Samuel Stein: An exploration of honest music

UWEC student writes and performs original songs

Bridget Kelley

More stories from Bridget Kelley


Photo by Elena Dawson

Samuel Stein will perform some of his music at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 at The Plus.

Being a young adult is all about finding a way to make sense of what is going on in the world and finding a way to describe it. This is not an easy task for most.

The way Samuel Stein, a first-year math and music composition student, makes sense of his world is through creating music. Stein said he has been creating and recording music since early high school as a way to understand the world around him.  

“I grew up in a music household,” Stein said. “It just makes sense to me because I interpret the world very musically and emotionally. So, I just want to put the things that I understand and feel in my surroundings into music because you can’t explain everything. Music can do that.”

Stein said he doesn’t adhere to one specific genre of music. Instead, he likes to write what he calls “honest music,” or music that explains what he’s feeling.

The Moorhead, Minn. native said most of his inspiration comes from being connected with the outdoors and was a major reason as to why he moved to Eau Claire. He said he finds more inspiration in the hills of Eau Claire. Stein said he also enjoys biking, hiking, camping, canoeing and all kinds of outdoor activities when he gets the chance.

“If I get writer’s block or if I’m struggling with writing something, I go on a bike ride, because I feel like the outdoors will inspire some lyrics,” Stein said.

Stein has recorded and released several albums in his basement. His most recent album, “Back Across the Lake,” is the first album that he recorded in a studio setting, rather than into a USB microphone plugged into his computer.

Stein has performed at open mics at The Plus and The Cabin, including a show at The Cabin this past November. He will be performing at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 at The Plus, where he will be bringing six of his friends up on stage with him to play his original songs. Matthew St. Ores, a friend of Stein’s and a first-year sociology student, will be playing the cajon, or box drum, for a few songs at Friday’s show. Their shared sense of humor and Samuel’s ease of being onstage is what makes performing together so easy for him, St. Ores said.

“He has a really easy time playing to the crowd and connecting with them, making it less of a performance and more of an interaction, which is much more intimate and enjoyable for the audience,” St. Ores said.

Stein said he tries to involve as many people as possible in his projects, in order to foster a community. He said he enjoys playing his songs with other people because he likes to hear the way other people interpret his songs.

Though Stein said he likes to work with other people, he usually writes his music alone.

“Sometimes if I get bored in class, I’ll start writing lyrics and think ‘that’s cool’ and then go home and find a tune, or I’ll find a tune first and I’ll need lyrics,” Stein said. “And if I get stuck, I will go on a bike ride, usually to a park or something, and I’ll sit in the grass and see what makes sense and what instrumentation would work. … And the more instrumentation, the more people I can get involved with me and get them up to play onstage.”

Stein said he finds his best work comes from being busy, because that’s when he’s experiencing a lot of things and feelings, and that’s where his music comes from. He said he comes home from an exhausting day, and that’s when the tune comes to him.

Stein said his goal, in the long run, is to travel with his friends and play shows all across the country every night. He said his dream is to play at the Red Rocks Amphitheater about 10 miles west of Denver, Colo.

“If I got to play there, that’s how I would know I’ve made it,” Stein said.

Samuel Stein will be performing at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 at the Plus. The show has a $5 cover fee and tickets are available at the door.

Kelley can be reached at [email protected].