Ari Gold releases vibrant collection
“Soundtrack to Freedom” is gay singer Ari Gold’s latest album, a vibrant collection of EDM anthems — plus a ballad and a slow jam — about love, sex and sexuality. The performer, who lives in New York, took time to chat about his music as well as sexuality.
Why did you choose singing as a career?
I didn’t choose a career as a singer. It chose me. I recorded my first record when I was six years old. I was discovered as a signer at my brother’s Bar Mitzvah. I sang jingles that taught me about melody and harmony. I had my first demo when I was 12 on my cassette tape! I started writing songs when I was 14. I always wrote about my life. So it made sense to me that when I came out, and accepted myself that I would be writing from that perspective as well.
How much do you think you sexuality ties into your music?
I don’t only write about sexuality; I write about love. I’ve always been a bit precocious sexually. I did spend years struggling and being in the closet and feeling like I would be ostracized by my family and community [if I came out]. Despite my struggles with my sexuality, I was always very interested and excited by sex. Some folks are not as sexual. I feel like after all these years, it’s still important for me to continue to explore that. If you look around at gay role models in pop music, we have very, very few.
What can you say about the emphasis on sex in your music? Songs like “Take Your Shirt Off” and “Sex Like a Pornstar” certainly emphasize sex?
“Sex like a Pornstar” is pretty out there. It’s a metaphor about living life to the fullest. It’s autobiographical. I’ve strived to have sex like a porn star, and have those moments where you live the fantasy [laughs]. “Take Your Shirt Off” came out as celebrating what I see as a gay male tradition at all the EDM parties. I come from the Larry Kramer school where I feel even in this world of greater acceptance, we have a culture and a history and traditions that can be celebrated. Perhaps it comes from the fact that Larry Kramer and I come from Jewish backgrounds. It’s kind of a Jewish way of looking at things. I also wanted the lyrics to express that we can take out shirts off with all kinds of bodies, “Bears cubs, chasers, and chubs.” There’s another line in that song too I’m quite proud of, “Everyone can marry, we can kiss on TV.” I wrote that a year ago, and it was a vision for the future, and hear we are, the album is released, and everyone can marry in this country.
Speaking of Judaism, how does religion play into you work? There are lyrics in “Personal Apocalypse” about Jesus that struck me.
Jesus was Jewish. That song is really about the search for meaning and spirituality in one’s life. There is spirituality to be found in these very old practices and religions, but it’s about coming to a point in my own life where you are trying everything and it feels like the world is falling apart, and you need something to lift you and bring you out. I felt that in the last two years making this album. This album was my own personal soundtrack to freedom. I was dealing with fairly serious health issues, and the music really healed me and kept me going.
Would you describe your songs as “political”? The title song, “Soundtrack to Freedom” makes a case for this, perhaps.
I come from the feminist thought — “The personal is political.” I am being political. There is another great quote: What is the point of making art if it’s not political? And I mean that in the sense of social change. Love is political. Dance music is often seen as frivolous. Not only is it not frivolous, but it has been the soundtrack to our freedom. We’ve told many different stories in the history of dance music. It’s about telling stories, and the multiplicity and multi-faceted nature of who we are as a community.
I like the dance tracks, but can you discuss your slow jam, “Back in High School” and your ballad, “Leave the World Changed”?
I could not make an album without a smooth slow jam! I can have the four on the floor boom chicka, but I am a sucker for a mid tempo slow jam like “Back in High School.” I also wanted a ballad. Bob [Sandee] played me a 30 second piano riff and that’s where “Leave the World Changed” came from. The song came out of not knowing if I would have another day, and if I would leave the world changed. It also means that I change, and that I leave the world a “changed” man.