Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
I’ve never seen Goss in the flesh – not many have. The mysterious Danish singer, producer and instrumentalist prefers to hide under the guise of minimalist colourful animation, of various body parts, objects and, pending confirmation, a life size version of the man himself. Preferring to let his music do the talking, he maintains this mystery with a style that is as soulful as it is electronic, and his vocals reach high points even the finest sopranos would be proud of. Penning heartfelt love songs is his strong suit, and his position in the exciting Danish electro-pop was reaffirmed by recent EP Healthcare, an exhibition in perfectly crafted songs about love and identity. The manner in which he rides the rhythms are as refreshing as they are innovative, singling him out as an exciting music maker.
When we get acquainted at the recent Eurosonic Festival in Groningen, Holland, he arrives in a hurry but appears calm, clutching onto a book as he fights the Dutch cold. We soon lose track of time as we indulge in conversation, before a phone call puts a halt on it – he is late for another interview – before re-joining the chat like it never stopped. But, having worked with some of Denmark's biggest names in his short career, and contributed to MØ's new album, GOSS is striking out on his own with precision.
How would you describe your musical style?
I would call it electronic soul music, but I feel like some of my songs could be found in weird sci-fi movies like The Fifth Element. All progressive artists these days make music that is able to take from so many different genres and make it sound like something new.
Do you think you’re different from those artists?
I don’t know, I would love to be, but I don’t think I’m the one to judge. Its hard to tell when you’re in the music so when someone says to me that I’m different or have a special way of thinking, I don’t know what to say. I don’t have a clear vision of where I want to go but I’m trying to follow intuitive feelings about where my music should go.
What made you want to start making music?
I was 12 when I had my first band, and at that time, I thought it was cool and the girls liked it. There was a band in my local area and I turned up to all of their shows and slowly became friends with them until they asked if I wanted to sing a song. Slowly, I pushed the lead singer onto guitar. I think he was happy about it; he didn’t like the limelight at the time. [laughs]
How did those beginnings morph into Goss?
It’s a long road, through bands and musical friends, a lot of ups, downs, dead ends. I think all musicians have made shit at some point, even the coolest of the cool have made really bad stuff, especially in the beginning. I don’t believe you if you say you haven’t – no one’s perfect. It seems like there a few musicians who’ve been able to pick up a guitar and go from zero to 100, but that’s not the reality. Everyone’s played in a fucking Pink Floyd cover band or even worse at some point.
Have you reached a stage now where you’re happy with the music you make?
I think I’ve been loving it for a few years but at the same time, every time I make music, I have a hard time being satisfied. Like, a song might not be as good as I want it to be. In the moment when I’m making or releasing it, I’m more or less happy with it and sometimes it can be hard because I never pat myself on the back and tell myself I’m doing good…
Do you give yourself a hard time?
Its not that I’m pushing myself down, I’m just not celebrating myself. I’m not 100% a perfectionist but there are areas where I am. Sometimes I’m trying so hard to make a song better that I’m actually making it worse and I need to put it down. I don’t want to overthink it, and 90% of the time, the good music comes intuitively in the beginning, at least for me. Some artists are good at staying in the creative process for months and tweaking until the music gets better, but I have a hard time then going back to it because then I lose feeling. It becomes manufactured.
"I think all musicians have made shit at some point, even the coolest of the cool have made really bad stuff, especially in the beginning. Everyone’s played in a fucking Pink Floyd cover band or even worse at some point."
What musical influences inspired Goss?
I could drop a lot of names, but I don’t think that would be the right thing. To be honest, I want to try being influenced more by music that is less cool, because it’s easy to be influenced by things that are perceived to be cool. It’s all about trying to connect interesting thoughts, and I tend to want to connect things that haven’t been heard together as much. To get away from the common mindset of certain things as cool, like King Krule – even though he is cool – but if you were to combine him with Kanye West, that wouldn’t be cool because you would get something that is trying too hard to be cool. How about combining King Krule with Phil Collins? If I had the right inspiration, I think I could make that cool. I don’t think about that when making music, but its about having a mindset that isn’t scared to experiment with sounds and melodies and stuff that is uncool, if you can pull it into a place that is perceivably cool and acceptable.
Was that the thinking behind your Healthcare EP?
It’s a subconscious thought but something I’d like to be better at, because its so easy to slip into the other one, where everyone agrees that something is cool and then you entertain it. If I listen to a band that is a combination of The XX and A$AP Rocky that might be nice but also, you’re not trying to challenge yourself – everyone is trying to sound like them. Vera helped produce two of the songs on the Healthcare EP, but he has a lot of bad tastes that he makes cool and I look up to him for that. He’s not afraid to merge the cool with the uncool, and I really like that philosophy. It can get you to a space where you sound like nobody else, doing your own shit.
Do you feel that philosophy can be seen in the Danish music scene?
It’s something we’re conscious about, especially within the bands that know each other. We’re a scene that kind of doesn’t want to be a scene, we want to be our own artists.
"How about combining King Krule with Phil Collins? If I had the right inspiration, I think I could make that cool."
What are some of the things you want people to take away from your music?
I haven’t thought about it, but I would like them to think its genuine. A lot of people want to make hits, get on the radio and make millions of dollars, whereas I prefer making songs that people will feel. I know the feeling of listening to music that touches you deeply; I could be sitting on a bus listening to something a friend recommended and then it completely crushes me in a good way. I would love people to have that sensation with my music.
What else are you working on?
I’m just writing a lot of songs and working with a lot of people like Liss, but I haven’t decided if they’re for an EP or album. I have a studio in my basement and mainly been recording and writing alone for two years, and I needed that to be myself, but now I’m completely fed up and need someone else to have fun with. I’m definitely going to release some songs in the spring. I had trouble not writing love songs for [Healthcare], I wanted to write political songs, but I couldn’t, those were the only genuine songs I could write. Love was the only thing I could 100% communicate at the time. I’ve gotten better at it for the new stuff I’m working on. Love is great but its hardcore!
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