Goldie talks to Absolute ahead of his Brighton show
Goldie, one of the most defining artists of the electronic music era will be appearing at Brighton Dome on Wednesday 22 November.
Goldie and The Heritage Orchestra Ensemble Live is a unique musical experience of the live orchestra and his iconic repertoire, staging The Journey Man Tour. Goldie spoke to Absolute’s Kasia Kash from Thailand about his accomplished life, work and thoughts.
Goldie had a rocky childhood. Of mixed race, dyslexic and with an inner city background. A major part of his youth was getting together with like-minded friends and playing music every weekend. “It was a very interesting time… being influenced by lots of different music which I always found very attractive … Punk was a very big for us … this subconsciously must have resonated in a lot of ways, because it was original British music … this was the reason why Drum & Bass was something I wanted to champion.” In the light of the strong political change in the UK at that time, it was an amazing time for music, as the genres were being defined. “We were on the cusp of something fantastic and I’m grateful for that change … I knew when we were making Drum & Bass music it was going to be something special. Drum & Bass was a very defining moment in knowing that it wasn’t going to be understood … was very much like New York Graffiti … I found a very good connection with the sub-culture of graffiti.”
The subcultural movement was bringing people from various boroughs together. With the graffiti being “the hum of the country … a massive colourful explosion of colour that people could read. Not defined by a conventional style, so was Drum & Bass. For the Inner city youth culture, it speaks the same language of disenfranchised dystopia freely… The middle class will always resonate towards what’s coming from the streets … because it speaks the language of the truth. Drum & Bass influences a lot of other music. Izt can be gentrified and watered down but it’s still misunderstood by the general populace, which is the same as what graffiti does.”
As a sound pioneer Goldie has paved the way for music evolution. “If you stick around long enough you see the art change, people’s views change. Forward thinkers are never cited for what they do … that’s what innovation does.” Not averse to the current technology in music commerce, his fundamental principle is “about applying the soul to the music … I make music for the adults. I’m a 52-year-old man. Its important to me.When people hear me play Inner City Life with the orchestra they can hear how far I’ve come. If I go back to making simple records as I did 20 years ago for the sake of commerce then it wouldn’t be fair to me as an artist, it’s not innovation. That’s regression. Let the kids make the music for the kids, that’s not for me now. I find a lot of adults in electronic music get it wrong, they cop out of their innovation. How can they make music just to fleece young people for the sake of it, I couldn’t do this. Older people have a duty to their music, we have to be dutiful with it, be artistic and expressive. The last time I checked my records and the timeline of say, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis or Radiohead, for example, I didn’t see their music regress.
But I’ve seen it in my field and I disagree with this. I see producers that don’t really love their music yet they make it just for the sake of sales. My music takes me where I need to get to. It may take you on your particular journey. My journey is going forward. What I do today creates art, I create tomorrow now. My music goes through a progressive process. You might understand it now, you may in 5 years time. I can’t tell you where I’m taking you, it’s just important to me that my music will endure for the next 10-20 years. For me, it all goes back to Detroit techno, the Godfather of our music. A city full of economic strife, full young black people playing electronic music way before European people got into techno. I listen to music all the time … Stan Getz, Steely Dan, Pat Metheny and today an early Richie Hawton mixtape, some Electric Light Orchestra, the Stranglers. I listen to jazz and some crazy music. I have a healthy musical diet. I don’t switch off.
With the new album, he amalgamates musical and lyrical reference points. Goldie talks about the response and feedback to his music. They may pick up on details such as Kate Bush ‘Running Up That Hill’ cleverly encoded and other such references. “People listen to my albums and they ‘hear ‘ it later. They pick up the reference points and connections. “It’s all about the patchwork quilts of my mind within the design of this project, It’s intrinsic. The unravelling of it all. I’m complex. There’s 11 adults in my head and 1 child, the difference is they’ve always been screaming.
Now they are all sitting with the child and have to listen. This is what The Journeyman is about. A young person making an impossible journey. Life is a single sequence of consecutive miracles set within infinite moments over billions of years. That’s what I’m striving for now. I don’t care if a kid buys this album for 50p in ten years time, as long he gets and understands it. It’s important to me that the art survives over everything. It’s a dirty job, but someone had to do this and i put my hand up.
My greatest fear is that i haven’t done the greatest that I was supposed to do. I’m here to do a job. I have to leave a legacy and I haven’t achieved all my goals and I will make sure I achieve them. By doing what i do in the arts, I know there’s more to do. After all we here for a short time. In a world where the illusion is about the selfie, the self-absorbed and which is why I chose yoga. For me the importance is if we take away the gadgets, what do we really have, what does a young person really have? Anyone in the arts, anyone picking up and learning an instrument, or painting amazing graffiti … that’s real. I know the genre that inspired me in the 80s is still predominately very strong. Look at Stance elements on Instagram, these kids are defying gravity, completely. The Olympics should be looking at this. It’s international and completely different. Going back to graffiti in my art led to all my layers musically. It’s a powerful force. It’s the alchemy. I’m insatiable in the arts.
“Having an instrument as a voice is one of the greatest gifts you can have. I never had that voice. I’m dyslexic and not being capable of playing instruments has been the biggest curse in my life! But being able to manipulate jazz players, real seasoned players is the highest order of alchemy, it’s the biggest gift i could also have. The gift and the curse have always been hand in hand. Being able to manipulate players, seasoned players being able to direct them is the highest form of alchemy because these players won’t normally play that way, I lead them to that.
If you ask me if I’m content with the manipulation of the arts right now? Yes, because if I put an idea down, it comes out 99% of what I’m imagining it to be. That’s what any artist wants man, that’s the reward. Not the MBE, not the Dr. Goldies … It’s about me waking up and going … that sounds great, that sounds amazing. I don’t listen to my music out of ego, I listen to it out of … oh my God, that inner soul can do it to you. Because it’s not actually me making it. I’m not making the actual music. I’m just the conduit to it all, I’m serving it. And to serve it, is to allow the energy come in.
What is your ultimate happiness? Just being here, having my family and daughter around me and seeing them happy. And to have this freedom I’ve paid a very heavy honourable price, and this was through dirty heavy breakbeat culture that everybody said would never go anywhere. I get in the sea at 5.30am every day and today I visited my friend’s studio, I drove over and God it was hot! It was a baking hot studio. I went in tired, worked 90 minutes in that studio on a song and I came out feeling like a million dollars. I know this is the kind of thing that’ll keep me and my mind healthy. I came straight home and jumped into the sea.
On to the show in Brighton. “The Heritage Ensemble is the driving block of The Heritage Orchestra. The orchestral shows we did last year were very powerful and the reason we are doing the Heritage shows is that we are showing the aspects of jazz and how this album can be manipulated within that. It’s a bit like the Range Rover Sport, you can have the Vogue or the Sport, we are doing this tour with the sport because of its ease to manage and we can move a lot more in terms of freedom. It’s a great show. We played Ronnie Scotts and they told me I was the only musician/ not-musician that’s ever played here! That makes me smile in my heart hearing this. That’s the power of the alchemy. I’ve been able to take this music so far, and that’s the kind of control I have over it. After all my life’s hurdles and then to be on stage hearing people playing your music that was in my head is the buzz. This show is amazing and the album was made to be played live. This is so important to me. God Bless You.”
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