Episode 41: Unfortunately Steven: A Fantastical Amalgam of Rock n’ Roll & Musical Theater

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Today on the podcast we are featuring the Los Angeles-based experimental indie rock singer-songwriter, Unfortunately Steven. Learn more about him and listen to his track “The Art of Failure.”

Show Notes and Full Show Transcript

Just popping in to give you a heads up.  This podcast contains paid promotional content. That means we were compensated for the feature. All opinions are our own and we only choose to represent music that we truly dig. No on with the show.

Hey everyone welcome to the Eat Sleep Breathe Music podcast. I am your host Jeanette Kimszal. For those of you just joining us, this is the podcast where I talk about different musicians and how their music affects me and then play their track for you to listen to.

So you can check it out and form your own opinion as well. And I’d love to know what you think of the track if you’re so inclined to do so. 

And if you are interested in sharing your thoughts on this track and artist I’ll have details at the end of the show where you can leave your comments.

So today I am talking about the artist Unfortunately Steven. This is the moniker Steven Ramirez an experimental indie rock singer-songwriter from Los Angeles.

As a child, Steven was introduced to the Beatles and The Beach Boys by his family, and this firmly planted the musical seed in his mind’s eye. He began playing guitar at age 12, with piano soon to follow at age 13. Growing up as an only child, Steven felt the weight of his family’s instability. 

Wanting to please those around him he formed a comedic wit and hyper-awareness in order to cope with his family life.

At this time Steven developed Generalized Anxiety Disorder, moderate depression, and high levels of trauma.

He said his anxiety disorder caused him to feel everyone was upset or unhappy with him. He was constantly walking on eggshells constantly trying to please those around him. 

His need to please caused him to do a bunch of all-request piano shows after college. This led to a further decline in his mental health.

The gigs combined with his chemical imbalance led to a bad mental breakdown in the spring of 2016.

He was suffering from daily anxiety attacks and started to hear voices. 

He said he “became agoraphobic that only a mid 70’s Brian Wilson would be proud of.”

He used to think that everyone felt this way. It felt like a constant disco of negative thoughts in his head. It was an unease that was impossible to escape. He would pretend it wasn’t there until it became too overwhelming and he would retreat further into his mind. 

Music became his only escape. So it was at this time he began to concentrate on his music and started writing. 

It was a therapeutic experience and also a turning point for him. He realized that he needed therapy and was crying out for help.

At his wit’s end, Steven sought out a therapist, Randall Sokoloff, and began the work on mindfulness, meditation, and overall acceptance. Steven credits Randall with saving his life.

The song I will be playing is called “The Art of Failure.” It is off his expansive concept album “Groovy Avocado Disco” which is out now on all streaming platforms as well as some limited edition vinyl.

So the album’s title, Groovy Avocado Disco, is an acronym for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed, notes that Patients with GAD typically present with excessive anxiety about ordinary, day-to-day situations. 

The anxiety is intrusive, causes distress or functional impairment, and often encompasses multiple domains such as finances, work, ad health). 

The anxiety is often associated with physical symptoms, such as sleep disturbance, restlessness, muscle tension, gastrointestinal symptoms, and chronic headaches.  

And as someone who suffers from anxiety myself, I can relate to a lot of this. I would say my anxiety is more social anxiety not so generalized just because I know throughout my life I know I’ve always had a lot of problems going out and being around people.

Being in large groups and things. Although it’s weird because concerts don’t bother me (laughing). Maybe it’s because you’re focusing on something else.

But you know I have personally have dealt with this and it’s hard to deal with and it’s hard to live this is a serious issue and it’s nice he’s bringing to light this whole concept and taking it out of the shadows.

Because I think a lot of people think about mental illness as a problem and something that should be put under cover. It’s nice now that things are coming out and people are using music as a way to deal with their emotions. Deal with their anxiety.

So basically for him this and the rest of this album were born out of him facing his struggles and the harsh realities around mental illness.

It’s just kind of a nice, nice thing to put out there. It’s showing what he went through. So you know people can connect with what he’s feeling if they are going through the same things.

In addition to being meaningful and having something important to say his music is also very catchy and enjoyable.

His sound is described as an amalgamation of indie rock, musical theater, psychedelia, and the wall of sound.

He has been said to fuse elements of Harry Nilsson, Daniel Johnston, and Fiona Apple. 

To me, he kind of reminds me of this band called Ludo which I remember them being very musical theater and kind of similar big sounds and lots of instruments. That’s what it reminds me of.

But you know so for this album coupled with his mental health journey this album was inspired by concept albums like  “Pet Sounds”, “The Wall” and “The Point!”

And this song I really like you know. It opens with a somewhat ominous piano and bass waverings. It almost reminds me a little bit like not the jaws theme so much but it’s got that bump bump.

And then you hear Steven’s singing almost whispering in your ears and you get a few lyrics and you’re not sure what to expect and then he says “I don’t know about you/But I know that it’s true/that I’m a failure/A woo hoo

And it gets the listener interested in what’s to come next. And then it hits you hard with this additional instrumentation.

This song infuses muti-instruments there’s piano, there’s percussion, and there’s saxophone.

And it celebrates the art of not being the best and realizing that it’s ok. It’s the most upbeat number. For a song that is kind of about failing you know? It’s upbeat and happy and it’s a nice dichotomy.

You know? The feeling low but also feeling kind of realizing that happens in life and getting through these mental struggles and working through the way we feel is very therapeutic and it’s just.

The song itself as I said is very therapeutic because it goes through goes ups and downs and the chorus. It’s almost recognized in the music. I would say this is an upbeat number. There is not so much downtrodden music but it’s pleasant.

It’s very upbeat and it’s got this 60’s rock and roll with its big piano and saxophone and percussion and sing-a-long choruses.

It just makes you feel good. It’s a really happy track and also it’s kind of real. It has a message. It’s a nice concept of putting things together.

You’re kind of understanding the things Steven is going through and it’s kind of funny because failing never sounded so good. 

I think It’s about embracing your failures and realizing that it’s ok to fail. If you are struggling therapy and learning how to understand what is going on in your brain can help you get through.

Because this is something that helped him. This music is a nice lesson to those who may be struggling with similar issues.

But overall yeah, I really enjoyed it. 

And some of the other musicians in the band. I just wanted to give information on that. So Steven plays lead vocals, piano, keyboards, and guitar. 

He is accompanied by guitarist Ryan Jarvis, bassist Mark Pacificar, organist  Doug Wayne, lap steel player JD Carrera, baritone bassist Shawn Grindle, bassist, piano, and accordion player Leana Courtney, drummer and percussionist Katin Burns, drummer, and percussionist Joesph Quintana, harp player Cristina Black, violinist Gina Romantini, background vocalist Rondrequel McCloud, background vocalist Jake Novak, background vocalist Caitlin Beale, trumpet player Peter Gutierrez, saxophonist Zach Reed, and trombone player Ryan Kiernan.

And forgive me if I have butchered any of those names (laughing). 

So I would say this is a fantastic track and if you’re into multi-instrumental rock and roll with a hint of musical theaterr this is right up your alley. 

But enough of my chatter now without further ado I will play for you “The Art of Failure” by Unfortunately Steven.

Just giving you a heads up the track featured in this podcast contains cursing and explicit lyrics. This may not be suitable for some listeners. Just be advised about that.

But without further ado here is the song “The Art of Failure” by Unfortunately Steven.

We would love to know what you think about Unfortunately Steven and his track “The Art of Failure.” You can tell us in a comment on the podcast webpage. You can also leave an audio comment at the link in the episode summary.

For more information on Unfortunately Steven check out his Bandcamp page. That is U-N-F-O-R-T-U-N-A-T-E-L-Y-S-T-E-V-E-N dot B-A-N-D-C-A-M-P dot com. 

You can also follow him on Instagram at the handle UnfortunatelySteven. That is U-N-F-O-R-T-U-N-A-T-E-L-Y-S-T-E-V-E-N.

If you are looking for more new music be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you will get the latest updates on our artist features. You can also find more music features on our website at www.EatSleepBreatheMusic.com. That is E-a-t-S-l-e-e-p-B-r-e-a-t-h-e-M-u-s-i-c dot com. 

Thanks for listening and see you in the next episode!

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