AN INTERVIEW WITH HOLY GOLDEN
If you haven’t caught up with Holy Golden, then you have some reading to do. Their website is amazing, their band camp is perfection. Their cover of Smashing Pumpkin’s 1979 on Youtube is bliss. Holy Golden is an art/music world created by Leslie Schott and Andrew Valenti whom met each other two albums ago and have made a long strange trip from Martha’s Vineyard to LA. They’ve dropped two albums, the first, Funsucker, released in 2014 on Heart’s Memory, is a lo-fi, psychedelic trip full of great songs such as “Forest Beach.”
Their latest release, Wax Castle, on the same label furthers the duo’s journey into their multifaceted art world through an imaginative kingdom of deep sorrow and bright fantasy leading to the ultimate message of letting go and moving on. DIY Mag calls the album “Brilliant,” and Rookie Mag says the duo is “far from holding back on their dreams.” “Being on Our Backs” is definitely the track to start with. The lyrics are delicate, airy, and heavily layered. The composition leans toward coming summer days and dreams of a hidden beach surrounded by lush forests.
We thought it would be good to bring you right up to date through an interview with the dynamic duo….
When did you know that you two were perfect to create your artistic visions with one another?
Andrew: When Leslie walked into the record store where I was working and bought some of my favorite albums, I was really intrigued. We started collaborating immediately on a song I was working on and it’s been nonstop since.
Leslie: When we made two music videos in one week, right after meeting, that was a pretty good sign! We’re both futuristic thinkers, constantly inspiring each other to keep creating, and we share a lot of the same inspirations.
What is the local Rhode Island scene like? How does it influence your sound and where you guys are at as musicians?
Leslie: In Rhode Island, we were living in a ballroom near the ocean in a home built in the 1800’s. The unique space inspired us a lot and made our thoughts really lofty. Things in Rhode Island have a bit of that ‘family’ feeling. It’s been very supportive.
Andrew: We’ve never felt bound by one place and are not sure where we’ll be next.
What sparks your creativity and writing process?
Andrew: For me, it’s the carnal desire to always be making something new and to try and surprise myself and grow as a musician.
Leslie: It’s therapeutic and satisfies some part of me that nothing else I do can even get close to. It’s almost trance-like when we write a new song. I’m fascinated by the subconscious mind, dreams, visions, and mythology.
How would you guys compare where you were a year ago compared to now musically?
Leslie: The biggest change is that we’re sharing more and playing live. We’ve always been creating for ourselves, but sometimes you get in your head about what that means for others. The songs off our upcoming EP and album, which is some of the stuff we’re playing on tour, has a more hi-fi, euphoric sound.
How do you merge your filmmaking/artistic visions and creations with your music?
Andrew: If we are in an inspiring location that we love the aesthetic of, chances are we’ll film something for a music video, using whatever tools we have available. We use what we can to create visuals that complement the fantasy of our music.
Leslie: Sometimes the video comes first, then we come up with a song for it later. A main goal with the music is to fully manifest my music video visions, which involves a bit more production and camera magic than what we’ve done so far. I 'see’ music when I hear it.
How do you materialize an ethereal dream world within your melodies?
Leslie: This seems to happen naturally because that’s where most of the songs are coming from to begin with. We imagine ourselves as universally relatable characters in a fantasy world of our own creation. Not necessarily as a way to escape reality, but to feel powerful within everyday reality, which can feel like it’s constantly trying to strip you of your own special powers and goodness.
What’s the most exciting part about heading out to tour?
Leslie: It’s like a road trip with an opportunity to do your dream job every night.
Andrew: Fulfilling a lifelong desire to tour, playing with great bands at each stop along the way, and meeting people who connect with our music.
What do you like most about playing live shows? How do you feed off of the energy between performer and audience?
Leslie: I like how my brain just shuts down all these distracting parts of myself and focuses on being honest with the task at hand. When we are really playing from our hearts, not in our heads, that’s usually when the audience draws in.
Andrew: Sharing our music with people who haven’t heard it live before, and giving our songs a different life than they have in their recorded versions.
Since you’re about to leave on tour - what are the three must have albums you need to survive the journey?
Andrew: We’re a week into the tour now, and it’s been a lot of listening to the bands we’ll be playing with each night. The War On Drugs “Lost In The Dream” makes for great road trip through America music. We also dug into the Youth Lagoon albums and Daughn Gibson’s “All Hell” is great for the road because he was a trucker turned musician and his life on the road really comes through in his music.
An artist/song/ or album that makes you feel a heavy dose of nostalgia?
Andrew: Guided by Voices always gets me. “Don’t Stop Now” is the anthem for nostalgia.
Leslie: “Close My Eyes” by Arthur Russell.
photo by CAROLINE GODDARD
interview by ATHENA BURTON