An Exclusive Interview with South African duo GoldFish -- Dance Music's Best Kept Secret
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An Exclusive Interview with South African duo GoldFish -- Dance Music's Best Kept Secret

Perfecting the art of jazz, EDM and live performance in their latest album 'Late Night People'

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An Exclusive Interview with South African duo GoldFish -- Dance Music's Best Kept Secret
GoldFish Facebook Page

As the electronic music industry becomes more and more saturated with the same type of music and DJs spin the same recycled sets repeatedly, one duo's distinct sound has continuously withstood conformity. Equipped with an artful perfection of live performance and creative diversity in production, South African electronic duo GoldFish has won recognition around the world in the form of an MTV Africa Award, a 4-year residency at Pacha Ibiza and sold-out shows across the board.

After four award-winning albums, GoldFish is back with its most diverse and polished album yet, Late Night People. Gracing New York City with a special performance at Samsung 837, the masterminds behind GoldFish, Dominic Peters and David Poole, sat down with us to give all the details on their new album and to crack even more jokes. Check out the interview below:


How do you guys feel tonight?

Dom: We’re feeling good! There’s really nothing better than playing in New York and this venue is one of the coolest we’ve ever seen.

In a couple days, you guys will be playing ACL and then coming back to New York for 2 nights with Parov Steeler. Can you talk about your feelings in anticipation of these events?

Dom: Well actually tomorrow we fly back to San Diego for a show in town and straight from that show, we’ll fly to ACL and do that.

Dave: And also the Amsterdam Dance Event which is sold out.

Dom: It’s a very exciting time because we have the new album out. Everyone’s been waiting for the new music for a while including us. We were sitting on a bed of secrets that we couldn't tell anyone, but now we can tell everyone that aliens exist.

Will we ever see a big North America tour?

Dom: We’ve done quite a few over the years. Now that we’re based in San Diego we’re touring around America all the time, although not necessarily all in one go which is actually better because we can pick to do shows on Thursday, Friday, Saturday like we’re doing now. I think over the next 12 months we’ll be all over the country.

So you two met during college while both studying jazz. What elements of your life growing up influenced you to pursue that field of study?

Dave: Well, we both started instruments at a young age and went through various instruments. Once I got into sax, jazz was natural. Being a young kid, I also loved electronic music. I went to a rave once and didn’t know what was going on, just thinking, "what are all these weird people listening to?" *laughter* Dom and I used to travel to a show every week in Cape Town and play a grueling 4-hour gig and eventually we were like, "wow, let’s do something." So we started making some tunes. We didn’t really know how to produce tracks and we just played live and went from there. Suddenly, people were talking about it and gigs came our way.

Dom: We were making a kind of music that people didn’t know they wanted yet. We didn’t know we wanted it.

Dave: We were just busking like jazz musicians normally do.

Dom: We literally made it up as we were going along and that accidental discovery sort of shaped the rest of our lives.

You just released your latest album last week! Let’s talk about Late Night People a little bit. What were some of the inspirations behind this album?

Dom: Inspirations are always the same for music. We don’t just listen to dance music; the most dangerous thing you can do is just listen to your own genre because you don’t bring anything from outside, anything fresh. Our whole angle is always to bring an acknowledgement of what’s happening in the dance scene now.

Dave: The interesting thing about this album is that I always felt that it’s taken a while to figure out a better way of including what we do live into our recordings and it feels to me like we’ve really meshed the two together finally. In our previous records, it feels like we barely succeed on that level, it’s taken the fifth album to figure it out properly. We get it right occasionally, but we finally managed to get it right consistently.

Dom: I feel like we’re just figuring out our own genre. Like people always try to define our sound and we struggle with defining it too.

Dave: We struggle with it more than the people from outside do because it’s easier outside looking in than inside looking out. Before we were just grabbing for straws all over the place. I feel like this album is truly a distillation of GoldFish, in its purest form.

So this is the most GoldFish sounding album?

Dom: I think we’re just coming of age.

Dave: Like a ripe peach *laughter*

Dom: Listening back to our first album, there’s like things, “how did we come up with that?”

Dave: Was that me??? *laughter*

Dom: I feel like you know you’re doing good work when you surprise yourself and that’s what you always aim to do.

There’s incredible diversity on this album and you brought on a lot of features and vocalists to make this happen. How did you come about meeting and eventually collaborating with some of these artists?

Dom: With bribery.

Dave: With great difficulty. Honestly, our collaborations were some of the toughest work on the album

Dom: It’s also difficult because you’re dealing with oceans sometimes. You’re not in the same room with everyone.

Dave: The people who weren’t in LA was tough because of time zones. You get one email across per 24-hour period.

Dom: They’d be awake when we were asleep. And things get lost in translation over text and FaceTime. Technology is amazing and it’s allowed us to do what we’ve done, but it’s not the same as being together in the same room.

Dave: This album was pretty much recorded across different countries — Cape Town, Nicaragua, Amsterdam, Costa Rica, Atlanta.

Dom: And mixed everywhere too.

Dave: It was really amazing because we got to work with Soweto Kinch who’s this alto sax phenomenon we bumped into 12 years ago when we were playing a Cape Town jazz festival and he came on after us and we were mind blown. We had that track “Late Night People” and we thought it’d truly be amazing to get him. We emailed him out of the blue and he was like “hey guys, we love the track and would love to do something”. We were chilling out in Nicaragua and having a good time in the village.

Dom: Studio in the jungle.

Dave: There’s a nice beach and some nice local rum.

Dom: How to make your music sounds better. *laughter*

Dave: We threw him into the session and sat back and were amazed. High intensity, high energy and to top it off, he whipped out his alto sax at the end and just blew a mean solo. From that point in the album, we really thought we were onto something and it was coming together.

Dom: For such a long time, we were just throwing paint onto a canvas.

Dave: The amazing thing was we played that song to a couple of people thinking it would be a good song to end the album with, but the reaction was so instant from every single person we played it to. It went from being that to the album title and the opening track.

That’s cool how everything worked out.

Dom: That’s also not trying too hard as well. When we were younger, we might not have let ourselves go there. This was quite experimental and we feel especially in dance music, there’s this unspoken rule about how things sound and we decided to fuck all that.

That brings me to my next question. Just earlier today, you put out a really fun video for “Talk to Me”. There’s a very obvious message you’re trying to get across with this music video, right?

Dave: Our videos have always had a tiny cheek poke at many things.

Dom: They’ve always been kind of zany.

Dave: There’s various themes in the video which we kind of touch on and have many different layers like an onion. But it’s not too serious and it’s all just fun.

Dom: There are some sides of dance music that are disappointing. It’s not all real, like you look up to someone and then find out they don’t even make their own music. For us as musicians, we’ve come into dance music and that seems so strange. I don’t think you should be purporting yourself as the figurehead of a song if you didn’t make the song.

Dave: I think it’s worse in electronic music. It’s like some people are DJs, but not producers. Others are producers, but not DJs and there’s people who are neither.

Dom: It’s like buying a song and putting their name on it.

Dave: You shouldn’t be able to buy it is the thing. There should at least be some deep down talent instead of being very good looking.

Dom: Or being good on social media. That side of dance music makes me a little disillusioned so of course..

Dave: We make a video about it! *laughter*

It’s hilarious, I laughed when I saw it.

Dom: If you can’t laugh at it, it probably means you’re one of them. *laughter*

In terms of live performance, was it a lot of trial and error in perfecting your ability to improvise on stage?

Dave: 100%. We’re still working on it. The very first gig we played we were actually sitting down for it.

Dom: Because we imported our whole studio there.

Dave: A funny piece of cheap equipment we’d bought off eBay as college students and put it together with printer cables. After the gig, a friend of ours came up to us and goes, "you guys, that was really cool, but maybe next time you should try standing up." And that was the evolution of GoldFish.

Dom: Suddenly we went from sitting down to our club residency in Pacha, Ibiza which was crazy, like getting thrown to the lions. We were playing the most famous club in the world and on the main floor. I think in the beginning, we were almost put there as a novelty like, “check these crazy South Africans out”, but there’s no more honest place than the dance floor. If you suck, people will not dance or they’ll leave. The great thing about what we do is the instant feedback we get from the audience and that’s what keeps us hooked.

So now that you’ve had more time to settle into San Diego, how would you say you’re absorbing the culture right now and integrating the dance scene there with your own music, if at all?

Dave: It’s interesting how it’s so different between the two coasts. We haven’t been to a country where the different styles of music are completely different. House is big on West Coast and then the rest of the country is trap-based. Colorado-style…Big Gigantic and Griz — that stuff is massive and the rest of the world has never heard of it.

Dom: We’ve never heard of them until someone else said they also had a saxophone player.

Dave: It’s been cool checking out different styles like Louis the Child, Whethan, Louis Futon...

Dom: You go to Ibiza and it’s like techno. We were there for 7-8 years in the summer and spending more time in America was like, woah. You guys are taking the EDM exposure and now you’ve made it your own with trap, bass and future bass music — music which isn’t necessarily applying elsewhere. Our sound is also super different…when we play at festivals it’s like, trap artists, future bass, future bass, future bass, GoldFish, trap, bass artist, end of night.

What can we expect from GoldFish in the next coming months?

Dom: Trap album *laughter*

Dave: We’ll be promoting our new album “Late Night People”. That’ll be our focus for the next 6 months. Lots of cool shows and working on making our shows bigger and better as always.

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