Grumpy Is No One's Second Choice

In their new music video, "Protein" directed by Sarah Ritter, Grumpy sing about being someone's second choice, but prove they're far from that.


Brooklyn's enigmatic musical mainstay, Grumpy, is so back. With their new single, "Protein," an electro-pop banger that delves into the raw underbelly of digital longing, Grumpy, aka Heaven Schmitt, gives us a taste of what we've been missing. Imagine the sound of a cursor echoing through a cave, punctuated by a condescending "You've Got Mail" notification. That's the vibe.

Set against a shimmering soundscape that's as haunting as it is exhilarating, "Protein" dissects the all-too-familiar feeling of being someone's second choice.

The music video, a collaboration with Sarah Ritter (who shot our Issue 06 cover of Samia, among many other notable feats), takes the concept of flirting via text and catapults it into a futuristic alien war zone. As Heaven sings about emphasized texts and nude photo requests, their co-pilot is tragically ignored, leading to a crash landing on a desolate alien planet. The standout lyric "you emphasize my text and then ask if you can keep my nudes" perfectly encapsulates the song's poignant commentary on digital intimacy and vulnerability.

Below, Heaven and Sarah tell us about their collaboration, the hidden meanings, and why Grumpy's first music video is just the beginning.

Grumpy Is Just Beginning

What was it like working with Sarah? How collaborative was the process?

I met Sarah 10 years ago. It was clear to me then and it’s clear now; Sarah is an unstoppable genius. Working with Sarah was incredibly easy because I trust them. I gave them everything that was left in my bank account and said “do whatever you want.” They somehow pulled off a freaky, stunning, masterpiece with a tiny budget. But the point is, I wanted to let them loose and they freaked it.

Can you talk to me a little about the concept behind it?

Alien prince is too busy with inter-dimensional sexting to bother with they life threatening space battle causing them to crash land in a foreign world (Malibu). Anya Good, our executive producer, hand made the alien phone and we all screamed and exploded from there. I don’t know how she did it, she even gave it demented little phone charms. She’s incredible.

Is this Grumpy's first music video? What was that process like for you?

This was Grumpy’s first music video, yes. Kaden Vannoorsdel (co-star in the video and performer on the song) and I have dreamed of making big, freaky, goofy music videos for 10 years now. We met as teenagers and he and I bonded so deeply over writing and playing music together. It was pretty triumphant to finally get a chance to really express ourselves visually, just like we always dreamed. Kaden has always had huge vision for the visual story of Grumpy and I am deeply inspired by and grateful for him.

What can we expect coming up?

Coming up we have a bunch of great shows this summer including our first ever headlining show: the Grumpy Gas Station Hot Dog Bitch Off (July 14th at Sundownstairs), opening for my favorite band This is Lorelei’s album release (June 20th at TV Eye), and opening for (and possibly dueling with) Hank Heaven (July 19th at Union Pool).

Apart from shows we have so much more music ready that I can’t wait to release. And Sarah and I are cooking up a pretty nasty concept for our next video.

Sarah Ritter's Creative Vision

Can you tell me a little bit about the concept for the video? How did you land on it?

I’ve always wanted to do a space concept because I love green screen and when Heaven showed me this song I was like ‘This is the song, this is the alienated anthem, this is perfect’ and we rocked with it in the group chat.

I'm curious about the juxtaposition between the futuristic aspect of the video and the sort of ultra-grounded lyrics ("Go to check the mail, I find the stupid shit I ordered"). Can you expand on that?

We really wanted to focus on making Heaven seem like they were on their own planet, and not for lack of trying, but from what I understood the song was bigger than the smaller stuff. It was about someone seeming unreachable, from both ends, almost as if there’s a language barrier, a complete disconnect between you and someone else. I’ve definitely felt that way before and wanted to explore the relationship between Heaven and the captain of the ship (Kaden Vannorsdel) who even speaks in Heaven’s native alien tongue but can’t get through to them.

What was it like working with Heaven? Have you guys worked together before?

Working with Heaven was amazing, they were super hands on and positive, they designed their own costume and the idea for the contact lenses, gloves, that was all them.

Can you tell me about the set? Where/when/who/how?

We were fortunate enough to work with one of my besties on this one, Anya, who did most of the set design. She was the one who found the studio, the same studio they shot animation pickups for James and the Giant Peach, the Nightmare Before Christmas, etc at. Major find. We shot this back in July of 2023 and had a small crew including Amanda Ferrarese DP’ing, Hayley Min Young Kreofskey gaffing, and Phoebe Voss and Starkey Fossgreen production assisting. Shoutout to Patrick Hartley for the costume for our space captain as well. He just had it in his closet.

What is something that isn't music but is "music to your ears"? (i.e., sounds good, feels good, etc.)

I’m huge on babbling brooks, love a good stream, add any form of movement to water and I’m there.

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