Steven Walker, or YouTuber Steven in Stereo, is a down to Earth guy anyone could relate to, whether it’s moving homes, jamming to music, or working that customer service grind. Even with a subscription base of 180K and growing his straight edge lifestyle has given him the free time to spend with his family, music, and of course YouTube. Currently, twenty-nine years young he’s Vegan-ing it up with his lovely wife of seven years who is a music nerd much like himself.
Before becoming a music YouTuber he’s worked at Whole Foods as a manager, Hot Topic, and with Dementia and Alzheimer patients in an assisted-living home. He’s really had some well-rounded experiences. Born in Houston, Texas he gets the Southern mindset but knows the beauty of spreading his wings and is currently vibing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There is so much to know about the guy that is Steven Walker but we’ve only given you the highlights.
Let’s hear what he has to say:
Get To Know Steven In Stereo
Before deciding to do YouTube full time, did you ever have any crazy customer service stories?
HA, I don’t think you can work with the general public and NOT have crazy stories. I can think of one in particular that still haunts me: I worked at this DIVE of a restaurant in Magnolia, TX. It was rough, dirty, and poorly managed, I made about $70 bucks a week. Well, we had this lady and her family that were regulars and she was so nice. She was covered in tattoos and would always talk to me about mine and stuff, and then would always tip really well.
The restaurant decided to cook full turkeys for thanksgiving one year and customers would come and pick them up. So the day ofThanksgiving I worked the pick-up counter and that lady comes in to pick up her turkey. She tipped me 10 bucks (I didn’t even have to do anything besides grabbing the turkey for her) and she was on her way. I remember turning around to answer a phone about 5 minutes later and I heard a door slam. I turned around and here she is stomping through the restaurant. She gets up to the counter and begins to complain to me about how poor the turkey is cooked. I start doing my best to apologize and she interrupts me to let me know that I “have ruined her entire holiday now.” I tell her quickly that I will refund her immediately and get her a replacement. That was the last sentence I could get out before I felt the oily dead skin of turkey sliding across my cheek and down my face. She threw an entire turkey at me.
That was the last time I ever saw her.
What made you decide to start filming and sharing your reactions to music? Explain the transition from being a music aficionado to a YouTuber.
So a lot of people don’t know this but I originally started out as a vlogger. I never really knew what to talk about because I was just a music dude. My brother (hi Justin) told me about reaction channels and I hadn’t ever seen one before (actually until like a year ago I hadn’t ever really watched one) and how he thought I would be good at it because of my love for music. So one day I gave it a shot. My first few videos I didn’t even know what I was doing so I just rolled with it. Luckily for me, the person that you see on camera is ACTUALLY what I look like when I am listening to music in real life. I started reading comments and getting feedback and a lot of people liked my approach to the videos. So I just started filming videos every single day and sharing passion through discovering new artists and reviewing artists I already loved. I always feel like I am not very good at this stuff, but I just take the feedback from people that actually watch! It’s easy to do for me because I am getting to just be myself all day every day.
I will say that my videos over the last 4 months are better than anything I ever put out before that. The person in those old videos was so depressed and anxious and I can actually see it when I watch them back. I am so glad I can let those walls down now! It’s like hanging out with all your friends every day!
What video of yours made you realize that talking about music and/or books on YouTube was something that you were good at?
So I had done a few in the first week and I started falling down a twenty-one pilots rabbit hole and ended up on the ‘Car Radio’ video. I cried. I decided I was just gonna post it anyway despite my meltdown in the video. After reading the comments of people talking about me being honest, pure, and having a knowledgeable background on music, I had no intention of looking back. It’s been an ongoing passion turned career!
You have a Book Review channel as well. Would you say your passion for reading matches your passion for music? Give us some book recommendations. What’s on your summer reading list?
Ah, my new love for reading! I am so glad you are asking about this! Reading is new for me because up until getting mental health treatment, I never had to focus to be able to read. Now, I feel like I always have my face in a book. Because this journey is so new, I can’t say that it quite matches my love for music just yet, but it’s coming close!
Some great books for you to check out this summer would be:
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James (literally the best book I have read so far.)
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (I stan that women so hard. Read everything from her if you can!)
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (This one will leave you questioning everything.)
The Shadows by Alex North (Also wrote Whisper Man.)
My summer reading list keeps growing because my subscribers keep telling me more and I am a sucker for a bookstore!
Is there anything you think your audience really loves to see in your videos that you always try to incorporate without making every video the same?
I really think that what my viewers like most about my videos is that I allow my personality to shine through. My intent with every video I make is to be open-minded and honest while making sure that viewers can feel how I feel about what we are listening to. I have always done my best to bring respectful criticism when I feel it’s needed but without trying to attack ANYONE that I feature on my channel. I think that mixed with some air drums and positivity is what keeps people coming back just to jam with me, even if they don’t know the artist!
If you could collab with any artist or another YouTuber for a video, who would you choose and what kind of video would you create with them?
This is one of those questions that are so hard to answer because being in the position I have been lucky enough to achieve, I have relationships with people that I never thought would have known my existence. There are so many incredible YouTubers and it’s hard not to just name them all. But if I have to choose, I will always go to Ashley Ippolito (reacts by ash). Not only is she absolutely HILLARIOUS, but she has been nothing but supportive of me. I reached out to her back before I had 100k subscribers and she had an email chain with me back and forth trying to help me out with stuff. Since then we have become twitter friends and she has always been willing to DM and encourage me to try stuff. She is a really cool person with a great personality and I hope she doesn’t mind that I am going on and on about her on here! Hi Ash!!
I would def want to watch some movies and do some commentary content with her. She is so quick with jokes and wit and I feel like she would outshine (as she should) if we ever did a video together!
Do you remember the first album you purchased? How has that impacted your love for a wide variety of genres?
This question will probably help to understand why my Spotify looks like such a hot mess all the time. Other than some country cassettes when I was young, I think my first CD was Spice Girls “Spice World.”
My second cassette was a mortal kombat soundtrack that had bands like Powerman 5000 on it. I also had Metallica’s black album on cassette because my dad loved that album. But this little mess of music continued to grow and then I added in “The Slim Shady LP” and started falling down the rabbit hole of rap. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out in like ’98 or something and I was introduced to punk rock. The rest has been history!
Were your parents big on music? Did their taste have any impact on your own or did you find your own sound?
My parents were definitely big on radio jams for sure. My parents really liked Eminem’s stuff and I remember them buying me a bootleg copy of The Eminem Show before it dropped.
I will say that I have to give credit for the majority of my taste to my Uncle, Tracy. He was an old school punk dude and because of that had such a good collection of music. One time I let him borrow my stack of CDs and when he gave them back to me he accidentally left a Minor Threat and FEAR CD in with my n’sync and Limp Bizkit CDs. Those two albums sent me searching for more from him and I ended up getting into punk and hardcore which lead to both straight edge and veganism. It is crazy when you think about how the smallest things in life can impact you on such a big scale!
Based on your videos, we can see that your music taste is broad, and your love for music runs deep. If you didn’t do youtube, would you consider a job in the music industry? If so, what can you envision yourself doing?
Funny enough, I have always just wanted to be involved in music somehow. Videos ended up being what gave me my foot in, but I would love to somehow be involved in the writing or promotion of artists. I used to just want to tour but with being married and having a family of animals, the thought of being away from them makes me super sad.
Your love for Taylor Swift is widely known. Which era of hers do you wish you’d been present and in the moment for?
RED. I don’t even have to think for a second about that. I remember when the RED album dropped. I had just got out of a long relationship and I bought the Vinyl of it but I NEVER opened it because I didn’t think I was in the right head space for it. Fast forward to doing an entire video on my channel about that album and let’s just say, I am glad that I didn’t listen to it back then.
But I would have LOVED to have seen the RED tour live. I just….that album hits differently from the rest of her discography. When she is hurt, she makes you feel it. I will die for RED.
2020 has been a challenge for everyone. What are some coping mechanisms which have been working best for you to maintain positivity?
A challenge is definitely one way to put it. It’s been outright nuts. My wife is a healthcare worker and has been working with COVID patients since the very beginning. So quarantine plus having that stress has been a lot around my house. One thing that I have been doing is making sure that every day I am picking a few passions of mine and dedicating time to them. Sometimes it’s grabbing a stack of my favorite vinyl and listening to music for an hour or so. Sometimes it’s reading a book.
But one thing that I have been doing a better job of is speaking to family and friends more. As an introvert, I am sort of used to the isolation, but I realize that a lot of my loved ones are not that way. I think having those relationships taken care of creates more positive moments on a day to day basis.
You’re always very outspoken on your mental health and how you’re feeling, and as such have become something of a mental health advocate across several social media platforms. How does it feel to have one of your struggles become a great source of encouragement to others and how does that knowledge impact your own mental health battles?
Ah, this is such a great question. I have struggled with my mental health for my entire life. It started with anxiety at a very young age and then it got mixed with depression after I experienced trauma, and that led me to the beautiful mess that is me! I didn’t decide to get help until I was 29 but I didn’t want to admit there was anything wrong with me. For whatever reason, I decided that I would tweet out just one thing about finally getting help. I was overwhelmed with the response from that tweet and how many people were tweeting and dm’ing me about how it gave them the courage to do the same.
I realized then that I always felt that I didn’t get help sooner because of the stigma that existed with mental health. So I wanted to be a voice for people because I never felt like I had that growing up. Having that kind of impact on people can be scary at times, but it has been a very rewarding thing as far as my mental health is concerned. It helps me on days when I can barely get out of bed to know that even if I just post one video, there could be someone watching that who had been struggling, and maybe they forgot about it for 10 minutes. I speak with my therapist a lot about this and it has been really good for me to be so transparent!
It seems that a lot of choices in your personal life stem from an awareness of the world around you. From veganism to the straight-edge lifestyle, you’ve made thoughtful and selfless choices to better the world through bettering your own habits and actions. That can’t have been an easy transition. What advice would you give to someone who might want to emulate that lifestyle?
I got into both straight edge and veganism through punk rock and hardcore music. It was one of those moments where I first heard about it and it just clicked with me. It was one of the only things that just made sense to me. I really think of the album name (and saying) “Live your heart and never follow,” by Set It Straight. When you are doing something that you love and are passionate about, it doesn’t take much effort being that person. Despite the world going on around you, you have to stay true to yourself and your choices. I say that to say that if people want to emulate a similar lifestyle, they just have to live that life for themselves. I saw the destruction that was caused on lives around me from drugs and alcohol and realized that I didn’t care if other people did them, I just didn’t want to participate.
I witnessed the cruelty towards animals and I realized that I could not live with myself any longer knowing I was adding to that suffering. I know that these things are the only way I can be the best version of myself at all times.
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