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THE B-SIDE
DIVING IN WITH GOLDROOM
7/12/17

Alternative electro-pop singer/songwriter and producer Goldroom, whose got a deal with Downtown/Interscope, discusses artistic growth in a brand new interview with HITS' Samantha Hissong.

Goldroom's West of the West album, which Vanity Fair called "a romantic and ambitious soundtrack to end your summer on a high note," was released to tastemaker praise in the fall of last year. More recently, his remix of RAC f/Rivers Cuomo's "I Still Wanna Know" reached the #1 spot on HypeMachine's Popular Charts, following the release of Goldroom single "Spread Love," which also went #1 at HypeMachine. 

He's currently recovering from a traumatic body-surfing accident, while preparing to go back out on the High Seas Boat Tour. He'll also be hitting Fuji Rock, Outside Lands, Life Is Beautiful and other summer festivals. 

Get more info here or stay on this page to get to know the big-hearted cultivator of good vibes.


INTERVIEW BY SAMANTHA HISSONG

First off, I have to ask how you are and how you’re feeling. When I was reading your Facebook post (after the initial “Oh my god, is he okay?” thought), I couldn’t help but wonder if you found yourself creatively inspired by the situation. I’m sure a near-death experience and a lack of mobility puts a lot into perspective.
I'm feeling okay, thanks! I'm currently sitting on my couch with a cervical neck brace on. I've lived on this couch for the past couple weeks and will be here for a bit more. It's given me a LOT of time to think and has definitely put my entire life and music in a whole different perspective.

I can't say that the accident or its aftermath have left me especially inspired. I've just been trying to hold on and get better. It has absolutely left me reeling and opened up a lot of life thoughts that I haven't had to confront before. It has left me with a liberation and a freedom that I haven't felt before, and I know that will affect my songwriting. I'm feeling different about life and I think that will come across in the music I'll be making. I can't wait to get into the studio!

Will you be continuing the boat tour? Are you rescheduling dates?
Yes, we've rescheduled a couple of the dates that we had to postpone. I'm happy to say we have all the dates scheduled and I won't be missing any cities.

Tell me about your involvement with Beneath the Waves and how it relates to this tour. Has the ocean always played an important role in your creative life?
100%. The ocean is my biggest muse and holds most of the positive memories from my childhood. It'll always be nostalgic for me. Beneath The Waves is a wonderful non-profit organization that supports conservation and research for oceanic endeavors. I'm a brand ambassador, and they’ve been helping me figure out how we can minimize the environmental impact of the boat shows. For instance, we're using paper cups and paper straws at all the parties.



How have your production/recording techniques changed since the release of the Angeles EP? If you listen to Angeles and West of the West side by side, you can really hear a stylistic growth or shift… Maybe it’s a maturity. West of the West is effervescent, crisp, bright, tight and pointed. Angeles is more raw and vulnerable, while noticeably warm, laidback and groovy.
A lot of the looseness and rawness that you hear on Angeles was straight-up a result of my limitations as a producer, player and singer. In my mind, I've always wanted to make the music that resulted in West of the West. I just took me years of work to get to that point. The one constant is the songwriting; I think that’s my catalog’s true through line. West of the West is the outcome of five years of trying to get to a distilled perfect version of what I imagined for the project in 2011. Now that I've found that, I'm very interested in moving forward.

At this point, I'm looking for a way back toward some of the vulnerability and rawness that was present in my earlier productions. I'm a producer and, by nature, I'm very detail-oriented and always trying to make things sound perfect. I think my big challenge now is to find a way to pull back and be a bit more human with my next batch of songs.

This is a broader question, but how has your mentality shifted since then? Do you still have the same core values, goals and desires that you had when you started as Goldroom in 2011?
In some ways, yes, especially as it relates to songwriting and pushing myself as a producer. But that said, I feel like the completion of West of the West meant finally succeeding, according to the personal mission statement I made when I launched the project. I've accomplished all the goals that I set out to accomplish, both creatively and otherwise.

Creatively, my mentality is in a whole new place at this point. I'm in a different place in my life now, and a LOT has changed for me in five-plus years. Naturally, that's making me feel different about where I want to go creatively. As I mentioned before, the through line is always in the songwriting. I just want to write honest songs that connect with people. I still want to write as honestly as Tom Petty. That'll never stop being my goal.

Favorite song on West of the West?
“Breaks.” It was the tentpole/anchor for the record and, really, it’s my original mission statement distilled into a song.

“Teenage Waste” is so interesting to me because, musically, it’s so sunny and upbeat, but the lyrics are actually pretty sad. It makes me think of the time after your teenage years—your twenties—where your straddling this line that cuts through adulthood and childhood and you’re just searching for purpose and meaning, but you also kinda feel like a piece of shit at the same time. That said, it also reminds me of Los Angeles; that sunny, joyous exterior driven by an underlying desolation. What does “Teenage Waste” mean to you?
You nailed it for sure. For me, a huge part of the song is about what it's like to transition into adulthood. Social media can be overwhelming since people don't post boring adult stuff. It feels like the world lives like perpetual teenagers, and it’s a dangerous assumption to make. “Teenage Waste” is about that push and pull, of being surrounded by that, and desiring it, while also getting older and dealing with more of life's real issues.

What inspired you to write “Spread Love”? It seemed, from an outsider’s perspective, like a necessary one-off that had to be released as a single so it could stand up on its own and not get buried within a larger, multi-tiered project. It sounds like a burst of energy and positivity that you just had to get out of you during a time when many people (fans and creatives alike) felt confused and/or divided.
Ryland Blackinton—a good friend and producer—and I talked about that song three or four times before we actually sat down to write it. Not only were we feeling like we wanted to write something with a very pure message of positivity, but we also had been talking extensively about why a lot of early French Touch connected with people so much. Their English vocabulary was limited, and that ended up nourishing a beautiful simplicity in the songwriting—one you don't often see in modern songwriting. We just wanted to try and do something as pure and honest and earnest as a song like "One More Time," Tonally, that song really wouldn't have worked on West of the West, so I think it was perfect to release it on its own.



And what drew you to RAC f/Rivers Cuomo’s “I Still Wanna Know”?
André [Allen Anjos] brought that song to me, actually. He thought that I'd be a great foil to his style, and I instantly fell for the song. Rivers’ voice and phrasing is so different than most modern indie vocalists that it made for some really fun writing.

What do you find more challenging? Remixing someone else’s track or crafting a brand new one?
Writing something of my own is so much more challenging. When I'm remixing someone else's song, the song is already there! The thing that makes it great is already done. It's like having a beautiful painting and all I have to do is figure out how to frame it. When I'm writing my own song, I have to paint from scratch.

Any genre of music or sound you haven’t yet played around with that you might enjoy incorporating into your own music or remixing in the future?
I always try to incorporate more folk/americana into my songs, but those ones rarely make the cut. I guess that's mostly a songwriting thing. I'm definitely interested in trying out some more ambient, textured, lush sounds. Drums aren't necessary in every song!

One thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I lived in El Salvador for half a year and fell in love with pupusas.

One more thing?

I can fall asleep on command.

Comments on the recent closing of Gold Room, your Echo Park namesake?
Actually, it didn't close. Although I think I wish it did :(

Beverage of choice?
A “Gold Room Special” of course! When I started going there in like '07, it was $3 for a shot of tequila and a Tecate.

And, for the hell of it, if you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
To stop time. I just would love a pause button sometimes.


**Press shot by Catie Laffoon