Monday, October 27

Q&A With Musician Matt Gold

So much of music results from emotion, and Matt Gold is a perfect example of that. He feels, he writes, he performs. And he was also kind enough to sit down and chat about his new record, 
Let It Out, how to write a great song, and his dream venues.

A Hot Cup Of Joey: What kind of goals are you trying to achieve with this record?
Matt Gold: You know, it's the same thing all the time. Just getting your name out there. Making headlines, making news.

AHCJ: I love the music video for "Appreciated." Was that a concept you had come up with or was it just kind of brought to you and you said "let's do it"?
MG: Thanks! I knew I wanted it to be different, and I knew that I wanted it to be very, very happy and animated. I couldn't see doing a standard kind of video for that one. I had different people submit ideas--the director I went with was Per Hoel; he's out of Washington, D.C. And honestly, it was probably the easiest video I've ever made, because it was just like a photo shoot. You would just mimic what you were doing, and then it's all cut and paste, basically. I think there was more acting involved in that than in other videos I've done. It's the happiest video I have.

AHCJ: Take me through your songwriting process.
MG: I practice and play every single day. For me to write a song, I just sit around the piano, and go with what comes to me. It's not necessarily driven by a certain mood or situation. I just go with whatever comes out, and that's usually how the song forms. It's always the music first, and then the lyrics. I'll record something on my iPhone if it's really good, and then go back and reference it later. Sometimes when you're saying or singing words that don't mean anything, you'll get a line or phrase that ends up meaning a lot down the road.

AHCJ: I'm sure having an iPhone or recorder to jot stuff down definitely helps.
MG: There are a lot of songs that never see the light of day. My theory is, if you can remember them within the next two days, then they're worth keeping. Otherwise, it's just practice. Not everything is really going to work. It's hard to edit your own work and be objective about it. That's where a producer or engineer comes in handy. They can say, "no, that song isn't that great," or "let's do this one."

The song I'm recording now is probably the poppiest song I've ever written, and even happier than "Appreciated" in a different way. I really like it. It's very Top 40 pop, which I don't usually write. But that's what's coming out, so that's what I go with. 

AHCJ: Has there ever been a time where you've been really pleased with what you've done, and when you play it for a producer, they say no way?
MG: I think there have been songs that just wouldn't work, or they wouldn't come across the right way, or I didn't have the write producer to make it happen. I didn't find the right person to execute the vision. It's very hard to work with someone at get them to hear what you're hearing in your end. Oftentimes I will find other artists that are similar, to pull them up for reference. To say, "I like the way this sounds," or "I like the way this progresses."

AHCJ: You've been doing some touring as well to promote Let It Out. How's that been going?
MG: Yeah, I've done a few shows. One at the Jackhammer, and another at The House of Blues. I have some more dates coming up, as well. I believe there's another one in Chicago, and New York. Maybe Boston and Philadelphia. I'm not entirely sure. I just go where I'm told. 

AHCJ: What makes for a great live experience?
MG: It's just being authentic, connecting with your audience. Not taking yourself too seriously. My music tends to be more middle of the road, more serious. I think ballads are my favorite kind of song to do. It's hard for me to inject more upbeat stuff. In person, I'm kind of shy. I just like to get up there and do my thing, and make you feel something. I think a good live performance is when you leave people feeling something. And not just happy. I love when people come up to me after the show and say "you made me cry." That happens fairly often, and it makes me feel like I've done my job.

When you're onstage, you can't always see the audience because of all the lights. I try to gauge the audience by the applause. Then I can see how a song does. It tells me, okay, that one really works. They really liked it.

AHCJ: Have you ever found a song goes over really well in one location, and then isn't as well-received the next time?
MG: I try to pick and choose a setlist, but I never know what's going to happen until I see the audience and get a vibe for what they're like. I really like performing "Void," but I know that's not a song I can play anywhere. It has to be the right space.

When I played at the House of Blues, I didn't do anything very dark. It was mostly middle of the road and upbeat. If it's a more intimate venue, I can do more ballad-y type songs. I always like throwing covers in, too. If someone doesn't know you or your music, they can come away with something. I like hearing other people's versions of covers.

AHCJ: And per usual, we end with a Top 3. What are your top three venues or cities you'd like to play at?
MG: The Village Vanguard in New York is one of my top ones, just because it's a great jazz venue. Down the road it would be great to play the Royal Albert Hall (in London). Who wouldn't want to play that? I think for the third one, something probably in California. I haven't done anything there yet. I think that would be really fun.

I'm especially excited to get new music out. It's been a while. I did a movie over the summer, then I was busy doing shows. This is what I like to do--I love being in the studio. I love creating.

AHCJ: Definitely excited to see what's coming up next. Any final words of wisdom?
MG: It's important to just be yourself, and be authentic. Don't try to be anyone else. It takes real guts to put yourself out there. Anyone who does that gets my respect as a human being. It's hard, it's not easy. You're opening the doors for criticism, good or bad. 

In this career, you really have to have a strong backbone. I don't mind if everyone doesn't like me. I don't like everyone, so why would everyone like me? That's life. You can't take it personally. Otherwise, it'll destroy you. Thankfully, most of my press has been positive. I'm sure there will come a day when they drag my name through the mud. I won't like it, but I'll have to deal with it. And they're talking about you either way. Isn't that the cardinal rule after all?

AHCJ: Definitely. Any press is good press.
MG: That's right.

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