“I think it’s important to be able to play your songs on an acoustic guitar and sing them. Otherwise, it’s probably not a good song.”
Not an unusual sentiment.
Unless you’re a major player in the electronic/dance world.
Just ask Josh Legg. Under his professional nom de plum Goldroom, Legg’s found considerable success as a producer.
But at heart, he’s a songwriter. His influences (the non-electronic ones) veer toward the likes of Tom Petty, Al Green and Ryan Adams. On his new EP It’s Like You Never Went Away, you’ll hear hints of French disco, bass lines inspired by New Order and angelic vocals layered over (as Legg describes) his “nostalgic production tones.”
It’s sonically grand, sure. But at heart: real songs, with real emotions, evoking loneliness, the ocean, the West Coast.
And these were all songs that all started on an acoustic guitar.
“If you hear the demos, they almost sound country,” he says. “I’m trying to bring honest authentic songwriting to our genre, which is, admittedly, often devoid of that.”
Credit this to Legg’s background, which early on had a more organic, less electronic focus. Raised in Boston, Legg started playing cello and guitar at an early age, writing his own songs and modifying them on a four-track recorder purchased by one of his troubadour cousins.
“I was trying to make these songs I wrote sound as good as possible,” he says. “I didn’t know that what I was doing at the time was producing my own music.”
Legg continued to write music after shifting to the West Coast and attending USC, but now he was tweaking his work on Logic Pro, Apple’s digital audio workstation. “That’s actually how I was introduced to electronic music,” he says. “I discovered Air, Daft Punk and all these French artists. It became that small niche of dance music I love.”
He was also showcasing his music for the first time. His first real band, NightWaves (released under his own label, Binary), attracted some interest. Unfortunately, the project fizzled. “The singer wanted a louder voice in writing, which I totally understand,” says Legg. “But it was a slow process, and I had all these songs stagnating. So that was the start of Goldroom.”
Named after a tiny mariachi bar in Echo Park with “spiritual power” (“It was a good place to get drunk and find answers to all of life’s hardest questions”), Goldroom served an ode to Legg’s adopted city of Los Angeles.
Musically, Legg had a mission statement. “I wanted to make songs that sounded like early 2000 collaborations with [French disco artists] Fred Falke and Alan Braxe. Use a lot of live bass, make it funky…I thought if I could write traditional rock/pop songs with that production, I’d have something really special.”
On his early EPs, Legg sang. But after his remix work took off, he noticed his production work jelled particularly well with female vocalists. “I get along well with women, and we have a good connection artistically,” he says. So not entirely not by design, Goldroom’s new EP features four songs by female vocalists, including George Maple, Kayslee Collins, Chela and Nikki Segal.
The music on It’s Like You Never Went Away was a collaborative process. Says Legg: “Take the track ‘Embrace’—me and George Maple, we basically sat across from each other in the studio. She came in with a melody, then I added some parts, we added some lyrics together. It’s important and rewarding to me to be in the same room, creating these songs.”
Goldroom will bring these new collaborations on the road this summer, with Segal coming along to provide vocals. It’ll be a mix of full band shows and DJ appearances, with an interesting twist—“I’m doing all my DJing on boat parties this summer,” says Legg. “I got tired of playing the same cities and venues. I think a beach, BBQ and boat is more ideal. When I lived in Boston, I spent summers on this sailboat with my dad, listening to music. I miss that vibe. And it’s like an antidote to the whole club culture.”
He adds: “I’m fortunate with what I do with Goldroom. I get to be firmly in both sides of this music world. I can DJ somewhere like Hard Summer in LA, which is great. I can also play a live show with a full band. I kind of take my cues from James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.”
“His career, it’s really my ideal: he never lost his authenticity no matter what he was doing.”
Singer, songwriter, producer, and electronic pop artist Goldroom (AKA Josh Legg) will release his debut full-length album – entitled West of the West – on September 23rd via Downtown Records/Fontana … Read More »