A Few Minutes With Goldroom

While in between stops on his largest live tour to date, Goldroom talks to Pollstar about his new single and how the electronic musician is having fun applying production techniques he’s honed over the years to live instrumentation.

Josh Legg, who grew up in Boston and made the move to Los Angeles to study psychology at USC, has been creating music as Goldroom since 2011. After making a name for himself as a DJ/producer and by remixing tunes from artists like Niki & The Dove and Atlas Genius, Goldroom is turning his attention to live music.

In addition to vocals, Goldroom plays guitar and keyboard on his current tour. He’s joined on the road by Nick Sandler on drums, Jamal Knox on bass, and Nikki Segal on keyboards and vocals. Earlier today he posted on Instagram, “I’ve been DJing for a bit now, and I love doing it… but there’s definitely something very special about getting into a bus with your band and playing live music every night.”

In May Goldroom released his third EP, It’s Like You Never Went Away, via a collaboration with Snapchat. He used the app to premiere music videos for each of the four tracks, featuring guest vocals from Segal, George Maple, Kayslee Collins and Chela. Altogether, the videos make up a 17-minute film, which Goldroom calls “very John Hughes-y.”

Nylon praised the EP as “a mix of ethereal vocals and escapist melodies,” adding that it “isn’t your cookie-cutter type of tropic house either.”

Goldroom called up Pollstar last week while he was in rural Maryland, on the way to Washington, D.C. Anticipation was building for the release of his latest single, “Waiting To Ignite” (feat. vocals from Ren Farren), which he co-wrote with Tinasha.  

Photo: Eleanor Stills

Your new single, “Waiting to Ignite,” comes out Oct. 16. Can you talk about working with Tinasha and what the song represents to you? 

This is actually one of the first times I’m getting a chance to talk about it, which is exciting. We actually wrote that song together a couple years ago. We go in the studio together and I played her a bunch of stuff that I thought maybe she’d be a little bit more into. The beat for “Waiting To Ignite” was an instrumental that I had written that I really loved and was really excited about writing something great over but I didn’t think it was something that she would be that excited about but she really like it. She said, “You know, I haven’t ever written on something like this. Let’s give it a go.” And so we started to write and she came up with some really amazing vocal parts that as we were trading back and forth I could tell were going to work super well over the instrumental.

It became pretty apparent as we started to work on some lyrics that we were both sort of [dealing] with some of the same issues. … The song was kind of revealing itself as being about this moment of feeling like things are about to change in our lives and all of the anxiety and emotion that goes along with … all of this stuff on the horizon. So that’s kind of the concept behind “Waiting to Ignite.” We were both at similar points in our careers and it’s really just about all that uncertainty that goes along with that feeling.

Looking back on the past few years, now how do you view the song?  

To be honest, the song still feels very fresh to me. I sort of feel like anybody can probably listen to it and relate to that feeling. I mean, I think anytime anything is sort of coming up in your life it’s a way to feel it. It was interesting sort of revisiting the song and having somebody else sing it because I was thinking about some of those things – does it still feel fresh? And I was very happy to feel like it completely does. And I still am anxious about what is about to come – even with the song. Who knows how people are going to respond to it. … It’s always really important to me to write stuff that maybe anyone can take something from and make their own.

You have a quote about the song where you said you wanted “to explore a less electronic future for Goldroom.” Can you expand on that a bit?

I care a lot about electronic production and I spent years and years and years working with computers and trying to make sounds sound as big and full and crisp and as special as possible. I think we’ve been in a transitionary period for the last decade or so where electronic production has just gotten better and better and created this very maximalist production aesthetic that has blown up into the EDM craze and everything that Skrillex does and stuff like that. For me, I’ve always been interested in how to take those production techniques but apply them to live instrumentation, especially stripped-down live instrumentation. When I sat down to make “Waiting To Ignite,” I was like, “I want to make a 125bpm disco song that has all this modern production on it but the only stuff I’m going to use are drums, piano, live bass and live guitar.” And that’s really the crux of the instrumentation on the song. And so yeah, I’m really proud of it for that reason. It’s not frilled up with a ton of synthesizers or this and that. It’s just piano, bass, guitar and drums.

Sometimes it’s best just to keep things simple.


The single shares its name with your tour that began a few days ago. How’s it going so far?

It’s been really, really fun. This is the first time, I think, that I’ve gone to cities that I’ve never played before and our first show is live. Usually when I go to a new city, the first time I’ll go and DJ at a club and then sort of when it feels like the time is right we’ll come back with a live show. … Syracuse and Buffalo are two cities I’ve never been to before so it was really exciting to get to jump in a van and go to a couple places I’ve never been to before with a band and to have really no expectations of how many people would be there or what the reception would be like. And both of the first two nights have been really amazing.

It’s a trip to me that we can be in Syracuse, N.Y., this tiny little place in upstate New York and have people come out to the show and know the words to the songs and be really excited that we’re there. That’s something that will never get old. 

Are there any other cities that you’re especially looking forward to playing?

For me it’s really hard not to look forward to Boston because that’s my hometown. I’m probably looking forward to that show more than the others. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Toronto. That’s another show I’m excited for.

Photo: Eleanor Stills

You grew up in Boston and then moved to LA for college. Your stage name comes from a bar in LA. How else has Los Angeles influenced your music?

I think pretty drastically. I mean, I suspect that I would be making sort of warm-sounding summer music, regardless of whether or not I’d moved to Los Angeles. Music was always an escapist thing for me I’ve always kind of liked those motifs, so that’s not necessarily surprising. But I’ve definitely fallen in love with Southern California and the entire Southwest U.S. I love going out to the desert and I spend a ton of my time out on the water and in the ocean. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to say. There’s so many things I love about LA. One of my favorite things in the world is to barbecue carne asada on a rooftop and drink some Tecates. … It’s hard for me to pinpoint specifically what about LA has been influencing my sound.

Maybe just the general vibe?

Yeah, I think with Goldroom a lot of the touring I’ve done has been influencing the sound a little bit more. I’ve toured a lot in Central and South America so I think that has changed my influences a lot because obviously cumbia influences and a lot of Latin American rhythms and things of that nature have found their way into my music and that [wouldn’t have] happened unless I had started touring in those places more.

You promoted your new EP – It’s Like You Never Went Away – in May by premiering four videos on Snapchat. What was the reaction to using the app to show off the EP? Did you get any feedback from fans?

Yeah, totally. I mean, I think it’s a mix of confusion and excitement (laughs) because I think a lot of people didn’t know what to expect or knew what Snapchat was. For me, I thought it was such a good opportunity because I was able make a short film and released these four videos in a serialized form. I don’t think that’s ever been done before. That was such an exciting opportunity as an artist that it was something that I was never going to pass up. So that’s what was really exciting for me. I think once people actually got onto the platform and had the chance to actually see the videos live and breathe within Snapchat, people loved it. I still have people hitting me up saying that they’ve discovered the videos on YouTube – now that they don’t live on Snapchat anymore – people will still find the entire short film on YouTube and have such positive things to say about it. It’s had a longer life than I expected it to, actually.

Will “Waiting To Ignite” be included as part of another EP or full-length album? Or is it a stand-alone single?

I think some of that’s always TBD. You know, I actually really love releasing music that way. [Almost] all of the music that I’ve put out previous to this has come out individually as singles before they’ve been bundled into EPs. And so I actually love that because I can put a song out and people can react to it and … I can play it live and [it can] sort of have its own life. And then, if it feels like it fits a larger bundle of work, then it can be put with that, if it is part of a larger statement. And perhaps it might not be. “Till Sunrise” is a good example of a song that I wrote that really felt as if it was a standalone moment and it didn’t necessarily feel like it belonged with a larger body of work. And maybe “Waiting To Ignite” is that way, as well. For the moment there’s no plan to include it with anything else.

Anything else you’d like to tell readers about more upcoming music or your live show?

“Waiting To Ignite” is the tip of a very, very large iceberg of Goldroom stuff that’s ready to be finished and released. So I’m really excited to get to a point where we’re starting to put a bunch of new music out. … We’re playing, I think, three brand new songs on this tour. It’s been really exciting to play this stuff live for people and the reaction has been pretty incredible.  

Photo: Eleanor Stills

Upcoming dates for Goldroom:

Oct. 22 – Montreal, Quebec, Théâtre Fairmount      
Oct. 23 – Toronto, Ontario, The Hoxton       
Oct. 24 – Detroit, Mich., Populux Music Hall
Oct. 26 – Cleveland, Ohio, Beachland Tavern
Oct. 27 – Pittsburgh, Pa., Cattivo      
Oct. 28 – Columbus, Ohio, The Basement     
Oct. 29 – Chicago, Ill., Double Door
Oct. 31 – Nashville, Tenn., Ascend Amphitheater      
Nov. 21 – Mexico City, Mexico, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (Corona Capital Festival)

For more information visit GoldRoom.la, along with Goldroom’s Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram