Part of Dec 2011 by

Gold Beach Interview

Gold Beach is a town in Oregon where the Rogue River meets the Pacific Ocean. Gold Beach is also the code name of one of the D-Day landing beaches that Allied forces used to invade German-occupied France on June 6, 1944. Austin has its very own Gold Beach; one that is a long-time musical experiment of Tony Daugherty and Michael Winningham.

I first stumbled upon Gold Beach when they opened for The Wooden Birds at The Mohawk in July 2011. Since then, their debut album Habibti has dominated my iTunes playlists. AdobeAirstream chatted with Winningham as Gold Beach after their show at The Mohawk on December 9th with Seryn and Little Lo.

A2: You and Tony have been creating music together for a long time. What made the two of you decide it was time to record Habibti?

MW: We didn’t ever really decide to make Habibti, we just decided to take the songwriting and recording element into our own hands and see what happens. We wanted to try out a variety of songwriting approaches ourselves using the studio as a songwriting tool. Habibti started forming itself after 25 tracks or so. And working with different musicians and anticipating their styles, we just wanted to see what would happen if we had more control.

A2: How did you approach the instrumentation and arrangements during the recording?

MW: It’s funny, cause so much of the instrumentation was in our heads while we workshopped songs quietly in Tony’s apartment or my house. We just got better at keeping track of melodies. Sometimes we hummed those parts or sang them in voice, other times we would find them on a piano or keyboard and keep track of them before we went into the studio.

A2: How did you approach forming the band and teaching them how to play the songs that you had created?

MW: We did our best to find people that were proficient in multiple instruments because there was a lot of instrumentation that didn’t run consistently through each song. It was important to us that everyone could stop playing an instrument during a song and pick up something else where needed. It became a very organized process of distributing the instrumentation per song.

That said — some songs did evolve a bit for the live show and are not completely true to the recordings.

A2: Considering that Habibti was written over a long stretch of time, did you always have a particular “sound” in mind when you were writing the songs? Or after demoing 25+ songs did you just pick the ones that worked best together?

MW: We picked the ones that worked best together. However, toward the end the “sound” was coming together naturally. We started speaking studio language better and we started to have a better understanding of what was emerging. We wanted something lush and restrained with songs that move inside their arrangements.

A2: What types of subjects do you feel most comfortable writing about?

MW: I like for lyrics to enhance the music. The music always comes first for me. I don’t think there are any particular subjects that I continue to come back to. I like the freedom to talk about multiple subjects in one song, even if they are just related in tone or imagery and not necessarily in narrative.

A2: How do you prefer to classify Gold Beach?

MW: Neo-soul. I don’t know…

A2:  Well, hearing Gold Beach perform live, I get a kind of 1970s rock vibe; but then there is more of a folk vibe from the recorded versions of the songs.

MW: Its true, there is a desire to entertain live. I think its funny seeing some acts whose live show is so different from their CDs. It also concerning live, because you don’t want to lose subtlety completely. We’ve started to find a happy medium recently, though I still tend to like the songs at a softer volume.

A2: I suspect that you have to be pretty picky about which venues you play. With a bad sound mix or PA, your sound might get pretty jumbled.

MW: At the end of the day you are at the mercy of the club and the sound person. You try to play the right venues, then beyond that all you can do is immerse yourself in the actual performance and your physical communication with the audience. It’s too easy to get caught up in sound problems. A good performance can still communicate well on its own.

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