Thursday, October 6, 2022

INTERVIEW | 'This Is Everything For Us' - Gold Steps Talk Beginnings, New EP 'That Ain't It' and Music Videos

Gold Steps are marking a new era with new EP, That Ain't It.

The release is the first one on a label for Liz Mauritz (vocals), Zach Duarte (guitar), Ryan Rivas (bass) and Mike Britz (drums). They signed with Revival Recordings earlier this year and, after a short hiatus and pandemic, they are back and raring to go - and currently on a huge US tour with SayWeCanFly.

They were happy to spare some time from their busy lives to chat all things about the band with me!  


I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me today! For those who are unfamiliar, how did Gold Steps come to be?

Liz: Back in 2016, I [was] in a band with Zach, our guitarist. That band wasn’t going in the creative direction we wanted to. Since we were writing most of the songs, we decided it was time for us to move on [so] we left that band and started Gold Steps. We played around the Austin area for a while and started going out on tour pretty quickly after that. We released our first EP in 2016, released a second EP in 2018 and that’s when we really started hitting the road. We got to play Warped tour, we did a couple of shorter tours and then we did a full US tour in 2019 with Calling All Captains and Settle Your Scores.

In between those times we were getting in the studio, recording new demos and stuff to send to labels. Then in 2019, we decided to step back for a minute and take a break. We relocated to Milwaukee, which is where I’m from. We decided to get settled for a little bit [but] Covid happened before we were able to really situate ourselves and get new band members. It took a little bit but, towards the end of 2020, we decided to really start looking and commit to getting back to music. We found Ryan, our bassist, and drummer, Mikey. We started writing songs right away. We had our producer and co-writer come up to Milwaukee and we wrote three songs and added that to some of these demos that we’d recorded over the past couple of years and put it together as an EP,.

Revival Recordings reached out to us in either late 2021 or early 2022, kept the conversation going and we decided to sign with them earlier this year. They’re putting out our new record this October.

Covid hitting during that little hiatus was not particularly ideal. How was that time for you as a band? And as creatives in general?

Liz: In a couple of ways, it reinforced some of the thoughts I already had about putting yourself/self-care first, and putting family and personal needs ahead of your artistry. A lot of artists know that you sometimes put so much into your creative work that you forget to actually take care of yourself. You experience this crazy burnout. We’d hit that burnout point and decided to move to my home, so we could be closer to family. When the pandemic hit, it was almost validating that we made the right choice at the time to move closer to family - otherwise we would’ve been stuck in Austin, worrying. 

As far as a rest break during that time? Even though we weren’t writing music necessarily, we were throwing ourselves into helping at our jobs. Zach’s job was considered essential work, he never stopped working. I was off for a couple of weeks but then I went back in to help, helping in any capacity that I could. So, we were still working fulltime during the pandemic.

Ryan, you weren’t really part of the band yet but you were in a bit of a different situation being stuck in Chicago.

Ryan: Yeah, I had lost my job because of the pandemic. I found myself sitting in my apartment day in, day out, during the beginning. Luckily I was able to find remote work that got me through. I ended up buying a guitar - I’m primarily a bass player. I took that time to write my own music and none of it will ever be aired anywhere because it’s terrible *laughs*. It gave me a chance to really focus on the creative things that I love. I really took that time to get back into music and, luckily, the stars aligned and I was able to find Zach and Liz once things started to recede. We made the most of that time. Even in 2021 it wasn’t totally over [but] that’s when the three of us and Mike, our drummer, really started to hone in our skills together and build on what had been started previously.

Zach: We learned how to practice, without amps, in our headphones, all electronically just in a basement. It was awesome being able to do that because we couldn’t find a practice space that was open. That actually branched out for us to start using in-ear monitors and stuff like that to up our live performance.

Liz: It was tough, though, getting new members and practicing constantly [and] then not being able to book shows. We were so excited to debut this new era but it was all put on hold. It made us so, so grateful when we were able to start playing shows again and able to get out there.  We’re so, so appreciative that we get that chance to still tour and have people hear our music. 

What is it like to balance those jobs with the band? You’re about to embark on a huge tour, how do you make time for both?

Liz: We don’t have social lives! *laughs* Everything we do is based around the band. We go out for drinks after practice and we’ll end up talking about music. We always end up meeting people and inviting them to our shows. We should carry stickers more but, when we do, we pass them out. The three of us live together, we essentially travel as a unit everywhere that isn’t our jobs. We’re always representing the band where we are, be it the grocery store or the gym. We’re always together, this is everything for us.

Zach: We have an upcoming tour that’s a month long. From September 30th to October 30th, we’re all taking leaves of absence from our jobs and not getting paid. It’s gonna be tough but it’s all gonna be worth it.

Liz: Yeah. You do what you love.

Ryan: We’re fortunate because all of our positions are not going away after the tour. It's endearing to know that our workplaces are allowing us to take this large leave of absence which, especially in the US, you don’t really see a ton of vacation time. The fact that all our companies are allowing us to do this is exciting.

The new EP, That Ain’t It, will be your first on Revival Recordings. Why did you decide to make the leap from unsigned to signed? Was it just the next logical step?

Liz: I think it was part of that. Having a team is really, really helpful when we’re all working full-time. There’s not enough hours in the day. If I had a superpower, it would be splitting myself into two halves so I could do all the things I want to do. I love my job! But I love singing and performing more than anything in the world…beside my husband. 

For us, it made sense. Kevin from Revival Recordings, he’s our A&R rep, he came to us. We weren’t searching anyone out but he approached us. He had found us back in 2019 and I guess there might’ve been a couple of little conversations back and forth with our manager at the time but we weren’t part of that. We’re currently unmanaged, so we’re independent outside of the label - we do everything ourselves other than what the label helps with. Kevin approached us and we had some casual conversations. He wanted to know about us, what motivated us to start the band, what we wanted to do with it. It all really felt supportive from the beginning and as we got to know more of the team and talk more, it really felt like they were going to let us keep as much creative control as possible. They don’t get in the middle of anything. We say what kind of merch we want to offer for our pre-orders, we make our own album covers, they don’t have anything to do with how we write our songs or who we write them with. They just help us with the marketing side of things.

Zach: They help us branch out.

Liz: They’re helping us get our music out to the world. We have the same goal, to make our band as successful as possible so we can be out on the road as much as we can, so we can be meeting new fans so those fans can tell other people about us, and just help our growth reach more and more people. They are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. It made sense because we could not reach a larger audience continuing on independently the way we were, unless we got like a viral TikTok or something. We had reached our ceiling as an independent band - they could help us make the next leap.

We’ve only been on the label officially for about two months but there’s never a sour moment between us. They’re endlessly supportive and we can’t thank them enough. 

You talk about marketing and social media is, of course, a huge part of that these days. It’s how I discovered you guys, through Instagram so, clearly, it’s working to some degree! What advice do you have for artists that are looking to use social media platforms to branch out and grow?

Ryan: Well we’re actually looking for tips from anyone that can help us with TikTok *laughs* We’re trying our hardest to grow on TikTok. In this day and age, you see it everywhere. Social media is another form of marketing for your band. It’s not about record sales anymore as much as it is getting your face out there and showing everyone what you’re doing. We’re guilty of it too, we’re always glued to our phones. Everyone is on their phone nowadays and to get people’s attention, you have to stand out. 

The most important thing that we’ve learned, and we’re still trying to get better at, is being consistent with our presence on all platforms. We’re really good with Instagram but you have to diversify and make sure you’re hitting up everything. TikTok is huge right now for music. It’s a saturated market with musicians trying to do what we’re trying to do. The only way you’re going to get ahead is if you put your foot down on the gas pedal and continue on. It’s quite a learning curve.

Liz: The biggest thing that turns me off about social media is people being ingenuine. It’s kinda hard to walk that line. Last night we put a video up, we were playing a show, and after reviewing it I was like ‘that feels so marketing-y’. It felt branded, too curated. One thing we have to let go of, because we’re so critical of ourselves, especially me - I will be the first to knock something down and be like ‘nope that wasn’t perfect, redo it’. I think that’s why we’ve been so hesitant about TikTok because I can’t stand watching a video of myself like ‘ooh, that looks terrible’. Most people don’t care the same way that I care.

You never know when stuff is gonna change. We used to be so on top of Facebook but that's not where things are anymore. You have to go to where the people are. There’s still a lot of people on it but they’re not as active in groups as they used to be. You go to them and hope the algorithm picks you up.

Zach: Put sponsored ads out there. You never know who it’s gonna reach. You can actually set regions, countries, cities for your ads.

Liz: When we’re going on tour, we’ll look up the cities we’re playing in and send out an ad that’s directed. Now we have Chris at Herd Marketing handling our stuff. The dude is a genius. He is able to curate something that’s so incredibly well tuned, it works so quickly. We used to just throw $3 a day at an ad and just move it around regions we knew we would be visiting soon. His work has really spoken volumes over the last month and a half in seeing our growth. 

Your 2018 EP Incandescent tackles mental health struggles and, now, moving onto your new EP, we’re seeing themes of empowerment. Things have changed bandwise between the two releases but, to me, it feels like a natural progression. Is that fair to say?

Liz: I definitely write things that are reflective of what I’m experiencing at the time. I wish I could dive into my past to bring some things up but I like to write when things are pretty raw. Usually when I write a song, it’s reflective of where my head is at in that moment.

So with our first couple of EPs, there’s a lot of mental health; a little bit more exasperation kind of feelings like hopelessness, trying to find hope, things like that. With our newest EP, I think part of it was just getting a little bit older and away from being in the college scene or too much into the party scene and really taking steps to take care of myself first. 

That empowerment phase really started to creep in when I realized I was wasting a lot of energy and effort on people who didn't appreciate that energy and effort and were dragging me down with their own toxic behaviors. Taking a step back from that, and therapy, played a huge role in realizing that I have the power to make my own decisions and I have the power to remove myself from people who aren’t helping me be the best version of myself. You have to put your own mask on before you help others - you gotta save yourself before you can save somebody else. I think a lot of the empowerment really comes from that, that I’m the one in control of my own destiny and I’m not going to let somebody else derail me from where I want to be. That’s where a lot of the new themes come from.

Something that I noticed - and loved - when doing a deepdive of your music is that you guys have made some great music videos. With the rise of streaming and such, I feel it’s becoming something of a dying art…is that something you’re conscious of when releasing new music? To make that extra effort to create a memorable video?

Liz: I’m a little crazy when it comes to our music videos. For the videos we did for Incandescent, I would write out a shot list, second by second, of what I was envisaging was happening, and I would direct the shoot when doing it. We’ve done that with some of our newer videos too, although I’ve taken a little bit less of an intense approach because our current videographer, Eddie Curran - I can speak to him, tell him what I’m thinking and he makes it happen even more beautifully than I would expect it to. He really understands what I’m going for. Eddie drums for a band called The Keystones so him also being in a band [means] he knows what it’s like to be an artist and want that visual imagery to come out in a certain way. 

Definitely when we finish a song and are listening to it, the second we get that track back I’m already thinking about [a video]. If I could do a music video for every song, I would. I love it. It’s like having a little film that drives home where my head was at with a song. It’s just really fun. I like acting and I like doing all that sort of thing. It just gives me another excuse to dress up in fun outfits and be sassy. 


That Ain't It is out Friday.

More information on Gold Steps and info about their upcoming shows can be found on their website.

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