Sam Grundemann, known professionally as Staytus, is a composer, songwriter, musician, vocalist, audio engineer, and producer who is a master at crafting soundscapes that are expansive, loud, and modern. She is also an Avid Certified Pro Tools Operator of Music and Postproduction, and has college degrees in art, audio production and sound design.
Staytus will soon be releasing her 13-track debut album, Disease Of The Mind, a seismic first strike on the goth/industrial scene, where she sings about heartbreak, despair, resentment, and reality slipping away. Staytus wrote, sang, produced, and recorded Disease Of The Mind, as well as played every instrument on the album. She also worked with Grammy-nominated music producer Adam W. Berg for Disease Of The Mind’s final mixing and mastering at Manifest Music, a state-of-the-art music production facility in Santa Monica, California.
The songs on Disease Of The Mind are built on elaborate synthscapes with distorted, warped guitars and pulsating beats, creating an industrial soundscape that will take listeners on an emotional catharsis; while the production of the album is abrasive and aggressive, reflecting the uncomfortable turmoil of the material. Staytus meshes dark, poetic lyrics on the album with visceral vocals, demanding you feel her anguish and pain.
“I had to write Disease Of The Mind to cope with my mental health struggles,” Staytus explains. “I truly felt like a broken, fallen angel when I composed this album. Acknowledging your feelings of hurt, anger, and despair can help you move through them to find hope and relief.”
Staytus has shared three singles that set the tone of the immersive album. “Dreams From Hell” is a sonic, visceral piece describing the pain and anguish of experiencing abuse over and over again. The second track, an emotional plea for validation and love before time runs out, is called “Hourglass”; and the third song, “Part of Me,” is a haunting, melancholy appraisal of unrequited love.
Describing the inspiration and creative process behind these singles from her upcoming album, Staytus tells us:
“Dreams From Hell – This song is probably my most experimental track on the entirety of the album, production-wise. I had a lot of fun recording the production elements of this song. I used a lot of vintage MacOS 9 audio technology for the effects. The written parts and instrumentation were thrown into the likes of Digidesign TurboSynth, Arboretum HyperPrism Plug-in Pack, ReBirth RB-338, Native Instruments Reaktor, and MetaSynth. The meaning of the song is about my struggles with PTSD and the symptoms that can come with it, such as intrusive/ruminating thoughts, self-harm, and even hallucinations or psychosis. It’s like an endless cycle of remembering who hurt you.
Hourglass – I sampled the synthesizer part from a Steven Wilson track called “Abandoner.” I chopped and screwed it and then put some iZotope Trash 2 waveshaper distortion on it. The meaning of this song is about trying to reach success before death. I was basically singing my heart out about the anxieties I had about my fears of aging and dying. I understand that death is a natural process, and we all go through it, but it gives me anxiety to think about when exactly it will happen.
Part Of Me – This is a special song to me, probably because I wrote and recorded the vocals right on the spot. I originally recorded, wrote, and sung it in a burst of creativity and emotion, while I was daydreaming in my bedroom. The song is about a parasocial relationship of a fan. The fan longs to be adored by their love interest, even if they have no idea who they are or if they even feel the same about them.”
Staytus adds, “For the listeners who haven’t listened to my music before, I can describe it as nu-goth, which borrows elements from industrial rock and grunge rock. It’s a journey that takes you into the mind of somebody struggling with mental illness.”
“Dreams From Hell” begins with percussive electronic rhythms punctuated by bass notes, creating a sound that is dynamic yet starkly cold and metallic-sounding. A range of synth effects then enter the mix, adding further complexity to the song’s rhythmical structure and bringing about an eerie, futuristic mood. As the first verse begins, Staytus relates the track’s dark lyrical passages with vocals that echo at the end of each line, building quite well on the song’s bleak atmosphere. The bridge and following chorus are then characterized by distorted synth leads, underscoring the feelings of anguish conveyed by Staytus’s compelling vocals and lyrics. A deep, electric guitar-like melody joins in for the introspective next verse, while whirring synths later bring about a suspenseful atmosphere that leads perfectly into the emotional intensity of the following bridge and chorus. The track then concludes with a hauntingly poetic final verse that reminds listeners of the recurring nature of pain from experiencing abuse.
At the same time that “Dreams From Hell” poignantly expresses the suffering associated with PTSD, it is also quite an enjoyable listen that highlights Staytus’ brilliant songwriting and superb musicianship. I would highly recommend this track to fans of industrial- and alternative rock alike.
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