"About four years ago, I started uploading covers to Soundcloud as 'Anon' (anonymous). I was incredibly insecure about my voice and guitar playing," rum.gold tells us. Now, he is ready to share his talents with the world in the form of two songs, "Cashmere Cage" and "Where There's Smoke," his official debut singles under this name.
The singer-songwriter's journey has taken him from the DMV to Boston for music school and eventually to New York, although the global reach of the internet plays its part in his music too. rum.gold's producer James Chatburn lives in Berlin and, having connected via SoundCloud, they have still never met in person. They are perfect partners on the two songs, though, as rum.gold's memorable falsetto vocals soar over richly textured production and crisp drums.
Putting his own atmospheric spin on R&B and experimental pop music, rum.gold's introduction is a memorable one, and has us excited for what's next. Listen to "Cashmere Cage" and "Where There's Smoke" and read an interview with the artist below.
What can you share with people about who you are, where you’re based, and your background in music?
I'm a 23 year-old singer-songwriter originally from the DMV (D.C, Maryland & Virginia), living in Brooklyn, NY by way of Boston, MA. I grew up playing trumpet and originally chose to go to college for jazz trumpet performance, but was crushed by the weight of capitalism and felt like I had to choose a more "responsible" field of study: music business. Up until recently, while living in NYC, I’ve worked odd jobs throughout the day, and written songs in my bedroom in the night. Most people I know have never heard me play a single instrument or sing, and have no clue what it is I do exactly. So this release is both my debut as an artist, and a re-introduction to people who have “known” me for years.
How did your formal education at music school shape the music you make today?
I honestly spent majority of my time at music school unlearning things in order to get where I am today, or maybe just preserving things a formal education could possibly destroy. In an academic setting there is a right way and a wrong way. There is a formula for creating music, and you’re very rarely (if ever) reminded that it’s all about producing emotions or telling stories. How does it make you feel? Obviously fundamentals are key and you need to know the language, but beyond that there’s an entire world of emotions within us that only we have access to, which tends to get lost in the curriculum. It was actually the camaraderie among all the other creatives at the school that made those years so special to me. My friends and peers are the ones that kept my creative juices flowing. They taught me most of what I now bring to the table. The school just brought us all together.
When did you move to NYC? What inspired that change?
I moved to NYC on New Years Eve, 2016. After graduating I stayed in Boston because I had deep feelings for this boy I met. I ended up being what felt like heartbroken and made the decision to officially move on December 28. I found an apartment on December 29, and on December 30 I moved to Brooklyn. The night I arrived I slept in my UHaul truck and then moved into my place on New Year's Day. Once everything was inside, I started writing out everything that was going through my head. Leaving Boston really helped me analyze that entire chapter of my life.
These songs are your first official singles under the rum.gold name. What can you tell us about the journey to feeling ready to release this music?
About four years ago, I started uploading covers to Soundcloud as "Anon" (anonymous). I was incredibly insecure about my voice and guitar playing because of my immense self-doubt and also because I'm so hard on myself. So, instead of performing for peers at school, I'd upload to SoundCloud and have strangers listen and critique it. They didn't know me, and I didn't know them. That way, I wouldn't take it personally and I knew the critiques would be organic with no biases. That's where I found my voice. The feedback from SoundCloud really helped me build some confidence. I eventually changed my name from Anon to rum•gold, once I felt confident in my artistry, and once I got confirmation that I wasn’t complete shit!
What artists or creatives inspire you?
I could list plenty of artists right now that make me wanna quit music, or “inspire” me. My first few SoundCloud covers were of some of my favs; Moses Sumney, Matt Corby, Lianne La Havas, Will Heard...I could go forever. When I moved to Brooklyn and started writing, I began to look back at all the trumpet players I loved, most of whom were also incredible vocalists. Chet Baker has an album called Chet Baker Sings that I would go back to most nights. I find myself going back to that album very often.
Who produced these two singles? How did you get connected with the producer?
I met my producer James Chatburn via Soundcloud. He's based in Berlin, and we've never actually met in person, but without him I definitely wouldn't be answering these questions right now. I’m also just a huge fan of his music, like HUGE. And his voice is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time. I can fangirl for hours on end about him.
What do these two songs mean to you and what do you want listeners to take from them?
I don’t want listeners to necessarily care about why I wrote these songs. I’ve always kind of felt like the music is best and most meaningful when it’s interpreted. Music’s whole point lies with the listeners. That being said, I hope to have people connect and vibe with it. They’re entitled to take or not take anything they’d like. But I’ll know people are listening once they forget about the writer and my connection to it, and start trying to find their own connection to the music.
"Where There’s Smoke” was not written from my point of view. There I’m trying to put myself in someone else shoes. Someone I’ve never met. “Cashmere Cage” is being stuck in a romantic or platonic relationship that I know is kind of toxic, but I’m scared to or don’t know how to leave…and it’s almost better than nothing at all.
As an artist in 2018 do you feel like the Internet and platforms like Soundcloud or Twitter benefit you or do they get in the way?
Oh that’s a loaded question. On the one hand we now live in a time where we can create an entire music career on our own. Labels are needed less now than ever before. However, because music is so much easier to produce and distribute we’ve now completely oversaturated all of these outlets, which makes it even harder for artists to standout and or make any money. Labels and other organizations can help with pushing your music and providing funding, so don’t get me wrong, never underestimate the power of the machine (music industry) but know that you don’t necessarily need anyone.
What can you tell me about the upcoming yaRn EP?
In short, yaRn is the selfish revolution of a wallflower. It’s my realization that selfishness is essential to love. It’s the beginning of me almost being able to say, “I love myself." The entire yaRn EP will be released in January of 2019. However I will be featured on some other artist's work in the near future so I’m excited to talk more about that soon. Oh, and Happy Cancer Season to my fellow emotional babies out there, our time is now.