By Sean Stroh
Singer-songwriter Shilo Gold has always found music to be the one constant element in her life.
In fact, Gold likes to quote a line from “The More Loving One” by W.H. Auden to describe her relationship with it.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
If the synonymous relationship between music and Gold is difficult to understand, one doesn’t need to look far to its origin. She’s not only been composing music since the age of 11 but also fine tuned her musical skills at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
Over the past few years, Gold has released a few singles like “Hit the Road” and “One Life” which showcased her sensual, smoky vocals. Gold’s own description of her music — “if Eva Cassidy and Nina Simone had a musical love child” — perfectly describes the bluesy pop sound in her songs.
Gold’s upcoming EP Sideways Glances is expected to be released May 6 and will be available on iTunes and Spotify.
Coming Up Magazine talked to Shilo Gold about why she performs under a stage name, the experience she had on Disney’s television show “High School Musical: Get in the Picture,” and the development process of her new music video for her latest single “Shoot.”
Why did you decide to go with the stage name “Shilo Gold” instead of your real name Shayna Goldstein?
I decided to go with the name Shilo Gold for one main reason. I was really struggling with separating the love and support I receive as a human, from the love and support I aim to give as an artist. I found that people were coming to see “Shayna Goldstein” perform, rather than to hear the music and the stories I had to give.
I saw that you were on High School Musical: Get in the Picture back in 2008 and made it pretty deep into the show. What was the experience like? Were you glad you did it?
I met some of the most talented people I may ever cross paths with and made some lifelong friends. That being said, to this day it is one of the most challenging experiences I have ever had in my life. Disney is quite the machine, and I had to go almost three months without any communication with family or friends back home. At age 16, that is pretty rough. It was the summer that I taught myself guitar, and it was the summer I made the decision that there was no other path than music for me.
Can you recall where you first paid gig was as “Shilo Gold” and how it went? What was running through your head after the show?
Totally! My first paid show as Shilo Gold was at the Viper Room in Hollywood in June of 2014. I had two background singers that played Tom Toms and painted their eyebrows gold. I had a full band, and I wore red sequins and danced my ass off across the stage. It was invigorating, livening and everything I had ever dreamed. It was nearly a sold out show, and I left my heart on the stage that night! The music has changed a lot since then, but that’s what artists do! We constantly re-invent.
You began composing music at the age of 11. Has music always been something that comes naturally to you?
My dad is a seventh generation Cantor. A Cantor is like a Rabbi, but he sings the entire service. Music is deeply rooted in my blood! I’d been singing with him in synagogue since before I could walk. My parents threw me into classical piano lessons at the age of 4, and even though I dreaded practicing every day… I think it was absolutely the best thing my parents could have done for me and I thank them at every opportunity.
What is a typical “show day” like for you? Do you have a particular set of vocal exercises or maybe a routine you follow before a show?
I would love to say that I do, but honest to god I like to either go for a run or take a yoga class on show days. I also make sure that I have a good dark beer, or bar of dark chocolate waiting for me after the show… and I show up for sound check (laughs).
Do you have any horror stories regarding a particularly bad show or audience?
I have been pretty lucky to say that no matter how shitty a room can be, or how empty… I usually leave connecting with at least one person at the show–even if it is just the bartender.
When do you know a song is complete and ready to be performed? Is there something you look for?
I know a song is complete if I feel relieved after singing it from start to finish. Songwriting is my journal and my deepest outlet to accept any situation. Love, lust, loss, anger… all of the above. If it makes me feel, it is ready to share.
As an artist, what is your opinion on streaming services like Spotify? Yay or nay?
My current stance on streaming music services…is that I use them. Spotify is my most used app on my phone and gives me the opportunity to discover new music, and share my own. The artist in me hurts, because it would be a magical life to have dollars streaming into my pocket every time someone wanted one of my songs… but I look at my music as a gift. I just ask people to share the gift if it speaks to them.
You will be releasing your music video for your single “Shoot” on April 2. What was the creative process like for that video? Did you have an idea in your head that you tried to portray in the video?
I’m so excited about this video! I very much had an idea in mind and the videographer Lee Gumbs is out of this world. I grew up as a dancer and movement really speaks to me. Otherwise, I am a sonic person. Visual forms of expression have never been my strong suit. I was always concerned with branding and consistency because it never felt organic to me. I wear what I like, and sometimes that changes!
I knew the feeling I wanted to portray in the video and had images in my head. I described what I was seeing, and Lee took the concept and literally sent me a video clip one week later saying “Is this what you were envisioning?” I literally collapsed on the floor, and cried as I replayed the 40 second clip about 10 times. He finished shooting the video about one week later and I had a finished piece of art in my hands that I had no idea how I was going to wait to share. I am beyond honored to have the chance to work with such talented people.
Seriously, check this dude out. He is not only an amazing photographer and videographer, but he is a dancer himself. Talent speaks loudly.
What was the lowest point in your musical career so far and how did you overcome it? Was there ever a moment where you thought of leaving music behind for good and getting a “regular” job?
I have felt discouraged many times in my life. I have met with every manager, been fucked over by people I call friends and have experienced glimpses of everything I ever dreamed. Through the ups and the downs, I came to a recent conclusion in my journey as a musician, that may sound a little jaded but I mean it… no one is going to help me and no one is going to do the work for me. If I want to tour, then I will book the shows. If I want to play, then I will bare my soul onstage and hope that at least one person in the audience leaves feeling something! In my darkest times, music is the only thing that helps me find the light.
What would you say to a fellow struggling musician who is thinking about hanging up the guitar and leaving their dreams behind?
I would say that if it makes you happier to rest your hands, and pick up something new then please do it! Go find what it is that lights your fire. But, if you are leaving it behind for fear of being disliked or unrecognized, you should pause and look deep into yourself. Seek out the true reasoning behind why you began playing music in the first place. Find that spark and let that be the reason you keep expressing yourself.
You have four extra seats at the dinner table. Which four musicians–dead or alive–would you invite over and why?
Although that is an incredibly tough question…I would say Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder.
Paul McCartney is one of my heroes. I know every word on every Beatles album.
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant? I mean, come on. Billy can sit at the table but only after he has played for the entire cocktail hour.
As for Ella, I would love to hear stories from many of the live recordings I play on repeat, as well as ask her about what being a woman in the music industry was like at that time.
Lastly, to shake Stevie Wonder’s hand would be an unbelievable honor. Lyrics are what drive my personal songwriting, and not only is this man a musical genius, but his lyrics move my soul.
Oh, and we’d definitely have BBQ for dinner. Just saying.