Goons growing up: GTA on writing their debut album and what comes next [Interview]
Somewhere between Seattle and Santa Fe, GTA are on the road again between stops on their latest touring stretch. The pair are counting down the final hours before until their debut album Good Times Ahead is officially released, and anticipation is nearly boiling over. Its a monumental milestone in the career of any recording artist, and the restlessness along with an equal measure of excitement, has reached a fervent high for the Miami-natives. These goons are about to have their day in the sun. Their self-titled debut full-length album purposefully eludes fans’ preconceived notions, and as the project’s launch date inches closer, Julio and Matt sat down with Dancing Astronaut to decompress a little bit and discuss Good Times Ahead just before the LP’s official release.
The listener’s conception of the album will definitely change between listen-throughs. Its a crafted medley of different sounds, genres, and tempos, though with a single front-to-back listen, its evident that Good Times, from the drawing board to pressing the masters, materialized in an exciting way.
“We don’t really have a plan when we go into the studio. We just go in and follow our instincts and whatever comes out, comes out! We have always liked the idea of making a longer more connected body of work that you can listen to from front to back. During our Goons Take America tour last year we had put together a little writing camp and met with some very talented writers/vocalists: Jarina De Marco, Karina, RKCB, & these guys Duo – Matt Cash & Nova. We started writing to all these different beats that we’ve been working on over the years. After touching up a few of these songs we started to realize we had a certain vibe going and we really loved it so we kept going for it!”
The defiantly aggressive “death to genres” mentality seems noticeably absent from the ten track collection, although the pair successfully continue to avoid leaning on any specific genre over the course of their LP. Moreover, each track individually feels more tempered and refined than past work. Past hits like “The Crowd” and “Prison Riot” typically invoke a certain sensation. How did your headspace differ on an album that doesn’t seem to feature a single “drop,” on it anywhere?
“We’ve been toying with the concept of making an album for a while and when you listen to a lot of electronic artists albums they don’t seem too cohesive to us. We feel like a lot of the “drops” people would expect from GTA [don’t] really belong [on] an album format. We just wanted to make music that you can jam to and drive around listening to and singing along with dope beats that are a bit different. Stuff that we would want to listen to on a daily basis. Not that we don’t love drops but we just wanted to show the world what we think an album should sound like.”
You have work from What So Not, Vince Staples, and Tinashe on the record too. It seems almost like a draft class of talent that are all assisting on Good Times. Elaborate on the process of coordinating a whole record with all that fresh talent?
“Man, everyone we worked with are so talented and definitely all changing things up in their own way. What So Not… I mean have you heard ‘Divide & Conquer?’ It’s incredible. Vince Staples with his ‘Prima Donna’ album! Tinashe slays everything she does. Wax Motif is an amazing friend. We love working with him. Tunji and IamSu! has been killing it on their stuff too. But we really wanted to give a big spotlight to all the up and comers on the album who are massively talented! The RKCB guys are so creative with their writing and their vocals! We love working with these guys. Jarina De Marco is also amazing! She speaks 4 languages and is so down to make anything just like us. Karina has such a beautiful voice! And two other writers that we worked with that helped so much are this production group, Duo, Matt Cash & Nova and also Stylaz Fuego from Australia on “Get It All”.
Fans may listen to this album and be introduced to a new GTA, a style unlike they’d really known before. Which track on the album would you say best embodies the personas that went into this project?
“We think “All Caught Up” is the most we’ve ever pushed ourselves in trying something a bit different. Julio had been sitting on this bass line for almost 2 years and it was the first song where we felt like we didn’t need a drop and really fell in love with the idea of not overdoing anything in the song and just focus on the actual music itself. Less is more!”
Good Times Ahead comes after a long and successful year for you guys. Death To Genres 2 hasn’t even turned a year old yet. JWLS IS BORED came as sort of a mixtape in the interim. Now that your debut record is about to hit shelves — you’ve dropped an EP, a “mixtape,” and now a full-length album in a year’s time — what’s next?
“MORE MUSIC!! haha! We still have ALL these [collaborations] and crazy club/festival tracks that we still play in our sets that people have been asking for. We’re already finishing up another project that we’ll have to talk about later. The ‘Death to Genres’ mentality is more about us being able to produce/DJ whatever we want. We still hold on to that with all the different styles and tempos in the album.
All told, Good Times Ahead is creatively chameleonic, and new favorites from the record are bound to spring up with each listen-through. The 10-track release feels mature. It feels almost as if its reflective of the entire electronic dance scene growing up a little bit, signaling that fans are ready for something more sophisticated from the pair that perhaps packs a little less punch. Without compromising on style, the goons seem to have grown up a little too, and their aesthetic as artists has come to artfully display that growth as well.