It ain't easy: An interview with Marlon Rabenreither aka Gold Star
Music — 27.08.18
“I felt sunlight shine right between my eyes, I’ve seen lightning strikes my whole life, I felt the stars outside shining in my veins, I met the big blue light face to face”, sings Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Gold Star. The moniker of Marlon Rabenreither, has been on the verge of excellence ever since his 2015 full-length debut Dark Days, followed by Big Blue in 2017.
Big Blue is a well-crafted and soulful collection of songs oozing with stories and personal accounts delivered in an accurate country-folk manner. In June 2018, Marlon teased the upcoming album Uppers & Downers with two singles “Half the Time” and “Chinatown”. “Chinatown” in particular is the downer of the two songs. Unveiled with the album announcement, this track is a woozy, swirling lament of somebody trapped in the “halls of the underground”.
Teeth Magazine spent a day with Marlon at the beach talking life’s highs and lows, his love of basketball and the upcoming release.
Emilia: What is your first memory of music?
Marlon: I think music has always been a constant presence in my life. I have no clear memory of music being introduced to me, likely because it has always been there.
Where do you find your inspiration most?
Can you please talk me through the recording process? I know this album was recorded at a historic studio in LA and I also heard you used some vintage gear?
The first step for recording these songs was trying out different tempos and arrangement with drummer Nick Murray. We would run the songs a few times while microphones were placed or tape was being rewound. Then we would perform the songs together until we had captured the take we wanted on tape. After that point, we would begin recording bass and keys, overdubbing guitars, if necessary. We definitely used a lot of vintage equipment: strange microphones, old tape delays. All kinds of odd gear, trying to get interesting sounds.
I’ve read that you like basketball? Tell me all about it! What is your favourite team and who’s your favourite player? How do you feel about Lebron James moving to the Lakers?
Yeah, I’m crazy about hoops. I’m a Laker fan, so Kobe Bryant has always been the definitive player of my generation. I honestly don’t know what to make of Lebron coming to LA yet, but it should make for an interesting year, and I’m pleased the Lakers are relevant again.
One of my favourites on the new album is “Half The Time”. Can you dive into the creation of this song?
“Half The Time” was probably the first song that was written for this record, I always thought of it as the keystone for the album. The lyrics were actually written really quickly, the verses kind of just pouring out of me.
What’s your favourite song you have ever written and why?
I don’t think I have a favourite song, honestly. I’d imagine most artists would be inclined to say their favourite piece is the one they are working on now.
I know you lived in London, what are your thoughts about the city? Do you have any favourite places or memories?
I love London; I always enjoy coming here. I really dig south London, Brixton, Peckham, New Cross… But honestly, my favourite bit about the city is my friends here.
When it comes to sitting down and writing a song, where do you tend to start?
I find that songs can start in many different ways, for me, it’s not a linear or repeatable process exactly. A good starting point is examining what you are trying to communicate and why, or even what that feels or sounds like if it’s not something concrete.
Do you find that your creative process is mostly different and outside the box or do you follow any guidelines?
I feel like there are really no rules or guidelines for creating art, I just try to be honest with it.
Is making music for yourself as important as creating something that gets people dancing? Do you need the self-interest to get into the studio?
It seems like the first step is making something true to yourself, and if it is interesting, it grows and becomes important to other people. First, it must be meaningful and exciting to yourself.
What sort of emotion do you attach to your own music?
Music is emotion.
If you could work with anyone either alive or dead, who would it be and why?
They say you should never meet your heroes.
What’s the song you keep playing on the repeat now?
The Beach Boys – “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)”.
What are you currently working on?
Writing, demoing new songs, preparing for the record release, and the tour!
Gold Star’s third album, “Uppers & Downers,” comes out in September. Follow Marlon’s releases through Gold Star’s SoundCloud page.