Stream Goldroom’s new ‘Embrace’ EP on Spotify, read an exclusive interview covering his steps to indie dance domination
L.A.’s Goldroom has set a remarkable standard for the indie dance genre over the past couple years through his feel good California vibes and intricate melodies. He’s had a considerable amount of influence on the genre so far which is an impressive feat considering he has self-released all of his tunes. We had the chance to question Mr. Josh Legg on his background, newest EP and strong views of indie dance on the Ultra/EDC main stage. We also dive into issues of his methods of music marketing and where he sees dance music evolving in the future. Stream his new EP on Spotify below.
How did you start your journey as a nu disco/indie dance producer? The genre seems like such a far cry from the thousands of electro/progressive producers trying to make it big, yet you’ve been more successful than most. What’s your secret?
Well, if I had a secret, I guess it would be that I never set out to operate within the dance music world. I never thought about who was doing well, or how I could be “successful,” whatever that even means. I always just wanted to take all of the amazing production advancements present in dance music and apply them to the songwriting process that I’ve always used. I’ve always been in bands, and so thats the background I come from and the lens through which I look at music. I think of myself as being much closer to like a singer songwriter/troubadour type than I am anyone that would DJ a big festival. I guess the lesson is that you should just follow the kind of music that’s inside you, that you really believe in, instead of worrying about genres or trends.
Your chilled out California sound has helped lead and define a new wave of indie dance producers. Can you see this genre one day performing on Ultra/EDC stages with the electro big wigs of the present? What will it take to get the genre to that point? Is that something you want?
Well, this is something I feel really strongly about. I feel like the kind of music that myself and a lot of my peers make is SUPER well suited for big crowds! I’ve always been a big fan of sweeping melodies, long breakdowns, and big moments of bliss, all of which are kind of made for big crowds and big rooms. I’ve always dreamed about getting to DJ this type of music for a huge amount of people, and I really believe that it would be amazing for everyone there. People have a misconception that this music is just for the pool or the beach or during the day or whatever. Listen to Cassian’s “On & On” and tell me it wouldn’t set a festival crowd off. It makes my spine tingle when I hear it!
As far as what will it take for the genre to get there? I think time. Seeing the changes in lineups at festivals like HARD out here in LA is showing that the pendulum is already swinging. Gary Richards booked Oliver, Disclosure, and Duke Dumont at this Hard Summer. Compared with past iterations of the festival, it’s a huge swing towards more groove based, melodic, exciting music. Hopefully everyone out there is digging it, which should totally only help the whole thing grow.
Everything you produce seems to have a pristine and perfected sound. How long does it take you to typically produce a song? How long have you been working on this EP? How many songs are included?
Each song is so different. A song like “Embrace” (my new single) has literally taken years. The first demo I have of that song was made in 2009! It wasn’t until 2012 that I really dove back into tackling it again, but its taken me many, many, many sessions to figure out how to get rid of all of the things that annoyed me about that song. On the other end of the spectrum is “Only You Can Show Me.” The instrumental demo of that song was created in about two hours. The final version of the song is pretty much what that original demo was. That’s what’s exciting about making music though. When you put the work in on the hard ones, sometimes you’re given an easy one.
This EP is something thats been coming together for the last year or so. The oldest song on the EP is “Fifteen,” which was the first single that I released that wasn’t a part of the original batch of Goldroom songs. This release kind of represents that whole phase of figuring out where Goldroom is going. I love the first handful of songs I released, but this EP really is what the project is all about now. It’s six songs, three of which are getting their first commercial release.
What influenced the tracks and what does the EP mean to you?
The first EP I released (the Angeles EP) was extremely insular. I worked on those songs with old friends and collaborators, and I wrote and sung on all of the songs. My goal with Goldroom was to get the chance to collaborate with lots of people, so as soon as I was able to, I started reaching out to singers I was excited about. This second EP really sounds and feels like that co-writing process to me. I got to work with some amazing people on the EP (Say Lou Lou, Mereki, George Maple, Ariela Jacobs, and Chela), and so when I hear the songs as a group, it makes me remember the amazing process of writing songs with people I’ve just met. More than anything else, it’s those personalities and the experience of writing with them that influenced the sound the most. I wrote many of these songs on the road, playing demos in front of crowds for the first time. While the first EP was a very inward looking experience, this EP came from looking outward, experiencing new things for the first time.
Tell us more about the collaborations on the EP. How do you pick the vocalists that accompany your songs?
That’s an interesting process. At first I wrote with anyone I could! “Fifteen” was a song I had already written the vocal for (I have a pretty interesting version of the song with me singing that we ALMOST released). Chelsea gave us the most beautiful take on the song and so I used it. Lately, I’ve had more opportunities to work with lots of people. For me, it’s all about the songwriting more so than their voice. I’m a sucker for a great line or a great melody, so working with people who value the songwriting process the same way as me is the biggest thing I’m looking for.
You’ve made it public information in the past that you have self-released all of your music. How have you been so successful without a record label backing your marketing strategy? Are you looking to sign on with a label in the future?
Well, I certainly couldn’t have operated like this 10 years ago… or even 5! Without Soundcloud, digital stores, and blogs, I’d be dead in the water. I’ve self released everything because I didn’t have a label at the beginning. I had no choice BUT to self release. I’ve also had my own label, Binary Records, for some time. Having been in that world it definitely made self releasing music a more palatable experience.
Since then, I think things have gone well because of word of mouth and because of writers and tastemakers being really cool about spreading the word about my music. Things have gone well enough that I’ve had the luxury of continuing to self release my stuff. I own all of my music and I can release it whenever I need to.
Do I get jealous of people I know that have strong label backing? Absolutely. It’s crazy what radio can still do these days. When I champion self releasing music, I’m definitely not trying to talk badly of labels. I’m quite open to putting Goldroom out with another label, it just needs to be a label that really believes in the project and matches up well with everything we’re hoping to do.
What are the details on your upcoming tour? Why did you decide to do a live band tour instead of a DJ set? How will this show be different from your last?
We’re playing ALL over the place, I’m so excited. I love DJing a lot, but I think most of the people coming to our shows are maybe growing a little tired of seeing their favorite producers play the same songs they listen to in their car. There’s something special about seeing someone sing a song live, or play a guitar lick right in front of you, that can’t be replicated with CDJs. I think this music works really well live, and my goal was always to create a live show that sounds as good as a DJ set, but is more loose and entertaining. Playing live is just extremely rewarding. I love standing up there without a table in front of me. There’s nowhere to hide.
What do you think is lacking in today’s dance music scene and how do you intend on changing it? Where do you see yourself two years from now? And where do you see the dance music scene?
I’d love to see more acts playing live. RAC and Classixx just developed live shows, and adding that to The Knocks, Poolside, and others is really exciting to see. I don’t think any of us will stop DJing, but there’s something to be said for the spontaneity of playing real instruments on stage. Every show is different and exciting. I think that leads into your second question, because I believe that fans are going to start demanding this of their favorite artists. A couple years from now I think we’ll be seeing a lot more dance acts hit the road with live shows, which would be a very good thing for music as a whole!
People are always talking about the ‘bubble of EDM’ and when its going to pop, but I think thats a bit narrow sighted actually. Clearly DJing as a performance vehicle is riding a huge high right now, and I’m afraid at some point that may start to become less cool… but the idea that electronic music is going to go out of style is wrong. We’re just seeing the beginning of electronic music’s impact on music as a whole. I think moving forward we’ll only see more and more exciting music coming from this world, as well as more and more people accepting it.
What are your most efficient ways of promoting your music? How has Spotify helped you market your image and tunes?
That’s such a hard question. I have no idea what the future holds for places like Facebook or Soundcloud, will they always be the most popular places to network and share music? Probably not forever. Because of that I try pretty hard not to rely on one way to get the word out about Goldroom. There were people who’s entire fanbases were built through Myspace.
I think I’m most grateful for Soundcloud and Spotify though. A handful years ago the concept of streaming music without a download was very very novel. Five years ago, you needed to let a blog give away your song for free just to get a post! Soundcloud changed all of that, and Spotify is slowly doing the same thing to file sharing websites. I think there’s a bright future for recorded music.
*Note: Images taken from Goldroom’s Instagram account