Ethan Gold: Five Easy Q’s
Curator’s Note: because of my dear friend John Bernstein, an only-slightly confused and possibly coerced artist known as Ethan Gold has agreed, against all odds, to attend this strange Fall Equinox celebration in the woods. He’ll be sharing his music and talents with people he’s never met. Including me. There will be no wifi and no cell signal and nothing to distract guests from his musical stylings as you sit on a rock in the East Fork — pausing to remember how art can touch you, when it slows down, and you let it.
I’m so grateful to Ethan, and to John, for being a part of this crazy idea. Here’s his 5 Easy Q’s …
Q: Are you a woodsy person?
In theory, yes. In practice, not as much as I’d like. But of all natural environments, it is absolutely woods that are my mystical home.
Q: What are your associations with Fall?
I have always connected most naturally with the autumn. Biologically. Internally. But also it’s evident externally in the auburn tones in my sideburns, and freckles like rustling leaves in various states of decay and defiance. The air is invigorating. I have some rough family history in autumn, too, and so unasked-for memories pop up with the changes of the air. But also, New York city in autumn, the coats coming out, the quietness, the inexorable sureness of the season.
Q: What do you want people to experience through your work?
Orchards growing from the soil of both dreams and nightmares. Comfort in the middle of the night. Heart opening from naked quietness. Kindness and inner listening. All in the service of joy.
Q: Art and Nature? Discuss.
Art is a form of nature. Nature is a part of what some call God. We are part of nature. Nature is the best unselfconscious art. Art done in defiance of nature is ugly; art done imitating nature is pretty. Art done collaborating with nature changes us, and reconnects us to the history in our cells, to being alive, to everything that ever was, will be, is.
Q: What is your current favorite thing in our city?
That the wasteland spaces are turning into places where someone’s dreams of food, art, and music are being made real, so it has become a real city, interconnected and infinite.
Ethan Gold, a native son of San Francisco, was raised in the hangover that followed free love, when the concept of family was trampled by baby boomers stumbling their way through history. His father is Beat-adjunct writer Herbert Gold, and his mother Melissa was killed in a helicopter crash along with the legendary rock promoter Bill Graham. For Ethan, the escape was always into new songs and the dreams where he hears them.
While living in a collapsing building in Los Angeles, Gold first stepped into public consciousness when he produced and arranged Elvis Perkins’ blog-hyped stunner Ash Wednesday. While moonlighting as bass player and resident musician in his brother Ari’s celebrity-driven folk party band the Honey Brothers, with Entourage star Adrian Grenier on drums, and also scoring his twin’s debut film Adventures of Power, Ethan continued honing his intensely sensitive music, eventually self-releasing (in America) his debut art rock album Songs From A Toxic Apartment to underground acclaim (“Emotions delivered with an unfiltered, glaring legibility”- Pitchfork; “The most interesting record I’ve listened to in the past 5 years.”- Rock N Roll Experience.) He then began rolling out a series of videos from the album showcasing his visceral approach, which eventually led him to side work as a video director.
While working on his next film score in New York, Ethan fell in a freak accident at a warehouse and had a significant head injury. Losing the ability to speak and to do complex tasks like sound engineering, during his convalescence his songwriting clarified further. He found himself returning to his childhood influences, being re-inspired by the futuristic sounds that were a refuge in post-hippie San Francisco. He dug up an album of “synthstrumental paintings” from high school, and completed a collection from live covers he’d released on YouTube of some of his favorite songs, from New Order and Bauhaus to the musical Hair. He played bass with San Francisco literary rockers The Size Queens, and finished the haunting score to the upcoming The Song of Sway Lake with his songs being sung by John Grant and the Staves.
Underneath this activity Ethan has been secretly developing an alternate identity as Vyprz, a very current synth pop band with a cast of hand-picked guest singers from around the world. It will be steely, high-energy 1983 futurism mixed with a current message of spiritual renewal. “New Age New Wave” as he cheekily calls it.
Ethan is currently finishing his solo follow-up to Songs From a Toxic Apartment, the multipart epic Earth City, with songs old and new, including his evergreen romantic-political anthem “Our Love is Beautiful,” which has racked up millions of views on unauthorized fan uploads and cover versions on YouTube. For the upcoming release, Ethan went round the globe, with a phone as the only crew, filming hundreds of people, which along with fan-submitted footage will become the official video for the song, and a love letter back to the world. Where his debut was intensely personal, Earth City is populist, but rather than the populism of fear, it’s a call for sensitivity in a world gone brutal, a reflection of humanity’s longing for love and vast nature within in the global grid of endless cities.