Ethan Gold is back! The Californian singer/songwriter has released his first single “Our love is beautiful” off his upcoming album “Earth City” this summer, accompanied by a video clip that he had filmed on a pre-pandemic trip around the world!
In September Ethan released a second song “The Last Dive” that presents in a fresh indie rock sound.
We talked to Ethan not only about his take on the new reality, that COVID-19 forced upon us all, but also about his songwriting techniques and the storms he went through before finding positive and hopeful song topics that people could relate to! Relating to one another seems to be a crucial theme in Ethan´s songs and the way we connect is now probably more important than ever! Unity through separation might be the headline for this crazy year! Make sure to watch the cool community video for “Our love is beautiful” here:
Now, sit back with a cup of tea and delve into this super inspiring interview with an artist who´s been through a lot but who always held on to hope and the power of new beginnings!
Ethan, congrats on the release of your song “Our Love is Beautiful” which came out in September of this year. Tell us, how has the response been so far and what does the song mean to you personally? Why did you chose this particular song as your first single from your upcoming album?
It’s a song that had been covered by a number of people, and as I was recovering from a head injury a few years back, my first major action was to go around the world, with a small backpack and my phone as my pocket crew, filming people singing or speaking the song. And getting to know being in the world again. So as the pandemic hit, I felt I should release the video, as a reminder of human unity. The single followed the video in this case.
Human connection has probably turned into a buzz word in this pandemic year. It is now, that people learn to understand the value of interpersonal connections. I guess a lot of us have also found, that in our busy global lives, we had lost much of that deep connection! Do you think that the world coming to a halt also holds something good?
I felt the world, by which we usually mean human civilization, was in desperate need of a pause for a long time. Chaos, division, disconnectedness, and a kind of moronic and addictive panic for more of everything seemed to be the ethos. Definitely good to get a chance to get off our hamster wheels and decide what we want to continue, and what we want to stop, or change. I think we can continue to be more careful, connected, thoughtful. And we’ve got to start judging our actions in terms of our effect on the biosphere in two or three hundred years or more.
In the song there´s the lines “Can you see any old magic in the world they’re building, Gas stations and cars, And fading stars, Who else here thinks that’s strange” Well first of all, I do think it is strange, yes! The lyrics resonated with me, as we seem so out of touch with our inate human nature in the big artificial city bubbles. There is so much happening on the outside, that the inside world gets overshadowed! What is something you wish we would give more room to in city life?
Pandemic aside, I think cities are great. They’re environmentally better than sprawling suburbs. Sorry, suburb-dwellers. I like cities, and nature. But ideally there is a way to design cities where there is enough nature within them so we don’t lose touch with that. Without everybody having to claim a piece of the earth all for themselves outside cities, because with eight billion people and climbing, that’s a bad recipe.
We also could use more micro-communities in cities and as a civilization. I’ve fallen into a poetry community in the east neighborhoods of LA. This sense of creating small groups of like-minded people who support each other, like little villages — this is another way cities can lose their alienation, while keeping their density and beautiful madness.
That is a great take on it! Your forthcoming album is titled “Earth City”. What are some of the topics we will get to listen to?
The whole record is really about all this. The alienation from fellow humans, which echoes the alienation from nature. It’s a double album, and I go into a lot. Stories of the city, and some please to reverse the destruction of our natural world as well.
Ethan, on a personal note, you have never made a secret of the fact that you have suffered from a severe brain injury in 2013. This major setback must have been super hard to get used to! How did you manage to move forward and fight yourself back into a self-reliant life?
Well, first I’ll say it was not as severe as it could have been. But it was definitely a thing. And I did kind of disappear publicly for a few years, just as I was getting cultural momentum from my first album. It was a long journey. In some ways it was, maybe like the pandemic is for our civilization, an opportunity for a reset. If the world will take the benefit…. I took the benefit by focusing on constant improvement. When that’s the inner mantra, it’s exciting. When one is looking to get back what one’s lost, that is a recipe for agony and despair. I had some moments of that in the first few months for sure. Really awful despair as I couldn’t put thoughts or words together. But I set my intention forwards, and my consciousness in the present. Which, since I couldn’t think cognitively very well, became my way of existing more than it had been before. Some of the benefits of meditation, gotten the wrong way.
How has your songwriting changed after this major cut in your life?
I write much faster than I used to. I used to belabor details and try many options in a song. Now I start and finish songs generally between a dream and breakfast.
Let´s talk songwriting a bit more! Next to being a successful artist, you are also a savy songwriter/composer who has worked on film scores as well as plenty of albums. When did you start writing songs and how did you start out?
I started writing music at a piano, very untrained, at age eight or so. Just imitating classical music, basically, without knowing any rules. And channeling the emotions I wasn’t able to express in the family, I suspect. That training probably serves me for film scoring. Trying to do something emotionally to environment, using musical themes.
I started writing songs with lyrics when I finally got some lessons as a teenager, and my teacher explained chords to me. Somehow that just opened up songwriting — chords and melody and words. And then I get to paint with sounds and rhythms. Quite alluring as a pastime.
For sure! When writing a song, how do you usually get started?
These days, 90% start in dreams. The rest might be just picking up an instrument and the first thing the hands do becomes the song.
Yes, I had read this fun fact about you. Writing songs while you sleep! Tell us a bit more about that! Do you wake up when this happens? How do these songs differ from the ones you write while awake!
I write in my sleep so often now, it’s really just part of my life. I wake up, usually between 4 and 8am, and the melody and sometimes the words are there in the dream. Sometimes I’m writing the music in a dream. Sometimes I’m seeing somebody else sing it, a woman, a person I know. Occasionally I’ve dreamt I was at a concert of a band or artist I know, and saw them sing a song, and then I wake up and figure out the song doesn’t exist, other than in my dream. If anyone knows Bruce Springsteen or Killing Joke, look me up.
Are you a more visual or auditory person? Do you think both processing patterns can evoke good songwriting?
Definitely more auditory. I can fall in or out of love from a voice. I do some painting sometimes as well – one of my record covers for Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals) comes from a painting. But generally I’d suspect that being more auditory would lend itself more to songwriting. I‘d guess that’s not a surprising answer.
Yeah, I guess so! I have a very visual way of thinking. Lyrics (which can be very visual) come easy to me, but melodies are harder! Would you say your best songs come from inspiration deep inside of you, or rather from inspirations around you? Or is it both?
Well, I exist in this world, so, it’s a bit of both. But I tend to write from inside. My songwriting is not observational, for the most part. It’s more the inner journeying, kind of soul-unfolding music, while that soul is trying to live in this world. Introverts see the world in a way that others don’t.
Agree! Who are some of the bands/artists that have inspired you along the way?
David Bowie for color and freedom, Brian Eno for playfulness and the beauty of subtle things. Lou Reed, who’s more observational, but I love his transgression and also the weird catchiness. Leonard Cohen for the reverence. Elliott Smith. Björk. Grace
One thing I´m always curious about when talking to artists is, how did you find your own sound? How important is branding to you as a musician? Do you ever feel like “sticking” to a certain sound feels restrictive?
That’s been a REALLY tough one for me. But I’m embracing my introversion and sensitivity now, in a way I used to resist. I do feel the world needs more voice for quiet people, so I’m owning that. And also, providing relief to any restriction, I’ve got a secret identity which allows me to express something completely different. But that’s all I’ll say about that for now.
Lovin this! Thank you Ethan for the interview! Wishing you all the best with Earth City and all your future projects!
Image Credit: Shane Lopes
To find Ethan online go to:
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