Ari Gold is a gay icon. He's been an out musician since there ever was a glimmer of such and despite the pitfalls and issues that come from being out in the music industry, Ari Gold has managed to stay in the public eye releasing albums full of soul and energy that resonate with the community and by his fellow industry musicians alike. His latest electro-pop single "Make My Body Rock" sees Ari Gold take a more aggressive edge in music-making and his "True Blood" inspired video definitely is cause for some serious discussion.
In this EQ interview with Ari Gold, we talk about the video, his evolving sound, his annoyance with the OTHER Ari Gold, his obsession with Wonder Woman and we get into the hot topics surrounding out musicians today – enjoy.
Hello Ari – how are you today sir.
I’m great today! I just moved and my apartment is a wreck and I finally got my phone, cable and internet working so its been a bit crazy.
I love your latest video to "Make My Body Rock". In your own words, explain to viewers what the concept is – it's a pretty gruesome video…
So glad you like it! It is very dark and twisted and yes, gruesome and that’s what I wanted because it introduces my upcoming album, “Between the Spirit & the Flesh”, and I wanted the first single to be about the flesh and take matters of the flesh to the extreme where we are literally eating flesh. There are a lot of layers to the video as well which was really the brainchild of the director Colly Carver. Colly liked the idea of me being this openly gay artist, playing a married wall street executive and exposing the dark side of that world. I think its really interesting if you think about it that way, especially considering what’s happened on wall street and the economy in America and even how all of that is connected to the fantasy of heterosexual marriage. We have been spending so much attention in this country on whether gay people should have the right to marry but what about what goes on in heterosexual marriage and family and the hypocrisy and hidden sexual behaviors and expose how it is not this perfect institution that gay people are threatening to corrupt if given the same rights. We both are also interested in the ways that children are used for the selfish desires of their parents and so the eating the flesh of our own child takes that to the literal extreme. I could go on forever cause I think there are a lot of layers that some people will get and some people won’t, but at the end of the day its a music video and we wanted it to be visually appealing and sexy.
What's the hardest part about playing vampire for the day?
Filming during early morning rush hour on wall street was definitely challenging but being a vampire was pure fun. I got to play out all my "True Blood" fantasies and once I put those fangs in, I didn’t wanna take them out. They awakened something very primal and sexual in me. Since the video I got myself a pair of gold fangs that I like to where out every now and then. I don’t know, maybe I was a vampire in another life.
Is this the new sound you are going for with your new album? I've noticed it's a bit different than your songs that were on "Space Under Sun".
Actually it was the easiest song I’ve written since “Wave Of You” – it just came through me! I’ve always loved electronic elements even in soul and R&B music and I’ve explored funk and house on all my albums. I do think “Make My Body Rock” has a harder more rock edge to it than I’ve done in the past but it came out in a very organic way. The chord progression has some great jazz elements to it which I’m always attracted to. I think people who have liked my more soulful songs will be very happy with some of the songs on the new record though cause I could never lose that. For me, there has to be soul in the music.
Tell me what we can expect from your new record?
Speaking of soul, I have some great guest artists on the new album including Sarah Dash from the original Labelle! She is a legendary soul singer and we did a song that is a kind of self-empowerment song that I think we all need sometimes. TM Stevens who was James Brown’s bass player for many years and now tours in Bootsy Colins plays on the entire record. I also have a song that I do with two NYC transgendered recording artists, Mila Jam and Peppermint. And Adam Joseph who I did the intro with on my last album, "Transport Systems" does a guest spot. Lyrically, the album explores the dark and the light. The title came out of a conversation I had where I was talking about feeling like I was “torn between the spirit and the flesh” and I thought—what a great way to frame an album cause everything can fall into one of those two categories or come somewhere in the middle. Sonically, the album as a whole is very beat driven and grooves relentlessly.
How annoyed to you get when people confuse you with the Entourage TV character?
I once woke up to get the morning paper and in big letters on the cover of the New York Observer it said “Who Is Driving Ari Gold Crazy?” I was like, Ari Gold is driving Ari Gold crazy! But me and the character could not be more different. OUT magazine did a compare and contrast column. In one column it said Ari Gold recording artist “likes dick” and Entourage Ari Gold “is a dick.”
I read your tweets and you recently tweeted about falling in love on New Years Eve – care to explain yourself there?…
Oh god! I’ve just started a lot of important relationships in my life on New Years and this past year I was expecting it to be pretty laid back but what do you know, I met someone I really crushed on. The opening line of “Make My Body Rock” is “sweet lust/lust not love/its been too long” – sometimes I just want some lust in my life and if it turns into love, well that would be awesome.
What are your new years resolutions?
I’m pretty hard on myself all year round so I don’t tend to make big resolutions. But finding balance….its always all about that.
Tell me about your collection of Wonder Woman comics – I too am a fan.
My friend who helped me move out of my apartment was so sick of Wonder Woman cause she was everywhere in my apartment! I have a pretty great comic collection with a few 10 centers and a bunch of 12 centers from the 60’s and then I have lots from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as well. George Perez created the best era of the comic book. But I also have figures and 3 different Wonder Woman Barbie dolls. They are pretty fucking gorgeous!
You recently met Lynda Carter herself…
Yes! It was a lifelong dream come true! She even tweeted about me and my music! No human being has embodied Wonder Woman better than Lynda Carter. She even created the spin! I mean, come on!
Now you're an OUT artist and I'm curious about your thoughts on this – Rupert Everett recently complained about coming out saying that it's cost him leading man roles in his career. Do you feel that by being an OUT musician, in today's day and age, it's a hindrance?
Homophobia in the industry, whether the film industry or music industry is real. Show-business, just because it is a creative field with lots of gay people in it, is not immune to homophobia. Gay people are not immune to homophobia either. Have things gotten better in some ways? Absolutely. I’d like to think that I have done my part in trying to move us forward. When I came out on the music scene there was nobody who was openly gay from the beginning of their career. Even though dealing with the homophobia within the industry has been challenging, I see being able to do this work as not a hindrance but actually a gift. It’s all about that Gandhi quote about being the change you want to see in the world.
Do you support people like Ricky Martin who gets criticized for taking mainstream success first then coming out?
Of course I support Ricky! It’s not our place to judge someone else’s process of coming out and accepting themselves. No one knows what it’s like to be Ricky Martin except Ricky Martin. And he’s been in the public eye since he was a child in Menudo. Every time someone that famous comes out its a good thing. I hope its an inspiration for artists to be out from the start and have successful careers. Its been over 20 years since George Michael, Boy George and Elton John have come out. I hope we don’t have to wait another 20 for it to not be seen as such a big deal.
What's the hardest part about being an OUT musician?
Being put in a box or ghettoized because I have chosen to be out and chosen to explore life as a gay man in music–that’s the hardest part. Sexuality and Identity are incredibly complex and the experience of being gay is different in everybody. How can we not explore this in pop music? What we go through as gay men is something everyone can relate to. Its’ universal. We see it happen in theater, film, TV, so why not pop music?
Any closing words for EQ readers.
I love what you do here at EQ and I am a big fan of the blog and I am honored to be in such good company. You and the EQ readers are what its all about and why I do what I do! I really mean that.
Let's take a another look at the video for "Make My Body Rock" shall we…