Adam (and Celeste) Goldberg Talk Social Media, Music and The Goldberg Sisters' Latest Album 'Strangers Morning'
LAist had a chance to quiz actor-writer-director-photographer-musician Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan, Two Days In Paris, Dazed and Confused) and his twin sister Celeste** about the latest installment of Adam's musical project The Goldberg Sisters.
We asked Adam (or maybe it was Celeste?) about the new Goldberg Sisters’ record Stranger’s Morning, which was released earlier this week; Adam’s use of social media (he made the first video from the album completely out of Vine videos); the love-hate relationship to performing live; and favorite places to watch music in LA.
Really digging the track “It Can Get You Down” from Stranger's Morning. Your vocals have been compared to John Lennon, among others. How do you feel about the comparison?
Thank you so much for saying, I'm glad you like it.
Lennon. I feel okay about it. I mean I noticed it myself when I first plugged my mic into a delay pedal in the early '90s, when I was doing a lot of 4-tracking. I don't think I've gone out of my way to cultivate this. If I could sing like anybody it would probably be Billie Holiday or something. But it is what it is in a certain register. Of course I also have come to write songs increasingly that have a faux '50s song structure thing, which is often what he also used to tell his stories. But of course there's a part of me that wants to be judged on the music as a whole that I am creating—and the bed of background vocals I often sing and compose, often in a variety of registers. Or people get so fixated on the vocal thing my playing and songwriting seems to take backseat. But I totally get it. I hear it too.
Oh, the song "Slapback" is actually my finally sort of confronting this comparison. I wrote it on his birthday when I was living in New York a couple years ago.
Who do you look to for inspiration when crafting your songs?
Well, they don't start out necessarily with any frame of reference. Many times the seed is simply a loop I create on a loop pedal. Very occasionally, as with the song "Locked," I'll play something that reminds me of, in that instance, "Wild is the Wind," and I'll go with it and use the production of that song as a reference. But usually the song informs the direction. And then maybe I'll go to my go to—he guys I love to give me production ideas—anybody from Sparklehorse to America to Dionne Warwick to The Flaming Lips.
Can you talk a little bit about the importance of social media (Vine, Tumblr) to your music. It seems like you take the social media aspect way beyond promoting your material.
Well I started Twitter and Facebook accounts, years ago with designs solely to promote my material. But I have such a relatively feeble following—except on my Tumblr blog where I'm listed in the directory under "Photographers." I mean I've had the founder of Twitter re-Tweet me and it gets me about 10 followers! Clearly I've maxed out. But it's just as well really, since my account consists largely of—or did before Vine —Tumblr posts containing analog photos or tape recorded demos, etc. If i was on like Law and Order or whatever and had 250k followers, I'm not sure those folks would give a shit about that. Actually I've noticed I have an incredible attrition rate. Some days it's 50/50. As it is, well, again until Vine, I've been followed and follow a lovely community of photographers and artists.
Anyway, I only took to using Vine as a promotional tool when I realized it could be an effective and entertaining way to promote—and document—my music making. For me, Vine and the whole thing has been a fluke. Suddenly people are interested in my weird nocturnal emissions—if you will—as long as they don't exceed 6 seconds. But it's been fun, a really interesting platform. Having said that, I'm in semi-retirement; once you start doing rear-screen projected driving sequences and composing entire songs for 6 second videos, it's time to take a breather. Plus I'm prepping my film, No Way Jose, currently to direct, here in L.A. in a month. And that's like 5,400 Vines.
What's your working relationship like with Celeste? And how intrinsic was she to this second album, really?
You're talking to her now.
Any plans on touring with the new album's release?
I don't have a band so each time I put out a record I have to sort of frantically assemble musicians and not just learn and arrange pretty heavily layered songs, but learn how to be comfortable on stage—which I'm not. I love recording. And I do love playing with a band for fun. But I get genuinely sick with anxiety when I've been required or required myself to assemble a band and perform. Occasionally it's been really satisfying. I so wish I loved it. But it's almost an entirely different skill set. On this record I played and sung everything myself (brilliant local Andrew Lynch recorded me and mixed record) and so I had all this control. It was very self-contained, very methodical. All that goes out the window once you have to put a show on. Someday I hope to overcome this hurdle or simply have more time to devote to it. Plus, beta-blockers may help.
This Sunday, however, a bunch of my musician pals, and I are going to record more or less live, at The Ship, Aaron Espinoza's studio. In my movie, I play a washed up indie rocker who is now playing children's birthday parties. So I need to record songs for the movie to use as playback for the party sequences in which the band plays. So these guys Sunday, including Aaron, are gonna be in the movie and I figured it should sound a feel like a real band, rather than me doing it all and having them fake it on screen. So I'm actually really looking forward to getting out of garage and out of my own head and having a band. Even if it's a temporary/movie band (called "Jose and The Borges").
What was your first concert? Your most recent?
Fleetwood Mac. Age 11. 1982. Way too old to fall asleep on my mother's lap. Most recent....Uh....Dodger game? That's not a concert. Uh...God I sound like a pussy, I barely see live music anymore. Used to be one of my favorite things. My ears started to get really sensitive. Wow, such a pussy. Uh, was it The Lips? That was so long ago now though, at Hollywood Cemetery. Jesus, I can't remember. Pathetic. Earlimart? Jimmy Scott at the Echo (co-hosted that)....uh.....
Where in LA do you like listening to live music?
I was definitely a fixture for years at Spaceland, now The Satellite. The Echo/Echoplex. Used to see stuff at Silverlake lounge, mainly friends acts, but Christ I remember standing outside there in the '90s, filled to capacity, people crammed up against the exterior—like the guy in 'Round Midnight listening to Dexter Gordon play, while he's stuck, broke, outside in the rain— listening to Elliot Smith for the first time. I'd see him perform countless times after that. But the first time I saw him, I didn't see him.
Check out the video for "Strangers Morning," created entirely from Vine videos: