in order to understand what they want when
it comes to reading a crowd. And from that I like so many types
of music and have so many colleagues that produce wonderful
music. So for me to play just my stuff in a set is almost
impossible. I want to support and play the stuff I love from other
producers. If I play stuff track after track, the set would become
generic and maybe a bit boring. There are some DJs you go to
see in a (concert) that will play only their stuff, but when people
are coming to a club and not to a concert, you have to have a
BeBe: You will be playing an intimate place with The End Up on
April 30 for the club party PhoeniX. Do you do anything differently in your preparation to play an intimate club versus a huge festival or circuit party?
Guy Scheiman: With the festivals and circuit parties you have to
stay somewhat commercial in your music choices. You can’t go
really hard. Places not as big or small clubs let you be more
versatile and free. It allows you to be more interactive with the
crowd and throw (music) at them you wouldn’t dare play at a
Pride or big festival. The energy in a smaller crowd can be much
better than a place with 10,000 people where it can get lost. You
can get so much energy from 300 people shouting, jumping,
fanning and everything.
BeBe: You are consistently called upon to do remixes on your
colleague’s projects. That has to make you feel good professionally that you have that kind of respect from your peers.
Guy Scheiman: Of course, that is a big honor. But since I have
started Guy Scheiman Music, my label, I have been trying to
focus on my original stuff and have people remix my stuff. Since I
am building the label, I don’t I have much time to do remixes.
I’m busy making the original.
BeBe: You have a song soon to be released on your label called
Feel The Tel Aviv Vibe. It seems so timely because I hear so
much about the club and music scene over in Tel Aviv. There are
some great vocalists and other DJ/Producers coming out of Tel
Aviv putting out some amazing hits. It seems to be bangin’ over
there. How would you describe the club/music scene in Tel Aviv?
Guy Scheiman: Here in Tel Aviv, we are very aggressive. It is the
mentality of the Israeli people to always try to excel and try and
stay on top of everything they do. We don’t waste a lot of time.
We have a different pace. We like to live life to its fullest and the
best we can. We have a lot of talent here. I’m very proud of my
people and my colleagues.
DJ Guy Scheiman is a featured DJ at PhoeniX at The End Up on April 30. Guy Scheiman and Katherine Ellis Say A Little Prayer
available exclusively on Beatport.com. www.GuyScheiman.com
Celebrities’ Trash is Jason Mecier’s Artwork
By BeBe Sweetbriar l information provided by Lawrence Helman
Celebrity Trash is a new series of portraits in which pop artist Jason Mecier glorifies
Pop Culture Celebrities by salvaging their junk and trash: Pamela Anderson’s laundry;
Amy Schumer’s dental dam’s and Phyllis Diller’s anti-itch creams – just to name a few. Jason sorts and inspects each item then assembles the collected detritus into a visual kaleidoscope / scavenger hunt for his portraits.” I was originally making celebrity portraits with found objects, pretending these were the things they would have owned. Then I thought I should just ask the famous and infamous themselves to send me their junk and see what I could create,” says Mecier in a press release. “Phyllis Diller was the first. I received a box of her collected junk 3 weeks later! Then I thought if this is so easy, I’ll ask everyone to send me what they have to send.” Subsequent to items received from Phyllis Diller, Mecier has received junk from Rosie
O’Donnell, Margaret Cho, Parker Posey, Ricki Lake, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Hugh Hefner, Amy Schumer, Amy Sedaris, and Florence Henderson to help create the Celebrity Trash. Jason’s artwork is featured in the new Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Book, “Prepare to be Shocked!”, and Taschen’s Illustration “Now Portraits!” Jason portraits and mosaics have been featured as “ads” in prominent national magazines including: Skittles, Jack Links, Glad Bags, Asics, Red Vines, Wrigley’s, Ford, Quaker, Albertsons, The Food Network, Neiman Marcus, Aveeno, Corona Beer, MTV, W Hotels, Rolling Stone, Showtime, Entertainment Weekly, People, Harper’s, Seventeen, Nickelodeon, Cosmo Girl, Details, Soap Opera Weekly, The Advocate, The Village Voice and The NY Times.
CELEBRITY TRASH runs May 2-28, 2016 at 111 Minna Gallery
111 Minna St., (btw’n. 2 nd & New Montgomery Sts.) SF, 94105 (Montgomery St. BART).
Opening Reception: Fri. May 6, 2016 5:00 pm late. FREE Open to the Public.
Gallery Hours: 7:30 am 5:00 pm (21+) Daily also FREE.
Fresh Meat Productions presents
THE MISSING GENERATION
by Sean Dorsey Dance | Photos by Lydia Daniler
Exquisite new dance-theater based on oral history interviews
with longtime survivors of the early AIDS epidemic
* IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR ONE-WEEKEND-ONLY – PART OF A 20-CITY TOUR *
Thursday-Saturday May 5-7, 2016 (all shows 8pm)
Z Space (450 Florida Street, San Francisco CA, 94110) www.seandorseydance.com
2 ISADORA DUNCAN DANCE AWARDS
“Gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and spirit-lifting.” (Portland Sun Journal)
“Heartbreakingly beautiful – a dance portrait of contemporary LGBT history
that is profoundly relevant to all generations.” (San Francisco Bay Times)
To create THE MISSING GENERATION, Dorsey spent a year traveling the US to record 75 hours of oral history interviews with queer and transgender survivors of the early epidemic. Next, Dorsey spent more than 500 hours crafting an intricate, multi-layered score that incorporates clips of these remarkable interviews, haunting original music, and Dorsey’s own writing.
The soundscore – recently nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award – is broken into 17 sections that sweep the audience through history and into intimate first-hand experiences of the early AIDS epidemic.
Sean Dorsey Dance’s award-winning, multi-generational ensemble dances all 17 sections, pushing themselves to their physical and emotional limits – moving seamlessly between full-throttle dancing, live speaking and intimate storytelling. The company was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for “Best Company Performance” for THE MISSING GENERATION.
Thurs-Sat May 5-7, 2016 (8pm)
Thursday and Friday: Low-Income $15, General $20, Supporter $27
SATURDAY GALA performance and reception: Low-Income $20, General $27, Supporter $35