Gold Light’s “Bloom” is a satisfying blend of anxious hallucination and earnest pop. “Bloom” utilizes a two-chord structure throughout it which is mirrored by singer Joe Chang’s repetition of the vowel tones. The end result is somewhere between Bo Diddley, Lou Reed, and The Yummy Fur. The song’s central tension comes to a head with Chang urging “You comfort me I’ll comfort you, / you come for me I’ll come for you” before a parting percussive reflection punctuates the song. Chang joined me for a brief chat about language poetry, inspiration, and community.
Buy Visions by Gold Light here.
SC: “Bloom” repeats the sounds “-oo” and “-ai” sound throughout the composition as rhymes and internal sonic texturing. Can you tell me about that choice?
JC: Yeah a lot of it comes from me just being a fan of language and having fun playing around with it, be it the sounds words make (rhyming) or alliteration, or sometimes even just nonsensical usage. Bloom was an especially fun one and exaggerates that a lot, it purposefully plays around with words more than other songs. I remember Johnnie Matthews and I recording that one and we'd just laugh at how many oo's and ai's there were, it got kind of ridiculous . . . like that line "you parlez-vous? I party too", we just thought it was silly, and made no sense, but it's actually in itself also kind of a play on language, because it asks, (in a foreign language, nonetheless), "do you speak?" and the response is, essentially, "Yeah, I like to have fun as well".
Also sometimes when it comes to songs, I like to see how many words I can fit into one breathe, it's kind of a fun/slightly masochistic breathing game I play against myself. Plus the song itself is about getting high and hallucinating, so the run on sentences/stream of consciousness lyrics work for the subject matter as well.
SC: Your work has a lovely tension between wordplay—“rows of roses” or “along in the tooth”, etc.—and confessional narratives. Can you tell me about how you view this tension in your work?
JC: I feel like at a song's base, I'm always telling some sort of a story first. The tension is kind of just to make it interesting, at least what I was talking about having fun with language, wordplay.. But I feel like in the overall arc, there's always a narrative there, with whatever words I'm using. This album's attempt at a narrative is the cycle of love, done through recurring imagery like the metaphors of flowers and seasons and myths (Lazarus, etc).. Love dies and is resurrected (Union, Grey Eyes), it's tangible but also elusive (Arm's Length), it's dividing but also redeeming (Visions, Destiny).
JC: I think this album especially was very confessional, but done in a very specific, personal, almost secretive way. I'm not sure that everyone really gets what I'm talking about half the time, as there are lots of things that have more than one meaning. Which opposes the first album, or more recent songs I've been writing, which are also very confessional narratives, but done in a very straight talking manner.
SC: Can you tell me about your writing process? Do you wait for inspiration? Or do you write on a schedule?
JC: It's pretty sporadic, and kind of depends on the song. I'll sit down to write a song, and nothing will come out for hours, and then sometimes I'll just be sitting at work, and an entire song will form itself in my mind from start to finish within 15 minutes. So yeah, inspiration, at least for me, is fairly elusive. I would say I tend to be very particular when forming the lyrics though. Even choosing the most mundane of words, "the" or "and" or "but" makes a very big difference.. I think Mark Twain said choosing the right word to use is like choosing the difference between "lightning" and "lightning bug". Though I also have a ton and ton of lyrics I keep in storage that I'll just cycle back through and sometimes if I'm having trouble writing I'll go back in and pick and choose from here and there, and songs will get written that way. Like I'll have this song that I don't think is very strong from years and years ago, but it's got one or two lines that find themselves getting put into a newer, better song.
SC: How does your community of songwriters inspire you?
A lot, I'd say. I think the best thing about creating anything is the inspiration it gives others, at least that's the biggest thing I take away from things I see or hear or watch. And I'm very lucky to have a good community of friends who are creating stuff all the time who inspire me, not just with their work, but who they are as people too. And being in Charleston, there's no shortage of good songwriters, so it's hard not to be inspired.
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