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Exclusive Interview: Ethan Gold

todayJuly 30, 2021 109 1 5

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Listen to our exclusive interview with US singer/songwriter, producer & film composer Ethan Gold.  Ethan talked about his trilogy of albums, the therapeutic power of songwriting, music influences and plans for next year.

 

Ethan Gold is rewarding those patiently waiting for his sophomore album with a trilogy of LPs, with the first, Earth City 1: The Longing, coming. Preceding its arrival were two pairs of singles: “Alexandria & Me”/“In New York” and “Bright & Lonely City”/“Storm Coming”. Earth City 2 is slated for a January 2022 release date with Earth City 3 concluding the trilogy during the summer of ’22. The L.A.-based artist/producer/composer also will be putting out singles and videos in between every album’s release.

While the three Earth City albums fit together as a piece, each one has its own thematic concerns. The first album explores “the longing” — our fascination and alienation amidst the connections and disconnections we all experience in the highly complex 21st century world. It’s fitting that longing is the focus of the trilogy’s opening because longing is, as Gold describes it, “the first step of yearning that drives us inward and forward into the most profound experiences of living. Doubt, searching, and loneliness are motivating principles that bring us towards others, and they bring us towards grace.”

The trilogy’s title, Earth City, reflects a certain civilizational yin-yang existing today, with the world becoming more connected digitally yet people feeling more alienated and disconnected than ever. While these themes of isolation and dissatisfaction among people might seem spurred by the pandemic, Gold had this project in the works long before COVID-19 appeared. Still, he acknowledges that “the same impulse that drove me to construct this trilogy is connected to same stuff that caused the pandemic: excessive, unconscious interconnectedness, and the hole this creates inside people.”

Over the album’s 11 tracks, Gold takes listeners on a stimulating musical journey that explores aspects of personal relationships, romance, self-worth, and community, and his lyrics frequently operate on several levels. “Storm Coming,” for instance, concerns both romantic yearning and environmental peril. “Alexandria & Me” refers to a purportedly haunted old hotel in downtown L.A. as well as the ancient Egyptian civilization Alexandria, while “It’s Okay, Sid” is an ode to Gold’s uncle and to cities that are overlooked and unappreciated as Sid was.

The music, similarly, works on multiple layers. Gold weaves together a vibrant soundscape, drawing from elements of alt rock, Eno-like sonics, and folk music that sometimes serve to enhance the lyrics and other times act as a counterpoint. The gorgeous pop fueling tracks like “Bright & Lonely City” and “Our Love Is Beautiful” can shift attention from the lyrics’ darker aspects. A Spanish guitar softens the confrontational electro-beats in “Firefly” and the disquieting secondary vocal track on “In New York” plays off the more romantic lead vocal, lending a feeling of disillusionment to this pretty piano ballad.

Earth City 1 represents Gold’s first proper full-length album since Songs From A Toxic Apartment, his highly regarded debut that the Sunday Times (London) classified as “Essential New Music”. One reason behind the break between his releases was a freak accident that left Gold living without his cognitive skills and ability to communicate. Although experiencing a period where he was unable to utilize all the personality traits we generally define ourselves by, Gold says that “my soul was still very much there and I could feel it there the whole time.”

Music wound up being one of his primary healing techniques. Playing different instruments were major activities that helped him rewire his brain. Gold, then living in New York City, also would sit in a nearly empty cathedral on Broadway listening to Bach organ music as well as visit Tompkins Square Park to hear Puerto Rican and Cuban drummers jamming. “Just sitting and listening,” he reveals, “allowed me to rebuild my neural pathways.”

Once he began writing songs again, Gold discovered he was able to tap into a simplicity and directness that wasn’t there before. For many years, he has written his songs largely in his sleep and then put the finishing touches on them during the daytime. “What I try to do when I write is connect to my muses who speak to me and they speak to me largely through dreams,” he explains. “But since the head injury, I have found that my connection is even stronger.” Rather than tinkering over his songs, Gold says that he now typically finishes the words and music before breakfast. “Part of that is my sense of purpose and mission with what I’m doing is very strong. I know why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

After having performed, recorded, and mixed his debut album at home, Gold focused on many of the keyboards, guitars and bass this time around, but wanted other musicians and mixers to bring a wider energy to the songs of Earth City, with their global perspective.

Even before making Songs From A Toxic Apartment, Gold received accolades for producing and arranging Elvis Perkins’ influential Ash Wednesday album. More recently during his recovery time off-stage, Gold has been involved in a number of other projects leading to his Earth City trilogy. He put out several well- received singles (including “Not Me. Us”), composed the film scores for Don’t Let Go (Universal/Blumhouse) and The Song of Sway Lake (directed by his filmmaker twin brother Ari, and featuring John Grant and the Staves singing Ethan’s songs), and released two other albums of oddities, Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals) (“My nominee for record of the year” – Vents Magazine) and Live Undead Bedroom Closet Covers (“If this is what he comes up with to pass the time, that second album should be pretty something.” – Root and Branches).

In releasing his Earth City trilogy to the world, Gold is happily embracing the fact that he is flying in the face of current trends that emphasize singles. “Music has become such a disposable art form. Why can’t music take on big topics in a slow way – making something that will reward you with time and patience?” he asks, adding “Why does music have to be like lighting a firecracker? I prefer a river to firecrackers any day of the week!”

Listen to this song and more up-and-coming artists just like this one on “Discover”, playing Sundays at 1.30 pm PT/4.30 pm ET on Channel R – Today’s Hits & Your All-Time Favorites.

Written by: Channel R

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