Album of the Week: Leon Bridges, 'Gold-Diggers Sound'

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Leon Bridges, 'Gold-Digger Sounds'
Leon Bridges, 'Gold-Digger Sounds' (Columbia Records)
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Interview: Leon Bridges with Mac Wilson
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Leon Bridges returns with his third release Gold-Diggers Sound, whose name comes from the East Hollywood studio in which it was recorded. Mac Wilson had the chance to catch up with Bridges in an interview about writing the new record, some of his recent collaborations with fellow Texans Khruangbin, and the Australian electronic group The Avalanches. Check out Mac's full conversation below.

Interview Transcription

Edited for clarity and length.

MAC WILSON: Hey, there, I'm Mac Wilson from The Current and it is my privilege to be joined by Leon Bridges. Hello, Leon.

LEON BRIDGES: 'Sup man?

Leon, the new record is out now. First of all congratulations on the release of the new record Gold-Diggers Sound. It's been in the works for a while, so congratulations on the release. It must be nice just seeing it out in the world at last.

Absolutely, man, it feels good to finally put this out in the world. I'm really proud of this body of work.

One of the points that I'm sure has been brought up to you many times, the name of the album Gold-Diggers Sound refers to the name of the studio where it was released, and one point that I thought was interesting is--over the last year and a half, as we've spent so much time in our homes and we've spent so much time in particular places, sometimes to the point where we feel trapped in a particular place. You chose to celebrate that sort of feeling by commemorating the space where you spent years recording Gold-Diggers Sound. Was that a part of the maybe inadvertent intent in naming the record celebration of that place?

Right, well the experience at Gold-Diggers was so profound for me. I wanted to name the album in its honor. It was almost somewhat of a homecoming in the sense of--the way that I made music there, you know, most of these songs were derived from improvisational jams, and that's reminiscent of how I made music on my first album Coming Home.

One of the songs on the record that really struck me, perhaps inadvertently, again, in this the age of a pandemic, it's a song, "Why Don't You Touch Me". The lyrics to the song seem to be born out of sort of a romantic disconnect. But in this age of COVID-19, where we're trying to avoid folks, it's possible to read that song almost as affection and care, like, "I am actively taking care of you by not touching you." Is that something that you ever would have foreseen being a subtext of that tune?

Not at all, but I see how you can interpret it in that way and it totally speaks to COVID and the pandemic in that way. But yeah, with that tune I thought it was a dope angle to write about love diminishing in a relationship from a man's perspective. Just that crippling feeling of being physically close to someone but emotionally distant.

So I got the opportunity to sit down and listen to the record, and one thing that I also noticed when I went to your website, is that on the purchase page, for the record, the default option is the vinyl record, which I think really suits the album. The way that you've had it sequenced, it's like 15 minutes or so of this sustained mood, then you get up and you take a little bit of a pause and you flip the record over and then you get plunged back into it for another 15 minutes or so. It sets the album up really well to be enjoyed under all circumstances.

Yeah, it's a good journey. The way that we curated the sequence I wanted to place the songs that--you know when you look at the the top of the album, those songs are moreso kind of indie R&B oriented, and then it goes into this more so neo-soul kind of sound. It was all about finding the things that just felt most cohesive together.

Another element that I thought worked really well is as you're going from song to song, you're never quite sure where the state of a relationship might be at. You might be in a emotional disconnect, like you said, in "Why Don't You Touch Me," and then you might be in a really passionate mood to the next record. And I think that balances really well, the idea of ups and downs in any given relationship that we have.

Absolutely, it--Gold-Diggers Sound, it encompasses the multifaceted aspects of life. There's moments of introspection, there's some light hearted moments and some sensual moments on there. I feel like it all ties in together well.

Leon, I know that you're a very, very busy man, you've been working on lots of different projects over time. And here at The Current last winter, I had the opportunity to chat with Robbie from The Avalanches right when their new album came out, and it was before I got the chance to listen to the record, and I was really surprised to hear your voice pop up. It was a pleasant surprise hearing you sing along with the Alan Parsons Project. So how did that--who reached out to who? And did you realize that you were essentially going to be duetting with the Alan Parsons Project when you recorded "Interstellar Love"?

I think honestly, I wasn't aware of that actually. But yeah they reached out to management, and management reached out to me, and I thought it would be a cool moment to just incorporate my vibe within their music. We were in LA at the same time, popped into the studio, and recorded my part. It's funny, because [it's] something I'd never done before, but they basically made me do 1000 takes of one part in the song. But really great guys to work with.

And then another record that you've been involved with that we've been enjoying over time was the collaborative EP that you recorded with Khruangbin, Texas Sun--beautiful, evocative tune. When did you first meet the folks in Khruangbin and how have you been keeping up with them over the last several months?

Yeah, so Khruangbin opened up for me on one of my tours in 2018, and how that collaboration transpired was Laura sent me an instrumental that they had been working on, and right before I got on stage I wrote a couple of lyrics to it, recorded it in GarageBand, and they were digging it. So we carved out some time in Houston to record the EP. One of the dopest collaboration that I've done. It's just all about redefining people's perception of what Texas music is.

Leon, we've talked about the new record, we've talked about the some of the folks that you've collaborated with, and the idea that you have a lot of friends that you work with, but I want to ask you, personally, I know that this is a time of celebration for you, but how are you doing now? How are you holding up? How are you feeling? Even if it's just capturing how you personally feel at this moment in time, take a breath--and how are you doing?

Yeah, I'm definitely in a better space mentally. For a minute I was having these feelings of inadequacy in ways of not being a good enough singer-songwriter or deserving of being in this position. But I'm grateful to have really close friends that helped me get through that. But other than that I'm content. I have an awesome label, an awesome team, a dope body of work. I'm ready to get back on the road and perform these songs live.

Well, Leon, thank you for taking some time out of your day and chatting about the new record and we look forward to seeing you live. Again, congrats on the release of Gold-Diggers Sound, and we'll talk again soon.

Yes indeed.

Thank you, Leon.

Thank you.

External Link

Leon Bridges - official site

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  • Leon Bridges 2021 press photo
    Leon Bridges (Pavielle Garcia)

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