Currently building up to the release of their album Otherworld on February 16th, dream-pop duo Holy Golden, AKA Leslie and Andrew, have big plans for 2018, especially given the exciting journey, that included two US tours, 2017 took them on. ThisIsTheLatest chatted to Leslie about artistic inspiration, tour plans and where they’d like to see themselves 5 years from now.
TITL: What’s the story behind Holy Golden? How did the two of you come together and how did you come up with the band name?
Leslie: Strange cosmic force brought us together in wintertime on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. We had an immediate connection but lived on opposite coasts, California and New England. We made it work and within six months had recorded several songs, filmed music videos, and made a film. Holy Golden as a name is basically about finding the “wholeness” and “gold” inside your soul. The meaning grows deeper all the time. We initially got the idea from Andrew’s Grandma who’s a Reiki master when she said Andrew had a golden aura. We liked the positive feeling of the two words together.
TITL: Which bands and artists influenced you growing up and have those influences changed much over the years?
L: As a little girl I loved pop stars and classical music. I found an old Celine Dion CD of my Mom’s and I would stay up late at night when I was supposed to be sleeping, writing this dramatic script about me falling in love with a shy boy at summer camp in Canada. So weird, I was like 10 but I loved listening to music and visualizing at the same time. So I’m pretty sure whether or not it’s a good thing, all my parents CDs seriously influenced me in that way because I still always visualize when I’m listening to music.
Andrew loved playing his Dad’s classic rock records like The Beatles and he was a big fan of bands like Guided by Voices, Silkworm, Pavement, and John Fahey. What we listen to changes often but all those influences come through – especially in Andrew’s guitar playing style and my flair for the dramatic.
TITL: Is there a band or artist you might say you’re similar to or do you make a determined effort to just be yourselves and follow your own musical path?
L: I guess we’re like any artist who believes in their work and doing the work their creative minds beg of them. It’s like the music rules us and we try to get out of its way and not compare it to anything too much. Style-wise, we feel a connection to ’90s music, but we get different references all the time. You can easily get in your head if you start comparing your work with whatever is popular at the moment. There’s space for everyone to do their thing and its best to respect your voice and be as honest as you can in the moment with wherever you’re at.
TITL: Tell me a little about your latest track “Arrival”. Is there a particular story or meaning behind it?
L: Yes. The whole album Otherworld is a story. It’s been brewing for a long time. “Arrival” is the euphoric entrance into the world of the album. It’s a pat on the back for making it as far as you’ve come and knowing that now you can claim your space and stand strong. “See the shore, lined up for miles in the atmosphere of everything I stand for.” It’s like you can grasp your desire in the physical realm. And in this case, it was well earned. Overcoming years of self-doubt, sadness, and others trying to stop you from reaching this world of your own – not to mention yourself trying to stop yourself! Now you’ve arrived. Things aren’t perfect but at least you made it. Now you can begin.
TITL: The song is taken from your album Otherworld which is released on Feb 16th. Without giving too much away, how would you sum it up?
L: A curious and passionate young girl transcends her perpetual sadness via her imagination and creates a kingdom which includes a castle on the sea, levitation, talking animals, and ultimately, the need to deal with her past and present to make peace in her soul. The story is for anyone and can be interpreted to relate to your own hero’s journey.
TITL: Could you pick a favourite track or two from the collection and if so, which are they and why?
L: “World Of My Own” encapsulates the whole album into four simple words and has the power to help a lot of people, especially in these current times. “The Catacombs” is very meaningful. It deals with my father’s death and a trip I took with him to The Catacombs in Paris when I was a young girl. Growing up, my family had a beautiful piano in our living room. I’m one of five kids, my parents always had us take piano lessons but the recitals were emotional torture for me. I ignored the piano for many reasons until one day I decided to play again and the song I wrote eventually became “The Catacombs.” This song is like a lantern you take down into a dark dungeon – to better understand – and you end up feeling more whole because you went there.
TITL: You spent the late end of last year on the road – do you have any favourite memories or highlights of 2017, performance wise?
L: We did two US tours in 2017 after playing our first show ever about a year ago on New Year’s Eve at our friends store Maison DNA in Newport, Rhode Island. Meeting so many musicians across the country has been amazing and inspiring. A mini-tour in Texas with the bands El Lago and Astragal was a highlight. Playing with Death Vessel on Andrew’s birthday last year on March 31, was really cool. There were so many great moments! It was all so special and we feel most at home when traveling and performing.
TITL: What are your tour and performance plans for this year? Will Europe and the rest of the world get to see you?
L: Yes! We have lots of ideas and are making certain plans now. More dates in the US, including a record release show in Brooklyn this February. Europe is also on the docket, we are just starting to talk about it out loud and get more information to make plans. Would love to live for a while abroad performing and doing some film projects and videos. We would love to go to Japan, China, New Zealand, Australia, and South America too at some point!
TITL: How would you describe a Holy Golden show?
L: Colorful, ceremonial, emotive.
TITL: If you could play one venue, anywhere in the world, with four artists/bands, living or dead, where would it be and who would be on the bill?
L: The venue would be the Palace of Versailles of course. Beethoven backed by a full orchestra would kick the night off. Followed by the Jackson Five in their heyday of Motown glory. We’d play third. Then David Bowie – any era, and Beyonce would close out the show.
There would be platters of petits fours, French confections, champagne towers, etc. and all the artists and their close family and friends could stay the night in a carved canopy bed in one of the bedrooms. Then Julia Child would make us all breakfast the next morning. We’re looking into making a version of this happen in real life. Who wants to come?
TITL: How is and has social media boosted your ability to reach a wider audience and what kind of reaction have you had from fans and followers on networks such as Twitter?
L: The best part of social media is making connections to other people who inspire you. We got in touch through Instagram with a photographer in New Orleans and did a photo shoot last minute and it was so cool to meet the actual person behind images you’ve been following. Social media definitely helps people understand our vision and that’s amazing! It also makes it way easier to share your work and express thoughts.
At the same time, social media can feel confusing and limiting. Like – how can I ever fit my entire psychology and personality into this little box with some words? It can be painful and embarrassing, so be nice to people and try not to assume too much about anyone or draw conclusions too fast. People are complicated and can’t fit their entire story on a small platform. We’re all figuring this out together.
TITL: Given how fickle the music industry is and how careers can skyrocket and nosedive in what might seem like the blink of an eye, how determined are you to overcome any hard times or negativity that you experience?
L: No ‘industry’ can decide where you are at with your art – that is personal and something you know best. Of course, it feels amazing to get recognition for your work and we are so appreciative of everyone that supports us! Sometimes we get really hateful messages on YouTube and it’s interesting because it’s like – yeah I have complicated feelings about my work too! Life is a cycle, you don’t want to wind up being smashed on the bottom of the wheel or trying not to fall off the top. If we can learn to work our way into the center and find a constant, seeing things go up and down around us – that would be ideal.
TITL: If you were to advise upcoming musicians and artists on how to make it in the music world, what would you say to them?
L: I’m not exactly sure how to make it yet! But what I’v learned so far is to let go of your expectations and just focus on the work! For me, no amount of success is going to feel truly gratifying if I’m cutting corners or not being honest in my work. Learn how to communicate with the parts of yourself so you can see when you might need to make some changes in your approach and when you need to just enjoy what you’ve created and trust it will find its place in the world.
TITL: Finally then, where would you like to see yourselves 5 years from now? What’s the long-term objective for the two of you and what would you have to achieve in order to turn to one another and say ‘We’ve made it.’?
L: I had a therapist once ask what my ultimate goal was and after like a week of thinking about it I came up with – to be a successful artist who gives and receives love freely. It sounds simple but it’s not. We want success, but also the ability to give and receive easily. “We’ve made it” feels like we can completely support ourselves through the musical world we’ve created, but that we also trust ourselves to give our truth and others to give back to us in return.