Ethan Gold
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Ethan Gold

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States
Solo Alternative Indie

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"Ethan Gold's taking on the World with his album Songs from a Toxic Apartment"

In a world where "LOL" and "OMG" are the NORM, it is astounding anyone can construct a sentence with depth. Then you have Ethan Gold; musician, record label owner, a man who when asked about South Park can give you an essay. His album Songs from a Toxic Apartment doesn't drop until January 11, 2011 but in the mean time you can get to know the man behind the tunes of this singer/songwriter.

Kendra Beltran: You must have been an advanced kid, writing a story like "The Dreammaker" at only four years old. Is it out and about somewhere for people can read it?

Ethan Gold: It´s in storage somewhere. I´d guess the writing is more direct than poetic. I haven´t read it in a while.

KB: When I read what your short story was about, I was quickly reminded of one of my favorite books, "The BFG" by Roald Dahl. Was that a book you grew up reading?

EG: I don´t recall reading that. Actually I don´t recall much from my childhood, and a grand total of two images from the time before four when this comes from, other than my nightmares, which were vivid and chronic.

KB: Was there a man in your head at night planting dreams and nightmares?

EG: That´s open for debate. It may not have been a man.

KB: Other than little men and writing stories, you taught yourself another art form. What was the first thing you taught yourself to do in the musical sense?

EG: I started banging on pianos and it was always writing, since I didn´t have lessons til I grew up. My first pieces were insistent rhythms on clusters of notes. I´ll to return to that kind of music a few albums down the road maybe…When I learned what chords were I wrote something I think I called "French Piece" which made me think of striped shirts and accordions and gondoliers. I think I had my fantasy-lands mixed up but music was my escape, that´s for sure.

KB: Keeping on the advanced route, you went to Harvard. Was that your first choice when it came time to head off to higher learning?

EG: Yes, I don´t know why. Cultural imprinting most likely. School doesn´t mean a lot to me.

KB: For me, college was filler. It was that thing I did because I didn't want to be at home. It probably wasn't for you, but I have to ask, was college always something you wanted to do in life?

EG: Its best function was getting me away from home, same as a lot of people. I didn´t know what I was doing there but I was apparently good enough at standardized tests and writing, so I went.

KB: Harvard aside, San Francisco is your hometown and you moved down to Los Angeles in 99. What's the biggest difference between the two?

EG: San Francisco burritos have cheese and guacamole and vegetables and fog in them, LA´s have the delicious flavors of auto body shops.

KB: If you happened to see the South Park aimed at San Francisco, did they get it right? Is it a city full of smug people in hybrids?

EG: I don´t have a tv, but what I´ve seen of South Park it´s really funny. Then again I think caring about things is a trait that´s really easy to pick on. It reminds me a little of grade school – picking on people who are sensitive. We definitely have a dominant faith in the United States, and it´s not Jesus. It´s radical individualism that defines the terrain of acceptable morality, and it does this so successfully that people don´t realize how much it´s accepted as truth. "Not giving a fuck" is like a religion in this country. South Park has a rebellious stance but what they and a lot of mass culture defends and glorifies is "not giving a fuck", which seems to me like the personal version of hyper-individualistic capitalism, and it´s fairly unique to our time and place in history. A lot of good societies have had very different morals than that. That´s not to say Prii don´t look really goofy, especially a bunch of them in a row, but all cars look stupid in bulk.

KB: In the City of Angels you had the Expatriots Collective. Can you tell me a little more about how that came to be?

EG: I had the sense that my country had lost its mind. That combined with going to tons of shows at rock clubs as well as singer songwriter shows and I was getting more attitude than stories out of the performances. So I wanted to make a show where musicians, whether they played heavy music or gentle stuff, could all tell stories to each other, with their songs as the grease on that wheel. It was fun, but it wasn´t a huge success. Got me out of the apartment anyway.



KB: What's the deal with your rock opera?

EG: "The Rise and Fall of CAP" is a really so frightening to me, I couldn´t handle it, for a while anyway. I will do it at some point, in some form. I haven´t figured out how to negotiate irony. There´s that problem that there´s no such thing as an anti-war movie, without humor – even if the message of the film is ´war is hell´, if you try to make something powerful and beautiful, the work glorifies the thing it´s trying to despise, because usually the aesthetics are more powerf - American Chronicle


"Songs From A Toxic Apartment - 5 Baby Sues - Top Pick"

This album took a few spins to sink in, mainly because--while the music is basically progressive pop--it isn't the kind of obvious easily digested dribble that usually passes for pop. But be aware that if you take the time to get to know this man's music, you will be rewarded. Los Angeles' Ethan Gold was raised in San Francisco...and there's a bizarre story in his personal life. When he was young his mother was killed in the helicopter crash that killed Bill Graham. Talk about a difficult ordeal to get through at such a young age--not only the death of your mother but a high profile death at that. This album contains plenty of amazing moments...but they are, perhaps, even more amazing when you consider the fact that Gold recorded the entire album by himself. And yet these never sound like solo recordings in the least. Although the similarities are only slight, the only other artist we can think of to compare this music to is John Vanderslice...and we only make that comparison because Vanderslice also creates complex pop music that is sometimes difficult to digest. In addition to cool classy underground pop, this album features some stunning artwork on the triple foldout cardboard sleeve and it includes what is--without a doubt--the longest lyric sheet insert we have ever seen (the damn thing folds out to a length of about four feet!). Excellent personalized pop that stands up to dozens upon dozens of spins. Smart creative cuts include "Why Don't You Sleep?", "Are We Recording?", and "To Isis Sleeping." TOP PICK.
[5 Baby Sues] - BabySue


"Songs From A Toxic Apartment - 4 Stars"

Straight out of San Francisco California, Ethan Gold has a lot to offer the music industry. Does the name sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve heard his old band, The Gold Brothers, which was formed with his brother Ari. Shortly after however, Gold decided to branch out on his own, as a young solo artist, songwriter, and a composer. His genre is best classified as folk rock, yet with a melodramatic twist.

Released in January 2011, Songs From A Toxic Apartment is a mesmerizing album. One of Gold’s biggest influences is Brian Eno, which is made apparent just by listening to this album. The dramatic lull of his singing fits perfectly with the music he plays. Each song ties together like a story, yet with a dark side to it. While this music may be relaxing, it is also the type of music that you want to listen carefully, to be sure to pick up all of the beautifully written lyrics.

Many songs on this album, such as “Why Don’t You Sleep,” are made with quiet guitar strumming and basic keyboard chords. The climaxes in some of these songs are really quite amazing, as the music picks up and everything fits perfectly together. Gold Songs From A Toxic Apartment certainly is a success.

While many of the tracks are soothing and calm, there are also a few with an upbeat rhythm. “Poison” is a great example; it has many different beats involved, which makes it very interesting. This song will certainly get stuck in your head, but you won’t mind because it’s really that good.

“Nonstop” adds an interesting techno beat to the album. Just when you’ll think you have the rhythm down, it switches to something new. Gold uses repetition in his lyrics, which creates an interesting vibe to this song. “Come On Beat It Down” also has as interesting vibe to it. While many of the other songs have a folk feel to it, this is song is more on the dark side- and it could easily be a track played in a movie to exemplify the passage of time.

“I.C.U” is another fantastic track on this album. The simple keyboard and guitar chords in this song are what make it successful. On top of that, Gold’s voice has an almost bored tone to it, which fits the simple chords- making it one of the most relaxing songs on the album. While on the subject of relaxing songs, “On Edge” falls into the category as well. The mood of this song is calming, and it sounds as if the song is being played from a distance. Many of the vocals are held out, making them sound like echoes. There are other things in this song besides instruments and singing, however. There are bird-like sounds, owls hooting, thunder and rain. So while this song may sound simple, the lyrics are insinuating that there is a lot more to it.

It is safe to say that this album is a success. Some songs are dull, some are upbeat, but they all mix together to form a good variety of songs. Ethan Gold definitely succeeded in creating this album.
– Megan Bellucci - REVOLT - The Loudest Music Magazine on the Interet


"Album Reviews - Ethan Gold: Songs From A Toxic Apartment"

Ethan Gold moved to Los Angeles in the early part of the decade, while helping record and produce some notable works (Elvis Perkins 2007 debut Ash Wednesday being the most well received) he began work on an epic rock opera. What began as an attempt to “break apart the worst of the male psyche and remake it” ended up as a 75 song monster. As the building he lived in fell into a state of dis-repair (think asbestos crumbling from the ceiling, gas leaks, bed bugs and pigeons living indoors-uninvited). Upon the discovery of some toxic mold underneath his amp, the metaphor of a toxic apartment was realized.

The album opens with Ethan (presumably) coming home from a long night’s journey into day as the insomnia that grips him influences his journey. With subtle guitar playing and some lovely string arrangements we segue directly into Why Don’t You Sleep? A hopeful rock ballad that is both uplifting in its optimism and mournful in its cries for help. Sleep eludes and needs arise in the hours of the early morning; you know you’ve been there, talking yourself to sleep so that tomorrow sucks a little less.

A stark, stale room holds a tale of want, lust and beauty in Royal Flush where the game can be played as often as the dirty air and slime of the world are absorbed and filtered into The Game. You know the game, we all play it to some degree, but this haunting, melodic track makes it feel dirtier than normal. With a vibe reminiscent of Garbage or Modest Mouse, this track is solidly written with stark instrumentation that provides a great sonic back drop.

With the help of the ambient noise of Los Angeles we transition smoothly into Are We Recording? The line “Freezing my dreams for the world” stood out to me. As a theatre artist I often remind actors that the nature of theatre is transitory, by that I mean each performance is different and once the run is completed we’ll never see this show again. Other art forms (painting, photography, sculpting, etc) all create lasting, permanent work. Music bridges that distance in a strange with gigs being a once in lifetime experience but albums being a lasting work. This song is my favorite on the album because of its lyrical playfulness and groovy funk. This track along with Poison has a dance hall quality to it and both are sure to be hard rocking live.

With a bit of Jethro Tull flowing through his musical veins, we are introduced to the next track, They Turned Away with some dulcet acoustic guitar work and one helluva nice flute breakdown (hence the Ian Anderson ref). With a sea shanty-ish rhythm and some interesting instrumentation this is a rollicking tune that could be a barroom sing-a-long or a concert head banger, depending on what direction Gold were to take it.

Gold (click to see his website) wrote, sang and performed all of the tracks on this his deluxe debut album. If Ethan had the same resources as, say, Neil Diamond, we would see a monster tour with multiple musicians flushing out the live sound of this delicate, subtle and moving album. With no current touring plans as of this writing, do yourself a favor and support an up-and-coming, local artist. Well…local if you’re from LA, that is.

- Jamie Sweet - The Music Swamp


"Ethan Gold - Songs From A Toxic Apartment on Aidabet.com"

You know those songs that start small and slow, building into something astounding? Ethan Gold does, and he plays the game exceedingly well. The title of the album comes from where the songs were recorded--asbestos, mold and the like surrounded him as he put this together. I don't know if that atmosphere flavored the songs here, but it certainly made for a colorful title.

And the title does describe the mood of these songs, something of a "waiting for the next personal apocalypse" feeling. Not so much downbeat as defiant in the face of imminent failure, a sort of pop-inflected blues.

Gold uses all of the current laptop tools to create the music, but with the exception of the beats he has created an organic feel for his sound. Piano (or keyboard, or whatever) is the driving force, but the punchy electronic beats keep these pieces from getting depressing.

Rather, the overall effect is cathartic. Life is bad, and sometimes you can't avoid the shit that seems to be eternally falling from the sky. But if you can survive the worst, then maybe you can start building again. And somewhere in there is the kernel of an idea as to why we persevere. - Aiding and Abetting - aidabet.com


"ETHAN GOLD - Songs From A Toxic Apartment - 6 Stars!"

The artwork for this record, much like the music, is an eclectic, unique, strange & awesome journey into the darker sides of life.

Ethan Gold is an amazing songwriter who mixes the trippy pieces of The Beatles music with the darker sides of Pink Floyd, Beck, Sonic Youth & even a little Velvet Underground at times.

Musically this cd is driven by the strange reality that Ethan views as life, the art ties in because the front cover is supposed to be a front door & you can see what appears to possibly be a naked man through the peep hole, then when you open the gatefold cd case you see dirty lace, old pictures & if you look at the inside of every panel where the extra booklet & cd are encased you will notice that there's printed pics & old lace inside the inner sleeves as well.

The cd booklet has unique pics for each song & everything really ties in super perfect from the artwork to the individual tracks...as a complete body of work this might be the most interesting record I've listened to in the past 5 years...it's not a full on hard rock record, this is a moody, at times mellow, at times devious, yet all together comfortable to listen to record from start to finish. - Rock N Roll Experience


"CD Review: Ethan Gold Songs from a Toxic Apartment By Jeremy Lukens"

Ethan Gold’s debut, Songs from a Toxic Apartment, began as a 75-song epic recorded in a dilapidated apartment that was literally toxic. Though he vacated the unit when it was condemned by the health department, all of the grime, restlessness and despair remained intact in the 12 songs that made the final cut.

Songs from a Toxic Apartment is an eclectic mix of musical styles, themes and emotions that combine to form a jumbled narrative contrived while hallucinating from exposure to mold and asbestos. Gold sings of the loneliness and depression of being an outsider. “I want to slurk where I won’t be spurned,” he sings over the 80’s-style dance music of “Nonstop.”

Gold paints a portrait of a man who suffers from self-doubt brought upon by unrequited love. “Will you remember if I kiss your face?” he asks on “Are We Recording?” On “Tonight,” Gold shows the self-handicapping of a diffident lover. “It’s okay if you don’t want to,” he concedes, “it’s getting late, anyway.”

Gold’s tales of isolation and angst are woven into acoustic ballads, industrial rock, punk and dance music, sometimes within the same song. The weakest aspect of the album is Gold’s voice. Gold is not blessed with a lot of vocal range, though his scratchy monotone usually fits the melody.

Songs from a Toxic Apartment combines natural and electronic sounds, string sections and synthesizers. Even the pop songs, however, still have that aura of grime. In “They Turned Away,” Gold confesses “I showed you the spark of evil in me so you’d blow it out.” Though there are no hints of evil in the album, it is clear that Gold’s experiences, including recording in that toxic apartment, have left him haunted. That may be bad for Gold’s health, but it’s good for his music. - Glide Magazine


"Ethan Gold Songs From a Toxic Apartment [Self-Released; 2011] 7.2 "

The opening sequence to Ethan Gold's Songs From a Toxic Apartment is almost too fitting: a once-empty hallway punctured by a series of sharp footsteps, the rattling of house keys, and the opening and shutting of a creaky door. By the time the song, "Why Don't You Sleep?", gets to its soaring chorus, it paints a perfect picture of the insomnia and desire for escape that color the album. While immersed in recording demos for another project, Ethan Gold's physical health quickly deteriorated. He later learned his residence had been besieged by a variety of poisons before the health department considered the apartment unlivable. The titular "toxic apartment" was frighteningly literal, forcing Gold to move his recording setup-- and the rest of his belongings.

As the title suggests, the album was recorded in full in his apartment (though thankfully not in the one littered with flakes of asbestos). You wouldn't know it from listening, however. Gold's production prowess first came to the fore on Elvis Perkins' debut album, Ash Wednesday-- a close companion of this record in terms of emotional and existential distress. So Songs is not so much lo-fi as it is low-budget. Nothing on the record bears the mild sterility of a professional studio, while snatches of white noise and sounds from outside of Gold's living room window are subtly filtered into the songs.

Naturally, most of the tracks that make up Songs From a Toxic Apartment deal with toxicity in the emotional sense. On "Poison", Gold's emotions are sent into a whirlwind as he asks for salvation and tries to stay motivated as the devil stares him down and his relationships are damaged by sex. The album has a childlike emotional purity to it, but that's not to say that it's immature or naïve. Instead, it's rooted in the fact that children don't obscure their hurt by anger or bravado or even mock diffidence, as adults often do. Occasionally, the songs are bogged down by grating lyrics or unnecessary bridges (such as on the breakdown in "I.C.U. (Toxic)"), but for the most part, the emotions on Songs From a Toxic Apartment are delivered with an unfiltered, glaring legibility.

"Are We Recording?" finds Gold tangled up in nerves and hunched over his mixing board, facing his self-doubt with fears like, "We don't know what we're doing yet." The fears exists even when he thinks he locates his artistic muse: He is quietly huddled in a corner, softly strumming a guitar during "That (Reprise)", singing, "This is what I am," before letting out a long sigh. During "Royal Flush", he compares love to an intense game of poker, breathing in stale air and staring across the table at someone inscrutably surveying the five cards in their hand. Songs From a Toxic Apartment is a one-act play whose scenes are cast by one bright spotlight and minimal set changes.

On closer "To Isis Sleeping", Gold tests his use of dynamics by introducing countermelodies and pulling them away after a moment's notice right up until the dramatic finish, as the instruments fade out into the sprinkling drops of water falling into the shower floor and running down the drain. And just like that, the curtain closes on the toxic apartment, and you're left with your own four walls staring you down.

— Martin Douglas, February 23, 2011 - Pitchfork


"'Politics in My Songs Are Personal' - An Interview with Ethan Gold"

Ethan Gold is a brilliant singer-songwriter, producer and musician. He is in the New York City based band the Honey Brothers and is also in a band with his twin brother Ari called the Gold Brothers. And he is the producing mastermind behind Elvis Perkins' album "Ash Wednesday."

Growing up, Ethan's mother dated the famous music promoter Bill Graham (the man behind the Filmore West and East) and was tragically killed along side of Graham when his helicopter crashed in 1991. Ethan was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to sit and chat about his music, his childhood and the state of music today. There was so much to talk about and hopefully this is just the first of many chats with Ethan.

OhmyNews: I read your bio and read how you came to produce "Ash Wednesday" and it really seems as if you have had an interesting upbringing filled with lots of colorful people. With Elvis and "Ash Wednesday" and from every interview that I read with him and just by listening to the album it seems as if the tragic deaths of his parents and his parents influence and upbringing seem to be central themes in his music. With your own music how much of your upbringing and your mother's influence do bring to your own songwriting process? Or is your songwriting process influenced by other things or is it a little bit of both?

Ethan Gold: As with anyone, my upbringing affects my work just as it affects my personality. I don't think anyone generates their art in a vacuum. People react with or against their own experience. Sometimes the press or popular myth likes to pretend that an artist was born fully formed out of the belly of the land, but nothing comes from nothing. As to my mother's influence, I don't discount the possibility that she is with me in some way even now. I write a lot of songs in my sleep. Maybe that is my way of co-writing with the spirit realm

Your mother dated Bill Graham and you write about when you were a kid seeing Ronnie James Dio era Black Sabbath, Peter Frampton and Cheap Trick etc. And as dorky as this sounds when I was twelve I looked at Pete Townshend and I knew I wanted to be doing what he was doing when I was a grown up! And sorry this is such a cliched question, but when you were a kid did you ever look at any of those guys and think to yourself that is what I wanna be doing when I grow up!?

Of course I did, though I didn't allow myself to entertain the notion until quite late. I didn't have music lessons so I always felt behind the kids who knew how to sing and play piano and dance. I was out playing tackle football in the street or hiding somewhere. My music at that point was banging on a piano when nobody was around. I suppose that freed me up to write music long before anyone noticed that I seemed to be drawn to music. Maybe seeing those rockers early planted a seed, but the first concert I ever went to of my own accord was Depeche Mode, and the whole time I was thinking I should be on stage, not in the audience.

I had an elaborate fantasy that one of them would be sick and they'd need someone to play keyboards, and I'd go on stage and do it. I think that happened to a Who fan once when Keith Moon was too drunk to play, Pete Townsend asked if there were any drummers in the audience and this kid was invited up and he nailed it. In my case, the fantasy involved sucking in my cheeks, looking morose, and playing keyboard parts that were probably prerecorded.

Another question about your songwriting process, I'm assuming now your based out of New York City and you wrote about living in this dark apartment in LA that was full of mold and you were in a very dark place and were writing this very dark rock opera. Being in New York do you notice a difference in your mood and in your songwriting process?? Also do you notice a difference between the New York and LA music scenes?

I actually mostly still live in LA. I consider myself an Earth resident. I'm not in the toxic apartment anymore, but I am still in a very cheap apartment, but it's clean. I'm finishing a record about the toxic apartment now. I go back and forth to New York. I play with a band the Honey Brothers there. I find LA to be an easier place to write, mostly because it's a city that gives nothing if you don't ask, where as New York gives and gives and takes whether you are asking or not. LA ignores you. So in LA I can hole up, and there's more space to receive energy.

I love New York, I find it exhilarating and beautiful and endlessly mysterious and strangely comforting, like a human forest. But I write a whole lot more in LA. The songs just appear, like breathing. As to the scenes, LA has a lot more cheesy clubs than New York, but also a few more good clubs. It's a big megalopolis, the capital of the third world, if you know how to find its charms, which aren't the ones you see on celluloid. But in both places the cool kids can be just as annoying as the cheesy kids. A lot of very attractive hipste - Oh My News International


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Ethan Gold wrote a two-page story at age four called "The Dreammaker" about a tiny miner who chiseled into people's heads at night and placed dreams and nightmares inside. As a self-taught singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Ethan has been doing with music what his little miner did ever since, making cathartic, deeply affecting songs written while dreaming or in the altered state of insomnia.

Ethan's debut album was created while living in a corroding flat in Los Angeles and composing film scores (Helicopter; Adventures of Power), playing in other bands (Honey Brothers; Gold Brothers), producing and arranging albums for other artists (Elvis Perkins' acclaimed Ash Wednesday), and writing a sprawling rock opera. Escaping the toxic building, Ethan chose 12 songs from his rock opera demos to color and shape into something new.

On an $800 recording rig wired next to the hot plate in his mini-kitchen, Ethan sang, performed all instruments, engineered, and mixed the record, lovingly sculpting into it the urban sonic tableau of crows, helicopters, and storms he recorded from his window. A journey through quiet terror, yearning, and redemption, this is Ethan's debut album: SONGS FROM A TOXIC APARTMENT.

"As a complete body of work this might be the most interesting record I've listened to in the past 5 years"
- Rock N Roll Experience

Ethan is finishing his follow-up album for release in 2014.

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