If you’re a fan of EDM and you’re not listening to Los Angeles based DJ and producer Goldroom (Josh Legg), you’re missing out.
Last week, Goldroom and his live band came to NYC to perform at Rough Trade and the Bowery Ballroom with Chela, an Australian alt-pop singer whose vocals are featured in his song “Fifteen.” His recent EP Embrace, released in September 2013, is a favorite amongst fans with its dreamy vocals from Ariela Jacobs. The music video for the EP’s lead single, “Embrace,” released last month, was directed by fashion photographer Carlos Nunez.
I got the chance to sit down with Goldroom at Rough Trade before Wednesday’s show to talk to him about his childhood, his experiences as a DJ and his life in LA.
Me: Tell me about your childhood and what it was like growing up in Boston.
Goldroom: Well it was great in some ways. I spent a lot of time with my parents traveling and I sort of grew up on boats for the most part. Every summer was spent sort of exploring the Northeast with my dad on our little sh*tty boat. Those are some of my more fonder memories from childhood. It wasn’t until sort of my late teens when I “found myself” for lack of a better word I guess, but I liked Boston. I have really fond memories of Boston but it wasn’t really until I moved out to LA that I sort of really became who I am.
Me: Who are your musical inspirations?
G: That’s a crazy hard question because many of them, I think I take inspiration from, you know, almost everything that I listen too at all times, but you know, when I sit down at the end of the day and I think about what artist I wanna be like it’s always older artists from the 60s and 70s that are my songwriting heroes. Guys like Al Green, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan— these are the guys that, I feel like wrote songs that would of worked a hundred years ago and wrote songs that would work in a hundred years and that’s really what I care about the most.
Me: Where did the name Goldroom come from?
G: Well, the very basic answer is that it’s my favorite bar in LA. It’s a little place in Echo Park called the Gold Room, which is this tiny little dive bar that used to have Mariachi bands and free tacos some nights and it was great. But, in reality, you know, when I started thinking about it more, Southern California and the Southwest has influenced me so much since I’ve moved out there that it’s sort of one big giant “gold room,” and that’s when I actually started thinking about what it would mean to name the project Goldroom. That’s sort of the real explanation.
Me: Tell me about your first experience as a DJ.
G: Oh man. Well, my old band NightWaves, we started releasing music. That was actually the first time in my life that I’d ever actually released songs that I had written. It was the first time that I’d ever given anything away to the public, and then sort of out of nowhere people started to ask us to DJ and Kyle (Petersen) and I, we had no idea how to DJ or what really to do. We kind of figured it out on the fly, and I think we DJed a pool party at the Standard Rooftop in LA and I remember it being super fun. I DJ very, very, differently now, but, you know, back then it was a laptop and lots of controllers and knick-knacks and doing all this crazy stuff. It was super fun, but it’s very different than what I do now. I don’t think we train wrecked anything—I think it was okay but, wow, it’s kind of crazy to think back on that.
Me: What are some words you would use to describe your music?
G: I don’t know, I hope ‘honest,’ more than anything else. I think that the style of music or the production behind it might change over time and I don’t know if I’m going to be into the same genre or the same style later on but at the end of the day I hope that the songwriting is honest and true. So, more than anything else I hope that’s what my music as a whole remains.
Me: Of all the artists you’ve collaborated with, which one has been your favorite so far?
G: Hahaha, you’re trying to get me in trouble! I guess I’ll just say, because she’s here now, Chela, because I feel like we’re musical soul mates in a lot of ways, and it happens to be that she sang on “Fifteen” which is a song that, you know, I had written, and that resonated in the right way with her. We started writing songs after that and I love all of her music, and, I don’t want to speak for her, but, I think she likes my music, and we just have a really strong connection in what melodies we like and what kind of harmonies we like, and the type of lyrics that we like to write. She’s sort of a special collaborator.
Me: What is the craziest thing that ever happened to you during a live set?
G: I mean, I don’t think it really gets—I mean, I’m sure it could get crazier but there have been three or four times where I’ve had people, like, very aggressively sort of attack me in a positive way, but like sort of getting “love tackled” for lack of a better word. And that’s always a really weird experience because I’m really happy that it’s happening and I’m also sort of scared that it’s happening at the same time and I don’t really know what to do so it’s a good thing and a bad thing.
Me: Do you have any rituals that you perform before going out on stage?
G: No, I sort of wish that I had more. I definitely take some time, especially before the live shows, to have some quiet time to myself where I think about the show and sort of visualize what’s going to happen and it puts me in a better place than to come running around and trying to talk with friends to do this and that and the other thing.
Me: What is your favorite track off of your ‘Verano Mix 2014′?
G: You know, I really love that remix that’s near the end of London Grammar. It’s just really beautiful, and the idea of using like a clean electric guitar line that has the basis for like a sort of mellow house song is really exciting to me and really inspiring.
Me: Where is one place you’d like to play a live set that you haven’t already?
G: London for sure. We’ve played a lot of places in North and South America but I’d love to do a full live band thing in London. In the right situation I just know a lot of people would like us to be there and I think it would be really exciting.
Me: What is one thing you love most about being a DJ?
G: The fact that it’s like just pure. Since I have less to worry about when I’m DJing as compared to doing it live, it allows me to in some ways be in the moment sort of in some ways even a little more. And I love how fun it is. I love DJing because it’s just you and the crowd interacting in such a different way, and you can take in so many different directions. Whereas with a live set it’s like, you’re getting me for the next hour, and with a DJ set its more like we’re going on a journey together and we’ll see what happens.
Me: How does playing at a music festival differ from playing at a venue such as Rough Trade?
G: You sort of have to fight to find that audience connection. You’re just so much further away from everybody, and when you look out I think you’re probably playing 50 rows back at a festival, but at a club there are people right up in your face so it’s a lot easier to connect with people and catch their energy. So, at a festival you just have to have a different mentality and understanding of how each one is a little bit different.
Me: What do you like most about NYC?
G: The energy. I really like the electricity. There’s no other city in the world that has this sort of “anything-can-happen-to-me-in-the-next-five-hours” sort of feeling. In New York there’s just this electricity that doesn’t stop.
Me: So I notice you’re wearing a wedding band. How long have you been married?
G: Just over a year and a half, closing in on two years. My wife Lessa and I, we live a nice little life in LA and it’s great.
Goldroom and his wife, Lessa