Last month, I had the opportunity to cover L.A. resident Goldroom's live show in San Francisco. Today, I'm bringing you thoughts from the human Josh Legg himself. From music management to DJing to forming a live band, Legg seems to have all the smarts and talent one ever needs. Oh, and he's down to earth, too.
Your name, your digital persona, your sound, all have a very L.A., SoCal vibe to them. Would you say this more of an on-stage embodiment or an intrinsic part of your real-life personality?
Absolutely real-life. My parents lived in Seal Beach for years before I was born, and their pseudo-hippie sailor lifestyle was always a 'what-if' missing chapter of my life. Once I graduated high school, moving to a place that I could be around the ocean and sailing year round was a huge priority. I basically fell in love with Los Angeles right away and have spent the last handful of years really embracing everything out here. Obviously there's a lot more to me than what comes across to social media, but I'm certainly not crafting some persona that I'm not. Come to Long Beach any Wednesday in the summer and you'll find me racing Catalina 37s and drinking Mount Gay. Sailing is really my life's 'other' passion besides music. I think it was sort of a blessing that I went into creating Goldroom without wanting to make any kind of persona... for once I just wanted to be me.
Considering the evolution of Goldroom as a music project from a one-man production / DJ outfit to the three-piece band it is today, how do you feel the concept of Goldroom has changed for you personally? I'm specifically thinking of a quote from a Last Gas Station interview you did last year where you stated: "When I think about Goldroom though, it became much more when I started to think about L.A. and the whole Southwestern USA as one giant golden room though, that's when I started to think about adopting the name." Does this sentiment still holds true for Goldroom?
As I was saying in the last question, when I moved here, I quickly fell in love with the city of Los Angeles. What I didn't anticipate, was developing a huge appreciation and love for the surrounding areas. Wine tasting up the central coast, spur of the moment trips over the border to Rosarito, and mind expanding trips out to Joshua Tree... its a world away from what I experienced growing up in Boston. I couldn't help but be inspired by all of it!
That said, moving forward, I hope that my inspirational palette continues to evolve. I think that I'll always be inspired by beautiful scenery, the ocean, and the power of adding people to those places... but I don't necessarily think that Goldroom will ever be exclusively 'about' Southern California. This first batch of songs is undeniably tied to the last years of my life living here in LA, but I expect that things will continue to evolve once I finish this record.
Growing up in Boston, you've said that you always dreamed of living in a warm, sunny place, and that California has been extremely influential with your music creation. Would you say you've brought aspects of Boston into your music as well, and if so what are they?
I've been asked this question before, and my answer tends to be that I always used music as an escape to a better place. In reality, youth culture in Boston, at least when I was there, was pretty rooted in classic rock and the jam scene. All of my first live music experiences were seeing guys like Tom Petty, the Allman Brothers, Jimmy Buffet, but also acts like String Cheese and Phish. Honestly I think it was seeing some of the jam bands that opened up my love for big, tension and release style buildups and breakdowns. There's a huge common thread between a Phish show and a Tiesto set, which is that long periods of time, sometimes ten minutes or more, are all calculated buildups to emotional climaxes. I've always been infatuated with melodic based tension and release, and so I think that that made falling for electronic music that much easier once I opened up my ears to it.
You posed a question to me when we were catching up after your last show in San Francisco, asking if I thought people could fall in love with a DJ. I'd like to throw that back to you and and ask if you think a crowd truly can fall in love with a DJ?
I think seeing a DJ perform is much more about lust. Its all sweat and aggression and dancing and sex. You're probably not singing along with the DJ, and you probably leave the show exhausted. So to answer your question, yes I think you can fall in love with a DJ... but maybe only for a night at a time. You probably don't take the DJ home to your car, to your bed, and to your parents house. I love DJing so much, because that intensity that comes from a great DJ set is something that cannot be replicated in a live setting.
That said, a live set is so much more intimate. Singing songs that you wrote, and playing them on instruments opens up such a different window. Its really special and getting to connect with people on such a more personal level is truly gratifying as an artist. I feel like you can build a bond that will last a lifetime.
On that note, can you feel a difference from the way crowds receive your music and appreciate your live sets now that you are performing as a band?
Absolutely, and its actually been a total surprise to be honest. I think we underestimated the number of people that maybe wanted to see us, but we're really into DJs so had never come out before. As I mentioned in the previous question, there is a level of intimacy playing live that just isn't there DJing. I can make mistakes up there, and the crowd sees every emotion I'm having written all over my face. They know how much more important it is for us, and I think they respond in kind.
Can you describe your ultimate setting to play a show?
I DJd a small festival in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on the beach this past winter. I was swimming 20 minutes before I played... Honestly I'm not sure how much better it can get than that. Except for maybe playing Coachella (laughs).
The last time I saw you play, you were DJing as an opener for The Magician. Can you describe what it's been like to move from a one-man opener to a full band headliner?
Somehow its all felt super natural. I think maybe because I DJd in all of the places that we're now playing live. Introducing a city to the project through a DJ set has been a really great way to ease into the whole touring experience. By the time we're bringing the live set, people already know what to expect and they're ready for it. Its been great.
I've always been in bands as well, so I always knew Goldroom would go live at some point. I didn't expect it to be this soon to be honest, but we are where I thought we'd be.
The past year has clearly been big for you. What's one thing that stands out to you that you know now but didn't 365 days ago?
I think a year ago I was really hoping to get signed by a record label, publishing company, and all that stuff that most bands hope for. It wasn't meant to be at that point, and I think sticking to my own plan and self releasing has been the best thing I could have done. Self releasing music is the best thing any young musician can do. You get to keep control of your own art while also being flexible enough to make sure that you release music only when you're ready. I'm so happy operating on my own right now.
What album do you think is most underrated?
Air - Talkie Walkie / Overshadowed by Moon Safari but still my favorite desert roadtrip album of all time.
Any exciting plans for your other music project NightWaves and your label Binary with Goldroom this year we should keep an eye out for?
NightWaves is something I'm always thinking about and wishing that we could get cranking again. We have an album of material that I'm totally in love with. The three of us are all working on different projects at the moment, but I really hope we finish the album so that everyone can hear it.
Binary is alive and well and I think the next year will definitely see us release some exciting music. Its been tough doing some of the label stuff while also keeping up with Goldroom touring and writing, but I really hope to keep things moving forward on that end.
As for Goldroom... I'm working on my full length album. I have a lot of material for it, and I'm still working on writing and polishing the whole thing!