Blonde Maze, also known as Amanda Steckler, is a breakthrough producer and multi-instrumentalist based in New York City. Since her first project in 2015, Steckler has taken the indie electronic music scene by storm. Over past years, she has accumulated millions of streams on her music, as well as features on platforms such as Billboard Pride, Paper, and NYLON. In addition to magazine articles, her music has been shared on U.S. radio station Sirius XM Chill. Steckler has performed at numerous iconic venues, including SXSW, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and NYC's official Pride Fest.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine in 2020, Steckler started preparations for her album Something Familiar, which explores emotions of love, loss, and everything in between following the end of a significant relationship. The LP is out now, and can be found on most streaming platforms, as well as through the links at the bottom of this article.
Something Familiar is thoughtful, innovative, and authentic–Blonde Maze's best project yet. The release, which flawlessly intertwines electronic production with live instrumental elements, tells a heart-stirring tale of poignant emotions while navigating a difficult situation. "Not All Flowers Bloom" was first released amidst the overwhelming chaos and isolation of 2020. The song is a warm hug during a time when hugs and human contact have become few and far between. The bell-Iike synths and bubbly melodies are authentically inviting, and the tune feels simultaneously new and nostalgic. Title track "Something Familiar" features evocative an evocative set of lyrics and a vocal performance that really lends itself to the song's soothing energy. The calm intro of "Blue Sweater" perfectly offsets the tag section, which features a swelling synth sound, a handclap-reminiscent rhythm element, and various other understated sonics. The single's dynamic crescendo feels like a euphoric celebration of Steckler's concept and emotions.
We sat down with Indie Electronic Producer and Multi-Instrumentalist Blonde Maze for 15 questions. Read the full interview and check out Something Familiar below. Let us know what you think.
What are the last three songs you listened to?
1. Ben Böhmer - "Once..."
2. CRi - "Lonely Romance"
3. Jon Gurd - "Together" (Tom Demac Remix)
Who or what inspired you to start making music?
I started making music to help me sit with feelings I’d experienced for the first time–namely young love and heartbreak. Throughout the years, it’s become so much more than that to me. Emotions feel new with every song. Music has always kept me on my feet and in touch with my heart.
What drew you to the indie electronic music genre?
In around 2013, when I was finishing up college, I started listening to bands like Purity Ring. Somehow I dug deep into that scene, and I became obsessed with it–the lyrics, the sounds, the atmospheres, the way it made me feel. I eventually experimented with making that kind of music and it became an obsession. It’s the kind of music that puts visualizations in your head and has you daydreaming or staring out a window.
Talk a little bit about the electronic scene in NYC. How does it differ from Florida’s scene?
I was definitely more involved in New York’s electronic scene before COVID hit. There are really so many parts to it...There are the smaller DIY shows that are more intimate, and then there are the bigger productions that are put on at larger venues (and everything in between). For me, NYC is both a place where most of your favorite electronic producers stop by on tour, and full of creatives, whether music, visual, or anything else. In regards to Florida’s scene, I’ve only really experienced it in South Florida (Miami and such), and not nearly as much as I’ve experienced it in NYC, so I can’t really say what the differences are. But there is absolutely a niche for it down there; festivals like Ultra make it a central place for electronic music. A ton of electronic musicians were down there for Art Basel this year.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
ODESZA has always been one of the most influential electronic acts for me. Not only has it been really inspiring to watch them develop and even build their label over the years, but also their music has tapped into my emotions for years. There is something about their sound that fits so perfectly into the electronic genre, yet bears its own unique recognizable attributes. Some other electronic musicians that I’ve drawn inspiration from are Jon Hopkins and Tourist, to name a few.
How would you describe your sound?
It's a mixture of chill and electronic dance music with emotional elements like longing and yearning.
Tell us about your debut album, Something Familiar.
It’s my biggest project to date and details a long and personal journey for me. Each song has its own story but they all overlap. I think the same can be said for the sound design in each track. I previously always focused on releasing singles and EPs, but my life has transitioned chapters recently and it felt like a perfect time to commit to a bigger story with my most earnest production.
The past few years of my life have seen a lot of personal change, and throughout it all I was always drawn towards the familiarity and comfort of the past. I’d seek out things (physical objects or emotions) that brought me back to places in my mind that felt safe. The songs in the album represent learning how to cope with missing the past while embracing the change that comes with moving forward.
"The songs in the album represent learning how to cope with missing the past while embracing the change that comes with moving forward."
What is your favorite track on the album?
It changes all the time, but if I had to pick one, it would be "If I Could". It’s the one song on the album that I wrote from what I felt was someone else’s perspective towards me. It’s one of the tracks on the album that feels the most euphoric to me, with a longer bridge that builds and builds until the final drop.
What was your favorite part of working on the project?
I think my favorite part was probably realizing the overall theme of the album. It’s not like I sat down one day and was like ‘ok this is what it’s going to be about’–it happened over time, when I realized what I was feeling and writing about the most. Experiencing everything click into place emotionally and sonically felt inspiring.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about you?
I don’t blame anyone at all for this, but sometimes people automatically assume I’m only a singer and not a producer, which would be fine if my career was based around my vocals...but it’s not. I’m a producer first and foremost. More than anything, I focus on the production elements and soundscapes. I produce my own music and it’s my favorite part of being an artist. It’s what I spend most of my time doing, what I geek out on the most, and what I love doing the most. I rarely provide just my vocals on others’ projects (even though I will do it occasionally).
"I’m a producer first and foremost. More than anything, I focus on the production elements and soundscapes."
If you could collaborate with anyone in the future, who would it be?
I’m going to say say Jon Hopkins, ODESZA, or Flume.
How did you create the cover art for Something Familiar?
The Enhanced team and I discussed incorporating certain elements from the songs into a hand drawn design (similar to the way the album singles were drawn). I wanted it to be that sort of wintery blue and feel like nighttime, with hints of warmth like the yellow moon and the street lights. We worked with an artist who was able to take that direction and come up with how to draw the elements. Once they were drawn, we worked together to place them and create the scene.
What’s next for Blonde Maze?
Besides working on new material in 2022, I’ve been heavily focusing on creating a live set around the album. I played shows before the pandemic hit, but when I start playing again (hopefully in the near future), I want to have a completely rebranded show.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am just so grateful that my music, particularly my album, has touched so many hearts. I feel so lucky that I can do that and I can’t wait to continue on with what comes next.