We’ve been huge fans of SUMif since one of our interns discovered her nearly a year ago. Her catchy vocals and melodic synths had us hooked the first time we heard In With Me, and continue to impress us track after track. When she agreed to go on 60 Questions with us, we were beyond stoked. Please welcome Steph, also known as SUMif!
Steph! We’re so glad to have you on 60 Questions this week.
Steph: Thank you, and of course!
The Excel nerds on our team absolutely love your name. Why did you choose SUMif?
Steph: I wanted something short, something people would mispronounce, and a nod to my inner nerd. So, my old co-worker was like, how about an excel function?
Can you write us a quick Steph formula for readers who don’t know what they look like?
Sounds like a formula we could get behind. When did you know you were going to be a musician?
Steph: I took piano lessons when I was young, but I didn’t know I wanted to make music a career until I was 13 and saw Sheryl Crow and Michelle Brand in concert. I went out and bought a bass guitar literally the next day and joined a band.
You mentioned you used to be a country singer, when/why did you shift to electronic?
Steph: I studied music business in college and after school went to Nashville to check out the songwriting scene. In Nashville my music began to lean more towards country, but it was still pop music with an acoustic guitar. I realized when I got to SF and started seeing a lot more live music, most of it was electropop/dancey music- which I really enjoyed. I saw opening bands that weren’t very good, but because they were playing dancey music, people were still having a great time. I always thought of electronic music production as impossible, but I found a guy on craigslist who showed me the basics which were pretty simple. After that I watched a million YouTube videos and basically taught myself how to produce music.
Very cool. What’s the best thing about living in SF?
Steph: Natural beauty and wonderful people.
What’s the worst thing about living in SF?
Steph: 6th and Market.
Couldn’t agree with you more. What country in the world would you love to visit?
Most of them, but off the top of my head the Maldives.
Name one thing you can’t live without?
Steph: Music… pizza?
Name one thing you could live without?
Steph: Olives, always messing up my pizza.
What’s one thing you have to have with you on set?
What’s one cause that you really care about?
Steph: LGBTQ+ youth.
What have you done to support LGBT youth?
After the past election, my friends and I really wanted to do something to support the LGBTQ+ community. In December we raised $12k for The Trevor Project, just by asking for donations online. So we figured if we threw an event, we could raise way more, and rock the world of a relatively small organization. We turned that idea into a reality and on July 13th, threw one hell of a gala where we raised over $110,000 for The Magic City Acceptance Center- an affirming space for LGBTQ+ youth in Birmingham, AL. Their annual operating budget is under $100k, and they have only one full time employee. We are made a massive impact in a highly rejecting area, and hopefully bringing a bit of the SF LGBTQ+ acceptance bubble to a very red state.
That’s so cool, and truly an amazing impact you guys had. Shifting gears a little bit- what was your first job?
Steph: A snowboard/wakeboard shop in LA.
What’s your favorite thing to eat?
We’re sensing a trend here! What’s your least favorite thing to eat?
Steph: Spicy things.
Did you go to senior prom?
Steph: I did
What did you wear?
Steph: A long-beaded gown, it was so silly
Beer or wine?
What’s your favorite bar in SF, and why?
Steph: El Rio- did someone say DARTY?
Who was your favorite musician growing up?
Steph: The Beatles or Sheryl Crow.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Steph: Building SUMif out of nothing, and my friends.
You’re stuck on an island. What are the 3 things you must have?
Steph: Water, pizza, and Spotify?
Do you have any tattoos?
Steph: Two- a small California Redwood tree, and a tandem bike that my best friends have matching ones of.
That’s really cool. How would you describe your sound?
Steph: Dancey Electropop.
Ski house or beach house?
Steph: That’s a very hard choice… I’ve got to say ski house though. More like a lake house in the mountains…
Who’s your favorite actor?
Steph: …literally just thought about this for 30 seconds and couldn’t come up with the name of a single actor except Channing Tatum who is definitely not my favorite actor.
Who’s your favorite actress?
Steph: Jennifer Lawrence.
Song that gets you turnt in the club?
Steph: TiK ToK by Ke$ha or Party in The U.S.A. by Miley Cryus.
Dogs or cats?
Steph: Dogs 10000%.
Favorite memory of this year?
Steph: Opening for Verite at Rickshaw Stop- sold out show, packed house, it was amazing.
What’s your favorite smell?
Steph: Camping! Like mountains, campfires, pine trees.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Steph: Either the ability to not need sleep, teleportation, or to know every single language.
Where do you find inspiration for your music?
Steph: Spotify, but also in my everyday surroundings.
What’s your favorite thing to wear?
How do you discover new music, besides following The Sahara Tent obviously?
Steph: Haha I see what you did there. Let’s go with Spotify curated playlists.
What’s the priciest thing you’ve ever splurged on?
Steph: Well music equipment isn’t exactly cheap.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
Steph: Lame answer, but I’ve never enjoyed a book as much as “Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea” by Chelsea Handler. I do read real books too though, promise.
Haha that’s a real book in our minds. Would you rather have to sing whenever you spoke, or dance whenever you walked?
Steph: I mean I already dance when I walk so…
Alright, we’re going to play a game called Hot and Cool. Basically, you have to decide whether you would date this person who’s super hot and super cool, but they have a weird condition.
So hot and cool, but they can only eat hot dogs.
Steph: Sure, no big deal.
Hot and cool, but they can’t dance.
Steph: I think I would have enough dance for both us, so yeah.
Hot and cool, but they get the hiccups once every hour.
Steph: Yeah why not?
Ok back to normal questions. How many languages can you speak?
Steph: Can I say 1.25? I was good at Spanish for a little bit but now I’m bad at it again.
Favorite kind of chips?
Steph: Salt and vinegar.
Yum! Do you have a favorite quote?
Steph: “Use what talent you possess, the woods would be very silent if no bird sang, except those that sang best” by Henry van Dyke.
That’s so good. What did you want to be when you grew up as a kid?
Steph: A Rockstar.
Fitting. Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Steph: Harry Potter 100x over.
What’s your favorite 50 cent song?
Steph: Go shawty it's yo birthday… In Da Club!
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Steph: A surprise party at a Tove Lo show where all my friends were there- a few of whom flew across the country!
What’s your favorite song to blast in the car?
Steph: As of today, Higher Ground by Odesza.
Do you remember what your first concert was?
Steph: Destiny’s child and Christina Aguilera.
That is epic! What musician would you love to collaborate with?
Steph: Tove Lo!
What’s your current obsession?
Steph: Tove Lo… and pizza. Dream combo.
What do predict you’ll be doing one year from now?
Steph: Opening for one of my favorite artists (did someone say Tove Lo?) on tour.
What about 10 years from now?
Steph: Writing music, babies, dogs, that sort of stuff.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Steph: Passionate, driven, and optimistic.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Steph: Don't give a fuck about what other people think of you.
Only a few more left, you’ve almost made it. What’s your spirit animal?
Steph: A Golden retriever.
What’s your biggest fear in life?
Steph: People close to me dying.
What’s your favorite curse word/phrase?
Steph: What the fuckkkk.
Alright last one. What song is stuck in your head right now?
Steph: Gonna have to go with Despacito.
This interview has been edited and condensed.