‘Arson Dreams’ provides an intricate look inside the creative mind of multi-instrumentalist Goldwash. From top to bottom, the LA-based multi-instrumentalist expertly suspends disbelief to create an escapist album of the times. Over 13 tracks, hazy psychedelic sonics invite us deeper into each world he has carefully crafted. The album follows his recent collaborations on Kevin Abstract’s latest single ‘Sierra Nights’, as well as production aid on BROCKHAMPTON’s most recent album, ‘ROADRUNNER’
"Any idea you might want to try, don’t overthink... it just try it. You don’t need every idea to work, if something doesn’t then try again."
Goldwash began his journey into music at a young age, around six when he started to play the piano. He quickly took it seriously, and by the time he was nine or ten he was playing classical piano. Nearing the beginning of high school, he got into jazz music, he doubled up and started learning jazz piano on top of classical piano. It was soon after this when he began songwriting, leading to some pretty experimental songs he tells me. He went to a more artistic high school in Baltimore - “Bands like Animal Collective and Yeasayer went to my school.” he continues, “Just in general the scene in Baltimore is great, there’s Beach House and Future Islands and a few other really experimental bands that came through and had a lot of success” Gabe admits that from a young age, watching these experimental bands find their success gave him the mindset that to be successful he had to make as crazy art as possible.
Growing up alongside him, and sharing the love for music was his brother and musician Baird. “We definitely pushed each other creatively from young ages” he tells me, remembering the times the two joined bands together in school, and spent hours jamming with each other, now sharing studio sessions with BROCKHAMPTON, and sharing sound on Goldwash’s own ‘Red Sky’ and ‘Fumes’.
He tells me the moment a career in music cemented itself into his head was once he discovered the social element of music. "I would go to sports practice and I would come home and do my scales on the piano. I loved music but it was kind of disconnected from anything else going on.” Once he started playing in bands and finding collaborators, he realised what an asset he could be. He knew the theory, and had a huge skillset building up.
‘Arson Dreams’ is that skillset at its finest, finetuned over years of musicality and two albums. The tools he brings to this album are like no other, allowing Goldwash to open new worlds for himself to explore his sound.
How are you feeling now that ‘Arson Dreams’ is out?
I’m so stoked! I’m so happy! I finished the album over a year ago, mastered and everything. It's been sitting on my computer since mid-July 2020. I’m more excited about it now than I was in July. I listen back now and I am extremely happy with how it all sounds, it felt like it’s aged well for me. I’m really proud of it, it feels like a really interesting capsule of time from where I was at.
It is such an amazing listen from top to bottom! What is your favourite song on the album?
Thank you! I really appreciate it. This is a tough one, but I’m going to say ‘Fumes’ is probably my favourite. I really want to dig into the world of ‘Fumes’ more... that is a world that I don’t think I have come even close to before, I really want to dig into that uneasy rock-ish energy with moments of psychedelic harmonies. With all the organs and the reverbs swirling around, moments of pounding intense drums. I want to really dig into that world. I also love Fields ‘Pt. 1’ and Fields ‘Pt. 2’. I think as twos songs they pair nicely. If someone said I could play one song from the album, I’d play ‘Fumes’... and if someone told me to play two songs I would pick ‘Fields’.
I think mine is ‘Lonely Summer’ or ‘On The Way’.
Thank you so much, it was a lot of widowing down to get these songs. I wanted to feel like there was a purpose for each of the songs musically on the record. ‘On The Way’ was fun man, I do a lot of production for hip-hop and other genres, and I didn't think of it as a Goldwash song when I started making it. Then the further along I went, I realised it was totally something that I would put out.
What's the chemistry like working with your brother, Baird?
It is great, we work really well together because we have been doing it forever. We often go into the studio together with an artist, and it’s just funny because inevitably people realise that we are actually brothers. It’s fun, we will be on each other about shit and teasing each other and a bit mean, and at the end of the day we want to be colleagues, but at the same time we have a fraternal relationship. It helps because we are able to be extremely honest with each other. We also specialise in slightly different things too. We are working on a project right now, it's called ‘The South Hill Experiment’.
While making the album, did you discover anything new about your creative process?
Totally! Another important collaborator on the project was the sound mixer Seth Manchester, I worked with him on my previous album and he was an amazing mix engineer and the way that he approached it and seeing the things he was able to do with a mix, it really influenced how I wanted to produce this album. Knowing how the later stages happen meant I was able to put way more energy into the arrangement, recording techniques, song-writing and production. I really learned about production - I wanted each song to have its own production world... and I love my last album, but I don’t think all of the songs have their own production world like this album does.
You worked on the production for Kevin Abstract’s latest single ‘Sierra Nights’, what was that like?
Oh, it was amazing! I’m such a fan of Ian’s music, it's so sick and he is just a great guy as well. We were working on it, and the very, very beginning was this sort of guitar-synth thing... I had done a session with this guy called Anthony Watts who is a really sick singer and songwriter, he does a lot of stuff in the K-Pop world and he just did a song with Pittbull, he’s super talented. We went in and were both kind of fried, we had both come from other sessions. You can’t force songwriting to happen, so we thought to make some textures and some samples, and that’s when we made the guitar riff. I filed it away and a couple months later I was in with Ian and Baird, and I pulled up the idea to them – you can hardly hear the original sample in the production, but it was a really cool emotional space to work with. We just kept adding, it sounds cliché to say this but... it was one of the most intuitive, fast-paced, not over thinking it session. Ian was on the mic just freestyling while Baird and I were tapping in and out on the computer adding drums and stuff. We were just improvising on top of the loop while Ian was finding his flow. We got the basis of that down, and Ian loved it so much. He called up Romil, who then took the beat to a much higher level, you know how he goes. We almost finished it that night, except for the hook and the outro.
I love the outro!
Thanks man! I made a lot of the outro live on Twitch in July... I was just freestyling ideas. I sent it over to Romil and he told me how well it worked for ‘Sierra Nights’. When I heard what him and Kevin had done with it blew me away, it was such a cool moment. I had been playing the demo we made that night like four times a week since we worked on it, and to have that outro made it feel more like a piece. I love that song; I was so happy to be a part of it.
Did working with Romil teach you anything about your own music?
Oh my god yeah, how long do you have? It has been a really good process working with those guys because they have a really creative approach to production and songwriting. It's very modular I’d say, they take one thing from one song and put it on another song. Now I just know to make, make, make and make! Generate musical ideas and piece them together later. Any idea you might want to try, don’t overthink... it just try it. You don’t need every idea to work, if something doesn’t then try again. It’s much more exploratory. I’d say Romil embodies that to a huge degree. He is so productive it is unbelievable.
What’s the best way to listen to ‘Arson Dreams’?
I would say in the middle of the night. Apparently, people used to sleep in two chunks... if you know about that, this is an album to listen to between those two chunks. Sleep for four hours, wake up and listen to Arson Dreams, then go back to sleep for another four hours. Switch your sleeping cycle to listen to this album! That’s what I’ll tell people.