LSD Magazine interviews Goldie

Issue Eight – Walls of Perception – November 23rd 2011


It’s impossible to walk into a room with Goldie and not instantly be slammed up against the walls by the sheer intensity radiating off him. Forget his media portrayals, forget what you think you know about him, he is a deeply complex, highly intelligent firestorm of taut volatility oscillating furiously between genius and lunacy, creativity and destruction, karmic peace and frenetic chaos – a seething mass of edgy contradictions where spectacularly vivid lucidity hurtles through the particle accelerator at Einstein bending speeds and shoots out into mercurial redemption. But one overriding, overwhelming light shines scorchingly through – he is 1000% – 24 carat – fu*king proper. The realest deal

It seems both trite and pointless to wade through his life’s work trying to cobble together some sort of biography for an absolute underground legend whose spectacularly harnessed energies straddle art, music and the wider cultural matrix. He’s done it all, smashed untold barriers to crystal shards, revolutionised musical vortices, torn a spray soaked whirlwind through graffiti and urban art alike and caned the absolute arse out of every last drop of existence – rampaging through wanton absurdities of hedonistic excess while somehow keeping a magnetic hold on integrity, spirituality and the profound essence of conscious connection.

Twisting, turning, yearning, burning at a million miles an hour through cryptic fractals of tempestuous metaphor and sub atomic switches of synaptic electricity, this is not a man who fucks around in an interview – keep up and get it – or do one. In the nicest possible way of course. Alchemy was a perpetual theme – weaving its serpentine magic through gloriously non linear flows of reflection and self awareness. The extraordinarily multi polar bolts ricocheting out of him were dripping with insight – as streams of spirituality crackled with a silent violence and unashamed vulnerabilities remixed passionate bursts of flame forged knowledge. He hurled it all out in front of us with extraordinary honesty – certain about his lack of certainty as humbleness, the path to unspoken wisdom, the timeless trap of ego’s siren song and ultimate self knowledge rode the most ethereal cosmic currents while always staying locked firmly down to the concrete rhythms of the streets. He is truly one of life’s magical people and only laying out what was said can possibly do it justice..

So – to crack straight in then – how do you perceive the relationship between alchemy and creativity

Oh fuck – don’t start me off……. It took me a long time to work out that I was an alchemist – and not being funny but I was sweating my arse off in a Bikram (yoga) studio this morning thinking about the same question. It’s something that plays through my mind every single day. Alchemy stems from two core elements – the creative and the conscious – and consciousness is really the underlying foundation of that dualism. It can take a lifetime to work out who the fu*k we are – with only the constant presence of the ego making us believe we might be something other than who or what we fundamentally are, but by pushing through those surface levels of ego driven consciousness, you start to seriously fu*k with the dark arts – and that can be a dangerous game as well as a profoundly enlightening one. Now when I say the dark arts – I’m not talking about sitting round some poxy Ouija board – but dealing with transformations on shadowy, subconscious levels that you’re entering into almost blind – with intuition and the hidden aspects of yourself feeling their way through rather than the standard, self- control based, daily realities of the ego side of consciousness. And that can be dangerous, because you’re never quite sure where the fu*k it will lead or what it will uncover. I’m an artist who didn’t know he was an artist for a massive chunk of my life – I fell into music almost accidentally and within the spheres of audio and visual, I’ve probably experienced everything that I’d ever want to experience, and then broadened those ranges into the physical…

He takes a primal circle of gleaming chrome off his finger – fluid curves sparkling with a quiet power, shoots it a split second of intensity and lets it spin onto the table – a pride and a deep connection laced with a sense of not quite believing some aspect of it. If that makes any sense?  We’re talking light speed impressions here. As it ripples in the ray of light peering through the door – it’s clearly fucking beautiful – no frills – no bullshit – just curves curving away into mirrored cycles – but he almost  self deprecates –  far more nuanced than anything as simple as false modesty – cos it ain’t. He’s completely comfortable with all his achievements and everything he’s done from the stratospheric to the simple – but he almost seemed to play his role in making this profoundly personal symbol back down the second he  put it out there – but only for a nano second as his sense of wonder at life’s kaleidoscope kicks straight back in….

I made this fu*king thing…. But that’s true alchemy right there, going straight back to melting gold and transforming it’s form and function  – melting it hard into the crucible until it’s no longer gold but a chrome fucking liquid darting across the surface of itself metamorphosising through endless patterns of chaos until you pour it into a mold and hit it with a hammer in the hope that you can break that down into a new, shaped essence given meaning through the process.

How does that stand up as a metaphor for your life

My life has always worked backwards. It’s like I’ve been walking backwards – and that’s not just a directional thing – it’s actually walking backwards – tripping up all over the gaff – making it difficult for myself both as an artist and as a person rather than just taking the simple, obvious route. Drugs – rock n roll – you name it – there’s always been gaping pitfalls created along the ride – by my own hand. But there’s a process in that…. If I’d just gone and done Madonna’s album or worked with Puffy or whatever – gone to LA and taken all those ‘obvious’ opportunities I was offered, I’d either have been found dead with a needle in my arm, done a Phil Spectre , running round with a 9mm trying to shoot someone or ended up on my hands and knees searching for gear in the back garden at 5 in the morning cos I’m off me tits.
All of which was always a milimetre away- that much is obvious. But then as he said – there’s a process in that – those darting liquid patterns of molten chrome that ebbed and flowed through every conceivable angle – where the alchemist’s hammer can only hope to impose form on chaos – not order – cos who the fuck wants anything quite so dull as order –no, definitely  form. The balance that keeps unity synched if not structured.

I had to have a certain amount of resistance – trust in a certain spirit that’s had to hold me back from riding extremes into apocalypse. I’ve had to be muted , and muting for me was about going out and getting completely out of my nut – and that was a very dangerous liason.
If I look at all the Bikram I’ve been doing in the last 18 months, I know it sounds weird, but I feel like I’m now balancing into a natural drug with the yoga where that muting is organic and the insights are slower but infinitely more powerful.

Makes total and utter sense – drugs of their different stripes- the outright sledgehammer hedonist rush to the psychedelic journey are modern culture’s short cut to elevated or numbed reality – invaluable bursts of experience intrinsically cursed by their own short termism – as if the effort they absolve you of making ultimately fucks you until you realize that those benefits are only sustainable naturally and with an awful lot of hard work put in. But back to the backwards rewind…..

goldie-10Speaking of living your life backwards – you’ve been talking very openly about your childhood recently – has that exploration of your early days been triggered by your current sense of balance or has your younger self always been a conscious presence.

I’ve always done it. Right here right now – in this gallery – I’m done. The paintings are on the walls, the melting pot has been stirred, the chaos has been thrown up into the air, been freeze framed as an idea and collapsed back into my mind. It’s done. But just yesterday as I was standing on a painting, thinking about this chunk of burned wood that I’ve got stuck into with this mad drill, lasered and sanded down – I’ve realised that it doesn’t even need an image on it – it’s mental. And in that instant I was straight back at my first handyman lesson at school. I smelt the classroom.

The golden age of life for me is like a set of coils that are circular and you keep going back to them. And that works on so many levels. Recently I did this massive gig in Holland, and suddenly drum n bass is this OG thing and 20 years has passed – you’re wondering where the fu*k those decades went, but part and parcel of maturity is that acceptance of letting go – of dialing down the ego and making way for youth as the cycles turn rather than clinging on to your own self absorbed trajectory. I’m still making music and playing music every week – still deep in the matrix, but the combination of age and being switched on allows you the humbleness to see past the record company cheques in the back pocket, the ridiculous piles of cash, the drug dealers hanging off you and the women throwing themselves at you…… And when all that paparazzi shit’s gone, you can start to realize what being a real artist over the years takes.

Now some people might call that a mid life crisis, but I’ve had my mid life crisis – my Saturnz Return (for those who don’t know what Saturn’s Return is –  the phenomenon not the album – look it up and see how it reflects on your own life) – the point at which I made Mother when I was about 33. So I’ve already been through that car crash. And as you push through into new understandings of your artistic self you start to differentiate between forms of art and the headspace they exist in. There’s processed art – a commission – a beginning, middle and end – a functional process to an end where you stick your B Boy Mac brain on and think ‘Right – that image – like that – twist that – warp that – do this to it and we’re golden – cool’ It’s mechanics – it’s Macified if you like – creativity through hyper logic.

goldie-09But the new stuff that I’m doing with paint and acrylics – with burnt wood, layers, African images all these new elements swim with me all the time. I can’t switch off. When you turn a light off – the current is still running to the light – it’s just that switch that stands between on and off. And I don’t have that switch – it’s a constant fu*king flow.  And the coil turns full circle back to dualism – call it left brain right brain – yin and yang – throw whatever cultural context or spiritual theory over it you like, we’re back to that fundamental interplay – that unstable dance between ego and unconscious – logic and intuition –classical physics and quantum mechanics. True art is something that channels though the artist not some clever conception that the Mac brain can impose on the senses.

So what you’re an artist??? No… The artist is pretending to be this guy called Goldie…The age I’m at now, I feel that the universe thinks I’m responsible enough to handle good things in my life. Given to me too early, and I’d have spunked it. And I did. Been there and done it. Wrapped Ferraris round trees, Bentleys, fast cars, fast women, the biggest piles of Columbian flake you can imagine – I’ve done it all. And you know – there’s no wealth like the wealth of experience – no material wealth can touch it. And while as I say, I’ve pissed untold cash up against the wall in my younger days, I’m lucky enough to still be doing alright and I can have nice things around me because I now have the sense and the ability to hold onto them. It was difficult for me back in the 90’s – drum n bass was going off – there weren’t that many people doing it, and by it’s nature it was a faceless music. And so I ended up as the poster boy for the whole scene.

Mouthful of gold teeth and and an electric vibe – bound to happen. Absolute gift to a media eternally looking for simple imagery to act as a vehicle for things they don’t really get. They’d always much rather break down the complexity of an underground movement into one symbol, one personality – eternally skin deep rather than doing their fu*king job and opening windows of actual understanding. And once the media’s got hold of you…It ends up almost like paint-balling. You run and you run with all this information and opportunity and wealth and fame and fu*k knows what else spraying all over you – then there comes a time when you stop, realize there’s no cunt behind you and you’re being shot to pieces. I felt like the face of it all out there being crucified – and you know – we’re all fucking human. Every cunt wants to be on the front of a magazine – so at the beginning – course I was up for it. But if we’re talking about the shallowness of media portrayals – just look at graffiti.

You’re never really going to understand it in its purest form unless you know letter form and font and understand style and how a letter can live infinite stylistic lives. And it’s only a handful of people in a nation of people that can genuinely read it, appreciate it and live it the way it was intended. But as soon as it emerges from that closed circle, it gets watered down and endlessly diluted until it can be slapped onto a T-shirt and sold in Selfridges for a ridiculous amount of money under some stupid name.

goldie-02Which is what happened to drum n bass

Exactly the same. It’s the same f**king thing. Just happened to dubstep. But then culture is a thing that constantly evolves. Look at the impact of stencil art – the reason Banksy was so clever was because he realised that we were now living in a CCTV society where we don’t have 4 or 5 hours like we used to have in the yards in the old days. You’ve got a fucking hour at most so you have to adjust your medium and your way of doing things to a constantly shifting platform. Bang – stencils… And no matter what happens – however movements get chewed up and spat out by commercialism – the true core will always remain and find ways of adapting. Seen used to get up on loads of trains because he had the keys to the yards. Look at the poster art now – how do you adapt your approach – find a guy with a shit job who works for the billboard companies – chuck some money at him for a set of keys to all the billboards, open em up and you’re away.

I come from a different era – I come from graff and you look at some of the ‘street art’ and you can’t help but think it’s a bit like painting by numbers. But then you’ve got to respect the process and the evolutions. Interesting – there is this divide between so called street art and graffiti that from the outside seems almost irrelevant – it’s either good art or it isn’t – and does the fact that can control took years to master diminish the meaning and impact of a stencil?
There’s a lot of tribalism in this – and while as a graff artist who’s spent years getting up freehand with painstakingly honed skills, it’s got to piss you off that someone can stick up a few stencils and be raking it in at the galleries without any of the blood sweat and tears – or the strong identity of graffiti – is that objectively wrong as some graff artists would have it or is it as Goldie says – an inevitable offshoot of cultural flux  that has to be respected even if not embraced Or neither – Art is fu*king art – creativity is creativity and integrity is integrity
The only argument is with yourself. That’s what it comes down to. This table we’re sat at looks to me like a glass table – it looks to you like a glass table….. But our perceptions of it are different.

I mean take this exhibition of the Olympic athletes. It’s a flex on how I see the Olympics without it being this super sharp, totally digital, computer generated way of seeing it that so much of the media generated version of it is that I feel is just too detached from normal society. Something I can feel – something I can taste. Something that takes me back to the age of 9 sat in a children’s home watching Seb Coe and Steve Ovett  in a moment that stuck deep in my mind like a smell or a touch that instantly opens a state of emotion back up. And that’s the only way real art can ever happen – it’s a take on stuff – a viewpoint – it can’t be universal or mean everything to everyone. You make a track or an album because you’re feeling it and then all of a sudden everyone wants to buy it – great – but you can’t make it according to what you think people will want to buy because apart from it being a betrayal of art on every level – it more than likely won’t fu*king work.

goldie-06There’s always this danger of being an all round artist – of jumping from music into painting and so on – the old adage – Jack of all trades – master of none. But it’s also about how you actually see the world on a second by second basis. I look at the planet as if from a plane – to all intents and purposes it’s flat – but I can see the curve in that horizon – that underlying rhythm of detail and that’s how I’ve seen the world since I was 9 years old. I’ve always had this super conscious outlook on reality – and that in itself is dangerous as you start buying into your own ego.

Stop. Stop……Hold up……. He frisks himself

You want art – this is fucking art – the guy who created this –this planet – the natural world in all its complexity. Now that’s an artist. And if it was all a cosmic accident??? What an amazing fu*king accident. The Dalai Lama was once asked what creature astounds him the most. And his answer was mankind. When pressed further on why, he simply said – he spends his entire life either looking at the past or looking at the future – never in the present. And when he dies…..he never really lived. And sat here at 45 years old – I just want to live so hard. What have I got – 20 / 25 years left in the bag? That could be the most conscious time of my life.