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Interview: GoldFord on ‘Walk With Me’ and new music

GoldFord
Credit: GoldFord

Singer-songwriter GoldFord has been making a name for himself over the past few years, most notably as the writer of Andy Grammer’s hit ‘Give Love’ and for his work with artists such as Kygo and X Ambassadors

But it was his song ‘Walk With Me’ that catapulted him into the spotlight. Written by GoldFord and AG, the anthemic track was one of the most Shazamed songs for six weeks straight in 2020 and has also appeared on the soundtrack to the hit TV series Grey’s Anatomy.

I recently spoke to GoldFord about the success of the song, his collaboration with DJ Sam Feldt on Use Your Love, how he approaches his songwriting and plans for new music.

How would you describe your music?

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I think it’s soul music with a little pop twinge.

Your newest song here in the UK is Walk With Me – can you tell us a bit more about that?

Yeah, I wrote Walk With Me just as the world was starting to shut down. It was one of those times when everyone was really freaked out – we had to wipe down our groceries, we couldn’t leave the house, Black Lives Matter protests were going on, riots were happening down the street from my house. It was just a pretty surreal moment. And everybody from my friends to my family, they were all freaking out.

I went to this session with a friend of mine and we were all just talking about how crazy it was and what we needed to hear in that moment. That is pretty much the answer – what would we tell ourselves in that moment? It wasn’t that personal but it was just talking about it and then it just popped out. It was one of those things where the song just writes itself pretty quickly.

Is that fairly typical of your writing for things to come to quite quickly? Or is it usually more of a slower process?

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For me the most powerful ones usually come out pretty quickly. You know, I’ve learned if you’re trying so hard it’s not coming necessarily from the deepest place, so I usually take a break and try not to use the head so much, you know what I mean? And that’s a hard thing to be able to do, but I keep showing up and taking swings and sometimes the really special ones, they just kind of pop up.

Do you feel your approach to your songwriting has changed at all over the years, or has it always been fairly consistent?

I would view it as… It’s funny, have you ever read the book The Alchemist?

No I haven’t, it’s been on my list for ages though…

It was funny when I read that, because I just read it recently, and it felt a lot like my relationship with songwriting. I didn’t really know that I could write music or do music or play music until I was a little bit later on in life, and it just happened I started writing songs. And then some cool stuff happened and I was like, “oh great, look at me!” and then my relationship with it became… I felt like I was chasing it more than just letting it come. So then I had to write a whole bunch of songs for my relationship to come back to it where I was like, “hey, if you just show up with the right intentions and it’s coming from an honest place it’ll keep happening in the right way”. But along the way you wanna write these great songs that do great big things and your relationship with it becomes more about the external than the internal, if that makes any sense. So it started that way, it kind of got lost a little bit. I would say this stuff that I’ve been doing the last couple of years has really been more consistent with just sitting still and paying attention.

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Do you find you ever get writer’s block? And if so how do you deal with that?

Definitely get writer’s block. My way to deal with that is take a walk, go outside, be outside. This might sound weird but I shower [laughs]. Being in water, that always helps me. My New Age friend says it’s because I’m a Pisces [laughs]. But that’s pretty much what always helps me. Or like a hot pen exercise where you just let your pen go for two minutes and you just write down stream of consciousness thoughts – I set the timer and whatever I write down I tear it up and throw it away and then go back to whatever I was doing.

Going back to ‘Walk With Me’ – obviously the song has been a huge success. Did you know it was going to be that big when you were writing it or has it been a surprise to you?

It was definitely surprising. This has been amazing, to see it do what it’s done. But when I wrote it, because it just came out really quickly in like 30, 40 minutes, I didn’t have to try that hard for it. It just felt like it was like breathing. So those songs to me that tend to come out that way, I know they just feel like they really connect with me, and those are the ones that when that happens stuff usually connects with other people. So I was like, “this one I think people are gonna like”, but I had no idea it was going to connect that much. Like three days, 72 hours after I wrote the song, I sent it to a friend for a commercial and they were like, “wow, this is perfect for this Covid national commercial about helping people in the community and this is the anthem that they wanna hear”. It was just immediate. So that was really good – some confirmation.

I also wanted to ask you about your latest song ‘Roots’. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

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So I wrote that with the same friend, Adrian or AG, that I wrote Walk With Me with. And that song’s really just about… I grew up in St Louis, Missouri, which is the Midwest, and I moved around a lot. I was in Kansas and I was in Austin, Texas and I was in Chicago and I was in Nashville. I don’t know if it was where I was in life or where I was geographically, but I was never quite ready or there in a place that felt like what home felt like. So since I’ve been out in Los Angeles I’ve really felt like this is the place for me and that’s kind of where this song came from.

You’ve had both songs featured on Grey’s Anatomy as well – how did that come about?

The music supervisor for Grey’s Anatomy, Casey Truman, I met years ago, and I always wanted songs to be in Grey’s Anatomy. I sent her song after song after song and it just never was the right fit, and Adrian, AG who I made the record with, also has had a lot of songs in Grey’s Anatomy. And this one just happened to connect. And the cool thing is, there’s two versions of Walk With Me. The first one that we did, and then Adrian was like “Why don’t we do a beautiful strings, you’re hearing it and I think that could be really good for Grey’s Anatomy”. And we did that and then like two weeks later – Grey’s Anatomy. That was really awesome.

How have you found adapting to making music and performing during the pandemic?

It’s been a very interesting process. So the performing, I’ve been just writing for other people for a while, so I think the pandemic really forced me to sit still and not run around in 10 different directions. And it forced me to be by myself for a while. That really allowed me to get pretty clear on what the next thing looked like. So the performing aspect, I’m excited for when we get back to ‘normal’ to be able to get out there. But it’s just been… I almost feel guilty saying this but it’s been a really forced time to just sit still and listen, and deal with what’s actually happening inside and outside. For me that has been an extremely important part of creating. But I miss having sessions and being in person with my friends and making music, but I know we’ll be able to get back there. Zoom is helpful but it’s hardly a substitute for in-person conversations. I would rather be sitting down with you.

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Do you have any particular favourite co-writers? And is there anyone you’d like to write with or write for in future?

I love working with AG, I work with her a lot. There are these guys called The Likeminds that have made some of my favourite records. They’re here in Los Angeles. I would love to collaborate with Labrinth. It’s been great because I’ve been getting over to Europe more and more and been able to collaborate with some really great DJs and there are some of those DJs that have been really great to work with. Last thing – I’m sorry, this is so fragmented, but there’s two guys, Yoshi Green and Jonas Kruper who are in Amsterdam and I love working with them as well. We’ve got some pretty cool stuff coming out with some DJs.

I also wanted to ask you about working with Sam Feldt on Use Your Love which came out last year – what was that experience like?

So that was another one of those experiences from the magic of sitting still in the pandemic. So I wrote that song just before the pandemic started, and then I’m a fan of Sam’s. One day randomly in the middle of the pandemic he followed me on Instagram. He reached out to me, said, “I love your voice, I’d love to work with you, do you have any songs?” And I was like, “I just wrote this song, this could be good for you, it’s called Use Your Love”. I sent it to him and he was like, “I love it, it’ll be the next single”, and just like that he started working on Use Your Love [laughs]. It’s like, one of your favourite DJs reaches out to you on social media and says, “I love what you do, I want to collaborate with you”, it’s pretty coincidental.

You’re working on an EP at the moment – can you give us some idea of what that’s going to be like?

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Yeah, so in 2021 my plan is to release four EPs. Most of it is the music that I’ve made over this quarantine because I’ve just been so inspired, it just keeps coming. The first one is called Dreams of Summertime and it’s kind of an autobiographical EP that’s more on the organic side. Then there’s an EP that’s coming out that’s going to have some organic soul tunes like Walk With Me with a little bit more of a pop edge. The third EP is going back to that first format and then the fourth EP I’m in the middle of finishing right now. So those should start coming out in March.

Is that going to be your focus for the next few months or so?

Yeah, getting this stuff finalised and getting it put together and ready to promote. And then hopefully come over and play it in person sooner rather than later.

I was going to ask when this is over and we can travel again, do you have plans to come over to the UK and tour at all?

Absolutely. It’s the first place. I’m coming over there.

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And finally… what’s the one song you wish you’d written?

Ummm… I would have to say… I mean, so many incredible songs that I grew up listening to that I’m such a fan of. But the one song that kills me every time, I would have to say is Jealous by Labrinth. And how he handles that and the bridge and just everything about that song, I’m just like, “wow”. I wish I had written that song.

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