In the not-so-distant past, gay musicians hid in the closet or played coy about their sexuality, but today’s artists are an entirely different breed. For up and coming singer-songwriter Matt Gold, being gay may be a given, but is simply one more piece to his overall puzzle. For Gold, inspiration is found in key moments from his life’s journey; they tell of growing up in a small town as an only child, of being adopted, the search for identity, and the experience of being abandoned, due to being gay.
Such themes and more are explored in Gold’s debut album, Drown Before You Swim. Tellingly, in its CD format, the album is broken into two discs, “Drown” and “Swim,” balancing his darker and lighter elements within. Gold recently took time to share more about his life, art, and the passions that fuel him.
Kergan Edwards-Stout: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Matt. To begin, as your songwriting is so tied to your piano, how did you first come to play it?
Matt Gold: Originally, I wanted to play the saxophone, but my mother was concerned that it could affect my mouth, especially as I needed braces. So instruments in your mouth were out! I tried the bass drum, bells, xylophone, and finally settled on the piano–but only took a month’s worth of lessons before I quit.
What made you quit?
I was really frustrated at my inability to learn it as quickly as I wanted, but, more importantly, I realized that improvisation was really my style. I love taking music out of the expected and making it my own. I played piano in church for a long time, and those are very structured, by nature. But with hymns and ballads, particularly, you can do so much more than what is written on the page.
Was religion important to you, or was playing in church just what was expected? (more…)
If you follow my posts or have read my novel, you already know that I’m a Christmas fanatic. In our house, we typically put up three trees, have a gigantic nutcracker collection, and at one point had a holiday CD collection totaling over 200, which is kind of crazy, considering that you really only hear the same 26 songs over and over. While I’ve thinned out the collection dramatically, each season I still hunt for new and interesting additions.
The problem, thought, is that while everyone and their brother cranks out holiday CDs, rarely are they done right. Typically the arrangements are too pop or generic, or the artist tries too hard to create something different that it entirely misses the mark. To capture the warmth of the season, you must create the proper mood and tone, which is trickier than it sounds.
Being a fan of Patsy Cline, I was floored when I first heard Mandy Barnett sing. Barnett effortlessly captures the essence of Cline, and it’s no wonder: she played Cline onstage in a tribute play, worked with Cline’s own producers, and uses many musicians from “the good old days” in crafting her music today. I’d been a fan for some time, but just stumbled onto her 2010 holiday CD, Winter Wonderland, which is really wonderful.
She manages to capture the sounds of the classic tunes of yesterday (think folks like Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Patti Page), but in a way which doesn’t feel dated. She sings flawlessly, bringing a timeless quality to all of the tunes you know and love. No surprises here, but that, in the end, is a good thing. Happy holidays!