Our friends at Wanderlust had the chance to sit down with Gold and talk about everything from Shiva Rea to Courtney Love. Check out the exclusive interview below:
What are your experiences like being a touring musician with your wife and playing out with rockstar yogini Shiva Rea?
My wife Anne-Émilie and I began touring at the end of 2008. You really get to see yourself and your partner when you are in each other’s presence 24 hours a day. It’s been a great way to connect more deeply with each other and with all of the wonderful people we’ve met in our expanded community. The idea of touring sprouted when Shiva invited us to join her in Bali for a yoga teacher training retreat. Since then it’s been like riding the Shakti Express, traveling together a lot! The most unusual experience we’ve had on tour was probably at Wanderlust last year. We played live music while rafting down the Truckee River with Shiva and a hundred yogis. Our boat captain had to jump out midstream to rescue a fallen passenger in the rapids. I almost had to use my guitar as a paddle. It was a thrilling moment!
Our experience playing with Shiva is not about making anything happen. It’s about letting it happen. Shiva is a consummate conductor of prana (life energy). She embodies flow. Anne-Émilie and I both believe that this amazing ability to flow with change is what our entire touring journey has been about.
Tell us more about your kirtan collaborations, we would love to hear about them!
I’ve developed a deep relationship with blues, folk, African American spirituals, and chants from around the world. As a singer/songwriter, what inspires me mostly is combining all of the musical influences that I love, and weaving mantra into some of the songs. The collaboration process usually begins after I have composed some song ideas.
Currently, I’m collaborating with my friend and executive producer Frank Fitzpatrick(producer for Ziggy Marley and Jill Scott; and creator of the Yoga Revolution CD featuring Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Peter Gabriel and more) and my guitarist and producer Matt Pszonak, on my second full length CD. I got to write one of the songs with Lorin Roche, who is a Sanskrit scholar and author of the Radiant Sutras. We hope to release it in the next few months. There is a lot of mojo on this record!
Last year, at Wanderlust, my band, Stoned On Shiva, grew into a 10-piece group when some of my favorite musicians at the festival joined us. Half of the band had never rehearsed the songs, so everything was happening in the spirit of collaboration in the truest sense. All of these friends bring a tremendous amount of love, skill and pleasure to my work. I am always inspired by what we create together.
Shortly after the Wanderlust festival ended, Prana requested a soundtrack for Shiva Rea’s Wanderlust video. For that project, I worked with my longtime friend and producer Curtis Mathewson (producer for Train). We’ve been writing together for over 25 years and it’s amazing that we can continue to come up with fresh material that we both like. We wrote a song called Can’t Decide that we’ll release later this year. We also created a 20-minute remix of our song, Let Your Heart Be Known, for Shiva’s upcoming yoga DVD. We had never produced such a long remix before and it was challenging to come up with an arrangement that would stand up for 20 minutes. I can’t wait to hear it in the context of the DVD.
Seeing that you perform at different mediums such as festivals, yoga studios, art spaces, and spiritual centers; what do you find to be the best medium?
We love playing for the larger festival crowds, and we also love the intimate setting of a yoga studio. Wherever we play, we set the intention to raise a positive vibration in others and in ourselves. We use music and specifically singing as a form of healing. The option to be transformed through sound vibration, and the sound of your own voice is always there. We offer this to all our audiences big or small.
What is your favorite Wanderlust memory?
This is simple. Anne-Émilie and I conceived our first child at Wanderlust!
Very nice! Is he/she part of our world yet?
Our boy is due in April. We are still ruminating over names.
That’s great, good luck Steve! Do you have any new releases or songs you would like to tell us about?
I released a new single, Om Shreem Shriyei, in December. It’s my rendition of two Sanskrit mantras for meeting a soulmate. Anne-Émilie and I met in 2003 while we were chanting these mantras at a workshop. Watch what you ask for! This track is a very different musical expression than I am used to creating. I composed it on a keyboard instead of guitar, and this influenced the sound a lot. Ben Leinbach’s (producer for Jai Uttal) production is very present in this recording. Josh Brill’s guitar work is stunning, and Anne-Émilie sounds like an angel.
Tell us something that we, and your fans may not know about you!
I was Kurt Cobain’s gardener.
That’s incredible, can you tell us more about that?
I moved to Seattle in the ‘93, and my first job was working at Kurt and Courtney’s house as their gardener. It was strange working environment. Intense. Kurt loved orchids and we kept them in the atrium. Kurt died in the atrium in the garden and it was very sad time. The park next door was jammed with fans everyday. Courtney had us sprinkle some of Curt’s ashes at the base of his favorite tree in the yard. They tore down the atrium after that. I stayed on for one more year until all the wheels fell off the cart. I also wrote some heavy songs back then. But I never recorded them. Instead I moved on to plant hundreds of gardens in Seattle.
Absolutely amazing Steve. I would love to hear those songs, it’s a shame they aren’t recorded. The things you must have seen. Thank you for this!
Here is “Wanderlust Blues” from Steve Gold at Wanderlust 2010