Feature Opinion

Mathew Gold: The Golden Boy Returns

With the recent release of his second album, singer-songwriter Mathew Gold admits that his journey as a solo artist has only just begun. It’s a crisp autumn morning as we meet for a quick coffee near the end of a bustling Bree Street when Gold swiftly proceeds to lay all cards on the table.

It’s been four years since his debut record hit the shelves and throughout the layover period Gold has attained what he calls a “crazy arsenal” with over fifty complete songs of which only fourteen made the sophomore album’s final cut. It appears this decision was made with clear intention as Gold explains how he wanted to craft something worthwhile consuming so that his effort across the past three years wouldn’t go unnoticed by the listener. “This is not just fourteen songs,” he states assuredly, “these are the best fourteen songs.” Quality thereby stands as an uncompromising factor in this regard as Gold shares how the drive to create something of an international standard primarily served as one of his key objectives.

His aspirations therefore reach beyond local lines by facilitating a direction for this self-titled release that followed something Gold confesses as “still very new” to him. No collaborations, for instance, is an unexpected development Gold had embraced this time around. A history of successful collaborations with artists such as AKA and Goodluck proved how Gold was capable of finding musical common ground with several other musicians, but didn’t necessarily showcase his talent as a single entity. To not collaborate meant he could rely on his voice as an instrument, whilst also experimenting with various producers and separate rhythm structures to the extent that Gold reckons he became somewhat of a “conductor.”

It’s a bold move that he asserts he had never had the courage to fully pursue until now. “A lot of people may know my name or may have heard a song I feature in,” Gold comments, “but they don’t know me or who I really am and I think this album explains it. This album explains the entire journey that I’ve been through in a musical way. It’s almost like a Mathew Gold Musical.” We both laugh at the thought of such a production and for the next few minutes I find it difficult to not feel as thrilled as Gold in response to his animated character.

“I’m actually a lot more open, personal, honest, and even vulnerable lyrically,” he tells me, “and if you listen to the album you’ll have a better understanding of who I am not just musically, but as an individual.” He divulges how there are ten producers alongside the album’s fourteen songs who shared his vision in working with no constraints in mind. “I’m not classically trained so my approach to music is completely different,” Gold ruminates, “If I had more training I might not have gone where I eventually went. I think music sometimes wants to tell you that you’re wrong and I didn’t want any rules. I wanted listeners to wonder how we got there.” Gold mentions Sketchy Bongo as one of the producers he favoured precisely for this reason, describing how their like-minded nature in being risky aided each arrangement and melody assembled. The result hosts a recording experience Gold deems liberating, insisting how the risk often enabled him to “try stupid stuff in studio” and not be afraid to let his voice crack.

Gold’s international sound has led to an influx of new listeners who even doubt his identity as a South African. “I get a Tweet about it almost everyday,” he replies after I ask what it feels like when someone is surprised to learn that he is local. The conversation steers to radio thereafter as Gold defends his international sound as the product of his attention to quality. “I’m competing against Bieber, Drake, and The Weeknd,” Gold continues, “Their songs are charting beside mine and that’s the benchmark. I have to either meet that level or surpass it.” Radio play, however, is not Gold’s top-most priority. “I want to be like Lionel Richie or Lenny Kravitz,” he adds, “and to make music over decades that has integrity and honesty. Music that will remain timeless like theirs.”

With that practicality in mind Gold has given his favourite artists or styles mere “winks” throughout his writing that includes a range of flavours from reggae to jazz, which he knows a “true music fan” will appreciate. “The entire album is about that,” he maintains, “All those small things. Sometimes I’m even whispering at the back of a song, but you wouldn’t know it’s there unless I told you.”

There’s something admirable in the way Gold recounts all this information to me, sharing childhood stories and studio sessions while also gleaming over our mutual respect for Red Hot Chili Peppers. His confidence is a trait he’s earned with pride as he speaks about his music as if they were like children finally old enough to leave the nest. “I feel like Mathew Gold has only started now,” he comments as a final statement, “It’s a new phase of life and a newfound confidence not only in myself as a writer, but also my vocal capabilities. It’s time to show myself off for a change.”

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Listen to “Mathew Gold” below on Deezer.