Back in January, we tipped Gold Baby as one of our acts to watch for 2019, and they haven’t disappointed. Developing a glowing reputation for their impressive live show, releasing a series of well received singles and even finding time to completely rejig their line-up. At the heart of their appeal though remains the songwriting of Siân Alex, guitarist, vocalist and heartbeat of the band.
Recent single, Philadelphia, was the first to be recorded with the current line-up, featuring Siân, alongside drummer Scott and bassist, Sara. It’s not just the line-up that has changed, musically too it’s a fresh next step for Gold Baby. It’s probably the closest they’ve got to their self-styled, “dream-grunge” sound, as they harness ’90s alt-rock and emotive, soaring choruses alongside their flawless production; the vocals in particular are stunning, knowing exactly when to roar and when to shimmer. Discussing the track, Siân has suggest it is, “an exploration of realising you’ve gone too far only when there’s no way back“, set in the context of both a specific night Siân spent lost in Philadelphia and the tale of Mexican fisherman, Jesus Vidana who spent nine months stranded in the Pacific Ocean, before being rescued. The track seems to teeter on the edge of danger, well aware it’s taking bigger risks than it should, “you never notice anything, you never know that it’s too far and too alone“.
With more new material coming fast on the horizon, this feels like the start of an exciting new chapter for Gold Baby. Following the Philadelphia’s release, we talked to Siân and Scott about side-hustles, poetry and why writing music makes them, “feel the most like myself”.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who are Gold Baby?
Siân: we are Siân (guitar and vocals) Scott (drums) and Sara (bass). Scott and I worked on the new single, Philadelphia just the two of us, and Sara has joined the team very recently! We’re based in North London and have been described as neurotic grunge-pop.
FTR: You’re about to release your new single Philadelphia, what can you tell us about recording it?
Siân: We recorded it with Ian Flynn (werkhouse.uk) and his process is really great. We spent a lot of time in pre-production talking about the meaning of the song and we let that drive the recording process and ultimately inform the arrangement as much as possible.
FTR: What’s your song writing process? Do the words or the music come first?
Siân: I’ll usually get an idea or a concept first – a story I want to tell or something I want to capture in a song. Then I’ll usually churn out a lot of shit both in words and on my guitar til something feels like it’s landed, or feels like I’ve managed to scratch the right itch. With Philadelphia, I was thinking about this time when I was 18 teaching guitar at a camp in America, and I got lost alone in the dark in the middle of nowhere without a phone or a torch or anything. I ended up walking into this unsafe situation without realising in time to turn back, and I was really pissed off with myself. I realised that that story was a good vehicle for how I’d been feeling about my mental health at the time – that I wasn’t reading the warning signs that things were going in a bad direction in time to do anything about it – so I played with words and music until I found the song.
FTR: What are you doing differently with recordings now compared to your previous releases?
Siân: We’re trying to not let ourselves be restricted by what the song already sounds like live or in the practise room – play with all the forms it could take and how we can best serve the song, instead of what we think Gold Baby is supposed to sound like.
FTR: What are your aspirations for your music? Do you see music as a viable career?
Scott: I’m just happy making music and playing shows, I don’t really think of it as a career. Very few people get to put out music as their sole job so you’ve gotta mix it up.
Siân: I’d kind of agree.. I think of it as a career but I think the framework has changed for living as a musician, you have to be smart, I’m always thinking about side hustles that support freeing up time to make music.
FTR: Who are your musical influences?
Scott: Prince, Portishead, The National, Sigur Ros, Young Galaxy.
Siân: Fiona Apple, Sufjan Stevens, Car Seat Headrest, Hop Along, Big Thief, Speedy Ortiz, Joni Mitchell. All incredible lyricists – I love words.
FTR: We read your name is lifted from a Sylvia Plath poem, does poetry influence your song writing?
Siân: Definitely. I would like to read more poetry than I do. A lot of songs I wrote started as poems and a lot of songs I write end up working better as poems.
FTR: Do you have any other influences outside of music?
Siân: my boyfriend is a filmmaker and we spend a lot of time talking about films and scriptwriting and that has definitely changed the way I song-write. I think songwriting a lot of the time can be restricted by the assumption that the story you’re telling is your own – I’m trying to find interesting songs much more now in the world around me and in other people – and there’s always a truth in there that I identify with myself in the end anyway. My songs used to me much more literally ‘me and my feelings’. Getting into film has made me much more creative with finding stories in unusual places.
FTR: Do you feel part of a music scene in London? Do you think it’s a good city to make music in?
Siân: There is definitely a lot of great music coming out of the DIY scene in London. I think there are pros and cons to making music here, or maybe living in London in general. I’ve made music in Nottingham and Leeds too – in London, I love that there is never a shortage of great shows to go to, and there are so many exciting acts and musicians here, but it does sometimes feel a little too big for a scene to take hold in the same way as it does in smaller cities.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Siân: I can’t think about questions like that for too long, I drive myself crazy with stuff like that. All I know is that I’m so much happier and feel the most like myself when I’m making music.
FTR: What can people expect from the Gold Baby live show?
Scott: Catchy guitar pop… we like to mess with the arrangement of the older songs so are continually updating the set.
FTR: What’s next for Gold Baby?
Siân: We’ve got a couple of singles that we’re really excited to release in the new year. We’re currently writing lots and making gig plans for 2020, we’re hoping to get out of London a lot more and do a lot of what we love best, playing shows!
Philadelphia is out now. Click HERE for more information on Gold Baby.