Singer and songwriter Steve Grand will performing at this year’s Baltimore Pride Festival on Sunday, July 26 at Druid Hill Park in northwest Baltimore. The openly gay singer, who became an online viral sensation after the 2013 release of his debut single “All American Boy,” has been writing and playing music since a young age. Grand launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in February 2014 which led to the creation and spring 2015 release of his debut full-length album, All American Boy. Gay Life recently chatted with Grand to discuss his new album, his music and why he’s more than just a pretty face.
How excited are you to be part of Baltimore Pride Festivities this year?
I’m super excited! I always love performing at Pride festivals. Pride has always been a special thing for me since my first one at 19. It’s was a very liberating experience and it still is today.
What can audiences expect from this upcoming performance?
They can expect to hear a lot of music from the record that I just released. I also like to do some things different when I perform live. There are certain parts of the performance that really come to life in a live setting. There is definitely a unique, magical feeling when I perform live. It’s a good time. I really like connecting very directly and personally with my audience. I try to go out and touch them. [Laughs] I like to wave my hand through them and make a lot of eye contact. I like to make it special and put a lot into my performance.
Have you ever been to Baltimore prior to this performance?
I have never been to Baltimore. This will be my first time!
Your music is very personal. Could you talk a little about your creative process?
I’ve written songs all different kinds of ways. Sometimes the words come first. Sometimes the music comes first. Some of my most personal work often happens all at once. I’ll write it essentially in one sitting. I was about 11 or 12 is when I first started to write songs.
Growing up in a Catholic family, in the suburbs of Chicago, you’ve discussed how it was struggle coming to terms with your sexuality. Is that something that resonates in your music?
I think that comes out in all sorts of ways. It’s probably a little more subtle in my music. I think longing is a common theme in my music. I think that has to do with learning to be ok with yourself and learning to accept yourself for who you are. There are also songs like “We Are the Night.” I wrote that song coming to terms with who I was. I had the whole thing in my mind when I was writing “We Are the Night.”
Do you look at yourself as a role model LGBT youth who are coming out?
I don’t think anyone would ever want to admit to viewing themselves as a role model. I am aware that I have young fans and I try to live by a few basic principles. One of those principles is being true to who I am both as an artist and a human being. I also try to put more good back into the world than bad. I at least hope that at the end of it all I have done more good than bad.
What is something that you hope listeners take away from your music?
I think, like we were saying earlier, there’s a part of my music at its core, but more in a subtle way, about being ok with who you are and loving who you are. There’s an element about celebrating who you are as a unique person in this world. I think that a big theme is growing up and accepting yourself as an adult. I wrote most of these songs between 19-23 and I see that as more of a transition between youth into adulthood. I feel like it’s a longer transition for us Millennials. It’s a much more blurred line when you start to feel like an adult. I think that we have to deal with a lot of things now, including the economy (laughs).
Not only are you a talented singer, but you have the looks to match. Do you still model or is music your only primary focus at this time?
[Laughs] Thank you for not making that your first question! I haven’t actively done any modeling since I was 19, so it’s been a long time. Already at 25 you’re beginning to get a little old for most things you can do. I never made any money from it. I was just beginning to build a portfolio. I only did about four photo shoots and people are reposting it from years ago. I don’t have any regrets. It’s where I was at the time.
Gay Life June 2015