Interview // My purpose on earth is to ‘leave a legacy’, says Goldie

The 'alchemist' on his first album in ten years, his orchestral tour and being 20 years ahead of the curve

Drum and bass pioneer and MBE award holder Goldie has an insatiable desire for success in everything he achieves. The gold-toothed national treasure returned to the spotlight earlier this year, with the announcement of his first full-length album since 2007’s Rufige Kru, The Journey Man. The return of lengthy compositions and intense jungle rhythms from the Metalheadz boss caused a huge stir in the world of electronic music, both waking up old skool heads and introducing itself to the next generation of DnB fans.

Following the success of his latest project The Journey Man, the MOBO award-winning songwriter, DJ and producer is bringing his latest release to Colston Hall this Friday for what will be a mind-blowing, live experience of his new album. Featuring the highly acclaimed Heritage Ensemble and guests, this show promises to bring to life drum and bass, whilst morphing it into a contemporary, classical sound.

it soon became clear that this larger-than-life character was best left to his own devices to tell his story, his way

It’s not every day you get to have a chat with the drum and bass granddaddy, so when Nitelife were asked to have a chat with Goldie ahead of his Colston Hall show, we jumped at the golden opportunity. Speaking to us from his now permanent home in Phuket, Thailand; we launched into the interview loaded with curious questions, but it soon became clear that this larger-than-life character was best left to his own devices to tell his story, his way.

Diving straight in to talk about his upcoming show at Colston Hall with Heritage Ensemble and guests, Goldie explains why he believes his show is more relevant now, than ever.

‘The thing is, I’ve done this all before, this isn’t new to me. I did it twenty years ago and I did it seventeen years ago. When we did it back then, people didn’t know what the fuck we were doing. I don’t think anyone really understood what ‘live drum and bass’ meant. It was a bit like watching an escalator that wasn’t moving, everyone was confused with it and they couldn’t understand the live elements of it.

I think it’s taken twenty years for people to get their heads around it.

‘I think it’s taken twenty years for people to get their heads around it. I also think it’s taken nearly the best part of twenty years for technology to really catch up. Everyone knows about the orchestral stuff I’ve been doing for years anyway, it’s just taken a while for people to catch up with that. But now everyone is doing it apparently, The Hacienda are doing it, Pete Tong… and I’m like wow, ok.

‘I think everyone thought I was mad as a box of frogs when I originally talked about orchestral stuff. They thought I was fucking mad. I always felt like I was a witch…you know, like “burn the witch!”

I always felt like I was a witch…you know, like “burn the witch!”

The show at Colston Hall marks his final UK date of The Journey Man tour, a city which has special significance for the drum and bass pioneer, who will be rounding off the show with a special end of tour party at Old Crown Court, including a three-hour ‘retro/ future’ set from the man himself, plus some special guests.

I’ve always had a beautiful love for Bristol. It’s always had a very healthy musical heritage.

‘I’ve always had a beautiful love for Bristol. It’s always had a very healthy musical heritage. Smith & Mighty, Massive Attack and The Wild Bunch laid down a path for people to follow and that’s real. You can’t fault the Bristol music scene.

‘To be honest, I think drum and bass music has changed the electronic scene the same way Bristol’s Banksy has changed the art world – it’s turned it on its fucking head.’

I think drum and bass music has changed the electronic scene the same way Bristol’s Banksy has changed the art world – it’s turned it on its fucking head

Moving on to talk about the release of the self-described ‘big brother’ to his 1995 album Timeless, wearing his heart on his sleeve, Goldie explains why The Journey Man has taken nearly ten years to surface.

‘It was just life. I had a lot of growing up to do and I struggled with addiction for a very long time. I have been spending time practicing yoga for the past eight years. And as an artist, I don’t just leave the studio and stop doing stuff – I am creating all the time. I also spend a lot of time painting.

I had a lot of growing up to do and I struggled with addiction for a very long time. I have been spending time practicing yoga for the past eight years.

‘I want to make it clear there was a very strong song writing process behind the creation of The Journey Man. People ask me what the album is about and I just think, have you even fucking listened to the album? Maybe you’re listening but you’re not hearing. It’s about freedom, it’s about redemption and it’s about love. But a lot of people don’t understand that, they don’t understand that part of it.’

One of the most standout tracks on the album is the 18-minute Redemption, being coined the ‘prog-rock sized centre piece of the album’ by Resident Advisor.

‘The sample for Redemption was taken by Mad Mike’s Hi-Tech Jazz, which at the time was a huge record in Detroit. I asked Mad Mike if it was something I could do and he gave me his blessing. Afterwards, he said it was a great take on it and it felt like it came from Detroit. I’ve always wanted to do a techno record, as I really recognise what Detroit techno has done for the world, so it was nice to have that process verified by him.’

Since its release, The Journey Man has received both positive and conflicting reviews from music fans. The mixed response to his release doesn’t faze the award-winning producer though, as he continues to look ahead to the bigger picture.

Some people will probably say ‘he’s off his fucking head’ with The Journey Man, but give it twenty more years and it’ll be a different story all over again

‘Some people will probably say ‘he’s off his fucking head’ with The Journey Man, but give it twenty more years and it’ll be a different story all over again.

‘People forget, when Timeless came out it took two fucking years for people to understand it. Inner City Life never even made it to the fucking charts. I think at one point it might’ve been at number 47, which in record company terms is called a fucking flop. That’s the thing, you’ve got to put it into perspective. You’ve also got to put it into perspective when Timeless won two MOBO awards for best album and best artist. It was up against fucking Jamiroquai, Destiny’s Child and George Michael. They said it was music that would never last!’

If the long-awaited new album and tour wasn’t enough, earlier this month Goldie surprised fans with the announcement of a collaborative release with grime super talent Skepta, which will be part of a Metalheadz vinyl-only EP release due this December.

‘I co-wrote the music for this track last October. I know Skepta does his grime thing, but I just wanted to flip it. When a lot of stuff sounds the same, the one thing you can guarantee I will do is flip it. I wanted to do a Beck meets Wu Tang thing. I wanted to capture that Beck aspect with a loose breakbeat and I think his voice really suits it. When we first flipped that beat and sent it to him, he replied with twenty-five fire emojis!’

When a lot of stuff sounds the same, the one thing you can guarantee I will do is flip it.

Finally, as we came to the end of a whirlwind interview, we wanted to find out what has been the highlight of Goldie’s extensive career so far.

‘I don’t think I’ve done it yet. I think I’m at a point in my life where I know so little about it. I think reinvention is the best tool you can give somebody and I think reinventing myself in Asia and realising what true alchemy is for me – that’s the best gift I can give myself.

‘In electronic music, my job is to photograph time, that’s my job as an alchemist. The thing is, we’ve got one job to do. As an electronic artist, you push buttons, so at least put some fucking soul into it.

‘I think the fact I have never faltered with my art, makes me smile and laugh out loud on my own. Really, I know my purpose on this world is to leave a fucking legacy.’

I think the fact I have never faltered with my art, makes me smile and laugh out loud on my own. Really, I know my purpose on this world is to leave a fucking legacy

GOLDIE LIVE:
24 November – Goldie and Heritage Orchestra, Colston Hall
Facebook event // tickets

24 November – Goldie end of tour after party, Old Crown Court
Facebook event // tickets

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