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Interview: Golden Glow

By Nolan Siegler

In the few short years since Golden Glow became active, they’ve managed to establish a footprint in the Manchester music scene. With the wealth of great bands that once called Manchester their home, expectations for greatness might prove to be too much for some songwriters. Instead, Golden Glow ignored many grand expectations and created a unique blend of jangle-pop with a shoegaze sheen.

Golden Glow mastermind Pierre Hall described his band’s debut album in a recent conversation. Hall also touched base on his primary influences and how Manchester impacts his material.

Spartan Chronicle: What have you been up to since the release of your debut album?

Pierre Hall: We’ve been playing some gigs, mainly in Manchester. We played a good one at the Manchester International Festival, and also some in London. We also have others coming up in Birmingham and Sheffield. Aside from the shows, we’ve been try to write songs for a new album.

Spartan Chronicle: Your debut album contains a certain bedroom quality. How did its creation allow this element to shine through?

PH: The entire album was written, recorded and produced by me on a digital 4-track recorder in the attic of my previous house. Nothing was written on a computer. I played everything on the album apart from bass guitar on 2 of the tracks, which was done by a friend of mine.

Spartan Chronicle: Does the photographs featured on the album cover reflect this theme?

PH: The photos were all taken by me. I thought that they were quite evocative of the songs and the sound of the recordings, while acting as a representation of the lo-fi aesthetic. There’s no real theme behind them, other than the fact that they were all snapped around the same time that the songs were written and recorded. They are like pieces to a puzzle and remind me of all the emotions I was feeling around that time.

Spartan Chronicle: Your single “Adore Me” was featured as a free download on NME a while ago. Does the support from these types of publications affect your songwriting process?

PH: It’s always great to be appreciated, no matter where it comes from, but it’s not something I tend to worry about. I certainly wouldn’t let it affect my songwriting. “Adore Me” was actually given away through Mush Records, but NME provided a little promotion for the download in their magazine.

Spartan Chronicle: Why did you cover the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatal” for the single?

PH: I did it because we needed something new to be included on the “Adore Me” single. “Femme Fatal” has always been one of my favorite songs, so it was an obvious decision for me to cover it. Like many of my recordings, my interpretation sprung up by accident, but I tried not to obsess over it. Once it was complete, I send it to Mush Records and they loved it. It seemed to fit quite well with the other songs featured on the single.

Spartan Chronicle: How has Nico influenced you?

PH: Nico is one of my main influences. I love the sound of her voice, her image, and the fact that she made the best with what she had. Chelsea Girl is one of my favorite albums of all time. I also love everything the Velvet Underground has done, but I tend to lean more towards their song-based albums.

Spartan Chronicle: Are the distinct shoegaze and C86 elements of your songs intentional or nice surprises?

PH: They are more of a surprise really. Although I listen to a lot of artists associated with those genres, I think the resemblance is dictated more by the method of recording I utilized. Many of the songs were written around a beat rather than on a guitar, which is something that a lot of bands signed to Sarah Records would do. 

Shoegaze music was already an influence, but I think it shows in my songs because of the various built-in guitar effects on the digital 4-track I was using. It allowed me to build more layers of guitars, which lent to songs like “The Blizzard.” I also used an old Roland-505 for the track “On My Own,” which gives it a darker edge.

Spartan Chronicle: Who are some other artists that have influenced your songwriting?

PH: Both Felt and Orange Juice are major influences. Actually, our name comes from “Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow” by Felt. Other artists like the Velvet Underground, Pulp, Hefner, Modern Lovers and Television are also important to me, because they influence my vocal style as well and my music. I think they’re all great examples of bands with singers who don’t have traditional voices. As I mentioned before with Nico, these vocalists made the best with what they had. In turn, they created something unique, cool and completely distinctive.

Spartan Chronicle: Does Manchester have an affect on Golden Glow?

PH: Of course, but not the just the music. I’m more influenced by the architecture, weather and people. It’s much easier to take in a wealth of influences with the internet these days, but I think the environment and people of Manchester have made much more of an impact.

Spartan Chronicle: Is there anywhere other than Manchester you wished you lived?

PH: I would definitely like to live in Paris. I’ve been there several times and fell completely in love with every aspect of it. I feel like I belong there.

Spartan Chronicle: Have you played any shows there?

PH: Nope. It’s difficult for everyone involved with Golden Glow to play at places far away because we all have day jobs. That being said, we are planning upcoming shows for next year and hope to travel more.

Spartan Chronicle: Can you share some of these plans?

PH: We’re playing a few shows around the end of this year in London, Sheffield and Birmingham. It’s difficult to schedule shows around our day jobs, but we just try and make the best of it.  It’d be good to land a small support tour for next year or something.

Spartan Chronicle: Is there anything else listeners can expect from Golden Glow in the future?

PH: We’ve written quite a few songs for our next record and hope to start recording this spring. The album will definitely have more of a full-band aesthetic, and a much larger sound in terms of production.

Spartan Chronicle: Does this mean a change your recording habits?

PH: Yes. We’ll be working with an external producer for the first time. It’s exciting and important for us to evolve as a band. We’ve taken a few cues from the Horrors. They are a band that has greatly evolved in their career, which is something I hope Golden Glow can do. Evolution is definitely our objective.