Music on his mind
Award-winning, multi-platinum-selling songwriter, producer and composer Gary Go is a man of many talents. You will have heard many of his hit songs—think the 2009 hit “Wonderful” and more recently the club phenomenon “Cinema” (in collaboration with electro DJ Benny Benassi). He’s worked with Rihanna, Rita Ora and Take That, and recently finished scoring a feature film—a scary cyber horror movie—to be released later this year.
Between finishing his new solo body of work, and working with recording artists Mr.Probz, Laleh and DJ and producer Steve Angello (of global dance phenom Swedish House Mafia), he took time to chat to us about his song-writing process, his favorite music venues in London and more.
What was your first profound music experience?
Getting my first Casiotone keyboard when I was eight, was the catalyst for me starting to write my own songs. The Casio had great sounds and loops…It’s an inspiring little box. I still use it. I remember writing my first songs on the Casio and feeling like I was onto something
Is there such thing as ‘a typical day’ when you’re creating music?
Depending on what I’m working on, my day can look very different. I’ll often choose a spot and hide out for a few weeks writing on my own or with a collaborator. This usually involves guitars, keyboards, computers and coffee. A day working on my own music will start with getting to the piano or picking up a guitar and basically the musical equivalent of fishing…playing different chords and singing different things until I feel like I’ve caught something on the line. Then it’s about shaping the best ideas and moving on instinct.
When I’m collaborating with recording artists, a crucial part of that process is listening to their stories and tuning in to where they are at in their lives. A day in the creative process usually involves a healthy mix of listening, thinking and making (in that or any order).
How do you approach writing a club anthem vs. a ballad?
The club records I’ve worked on have come around in different ways. For some, I have written the songs to existing beats that the producer has sent me, so that gives me quite a solid frame to work within. That definitely helps with ensuring whatever I compose lends itself to working in a club environment.
I recently worked with DJ/Producer Steve Angello and we sat together in the studio, both at keyboards and wrote songs in the same way I would write for myself or with another singer-songwriter and then he would produce the songs afterwards.
As for my ballads, that usually involves me sitting at a piano somewhere and just trying to make sense of the world and everything in my head at that time. Whether writing a club record or a ballad, an authentic and emotive song is hopefully the nucleus.
Can you share some of your favorite spots in London?
I love being in London and definitely have some spots that help me re-connect with the city. Tate Modern and Kew Gardens are two of my staple favorite places in London. Good places to think. The sounds and scents of Portobello Road market always give me a warm, familiar feeling. Brick Lane in East London offers endless inspiration in it’s graffiti, galleries and pop-ups. Trew Era cafe (an active social enterprise founded by Russell Brand) in Hoxton is a new favorite and being so close to Regent’s canal, is on the doorstep of several canal-side gems. Nothing however, makes me feel more at home than a visit to my spectacles dealer in Camden Town.
What are the best places to see and hear music in London?
I’ve always loved The Scala in Kings Cross, because it feels like a classic theatre. I like some of the smaller venues like The Courtyard in Hoxton. I saw Lucy Rose perform there recently and it was really beautiful and intimate. I look forward to visiting the refurbished Hoxton Hall which is one of the oldest and most ornate venues in London.
What are you listening to?
Today I was listening to Death Cab’s latest album Kintsugi, Miguel’s ‘Wild Heart’, Luke Pickett’s ‘Wasted Dreams EP’, Sufjan Stevens ‘Carrie & Lowell’ and the new Maccabees ‘Marks To Prove It’.
Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryGo.