Morgan Gold, a pop singer-songwriter based in Chicago, is currently revving up for the release of her newest extended play, “I’ve Seen Enough, I Know What It Does.” The ethereal, innovative record will be available for public listening May 10, and Gold is eager for that day to arrive.
“This is definitely the darkest project I’ve ever released, but it feels like all that negative energy is finally coming together, and once it’s released, a huge weight is going to be lifted off my shoulders,” Gold said about the EP coming out. “I don’t think that I’m going to be a dark artist, but this had to be a dark project.”
As a recording artist, Gold has only been around for about a year. However, she has been a musician from a young age, writing music and playing guitar since 10 years old. That being said, her path hasn’t been linear.
“I kind of grew out of it for a little bit as an angsty thing. I became a musical theater student, which is the most least angsty thing ever,” Gold recalls, laughing.
Gold decided to stay in the sphere of stage performance when studying at Columbia College, Chicago. “I came to Columbia as a Comedy major. I wanted to pursue a career in comedy, and then I fell out of love with it as a career.”
Despite her efforts to distance herself from music, Gold felt drawn back. “I kind of woke up one morning and I was like, ‘Why am I not turning this into a career? I’m a great f***ing songwriter, I’m a good f***in’ singer that can become a wonderful f***ing singer. Let’s do this.’”
That was a year ago, and since then Morgan Gold has leaned into her passion, playing multiple shows at local Chicago venues like Sub-T and performing at SXSW 2018 through Columbia’s record label AEMMP Records’ showcase. She has also released her music across platforms like SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple Music, racking up thousands of streams in a short time.
Despite this early momentum, the young singer-songwriter is dead-set on the future. “It’s really overwhelming but it’s also really humbling to know that I just started, and I still have so much further to go. I just want to keep on working harder to get there,” said Gold.
She regards the upcoming release of “I’ve Seen Enough, I Know What It Does” with a mix of excitement and sober realism.
“I don’t want to talk about my goals and dreams and end up sounding egotistical, but, you know, I want to take this as far as I can take it. I want to see how many people I can touch, how many people can be inspired by what I do. I want my music to get so good that it is fit for the highest platforms music has to offer. I hope that this project is a step into that door.”
Now 21, the young artist will enter her final year of college this upcoming fall and hopes to make music her career after graduation.
Camilla Forte: Looking back, how has your time at Columbia shaped you as an artist?
Morgan Gold: All of the people I work with I’ve met through here — of friend’s I’ve made here — and through the community. My producer, J Khaga, I met through the guy who is now my DJ, BoogieKnight. As a student, I like to make fun of Columbia and the program, but my God, I don’t know where I would be without it.
CF: Does your background in comedy affect who you are as an artist?
MG: I’ll tell you what, going to school for comedy has helped my stage presence like you wouldn’t even believe. Having those skills of improv and comedy performance in my back pocket is really useful to pull out, especially when you’re not really sure what a crowd is going to be like. It really helps you keep cool, calm and collected.
CF: How would you describe your performance style?
MG: It’s very personal and energetic. I want to make sure that when I’m up on stage I’m not just singing with a mic. I want to look at the audience and draw people in.
CF: How does Morgan Gold the artist differ from the individual?
MG: They are very interconnected. I love being a music artist because it allows my ego to flourish. I love my ego; its big — it needs to shut the hell up, but it allows me to exercise that confidence when I’m performing. Up on stage I can be confident. I can be confident in the studio, but humble the f*** up during rehearsals.
CF: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
MG: This first thing I say to people is that I’m a pop artist from Chicago. It’s interesting because you don’t think of pop when someone says Chicago music.
Honestly, they think of rap — which is funny ’cause that’s the genre I’m associating myself with the most because all of my producers and all of my collaborators are in that hip-hop field — but at the end of the day I’m a singer, I’m a songwriter.
CF: You’ve talked in past about paving the way for pop in Chicago; what’s your plan for that?
MG: The mission from day one with me and my producer has been to create something as unique as possible. We wanted to do something extremely original. I feel that right now pop has become a little oversaturated with Top 40, which lacks this surrealist kind of approach.
If you listen to a lot of ’80s pop-rock — when that stadium rock was just coming along — those sounds were big, cinematic. That music, it had this sort of spark to it. I feel like pop is missing that right now. I want to take Chicago’s industrial, dark and kind of ethereal energy and put it through a pop filter. Create whole new sound out of it.
CF: What motivates you to do what you do?
MG: I love attention. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be the center of attention, always wanted to be the charmer of the group. It sounds a little ingenuine, but at the end of the day, that’s what it is!
CF: How long has “I’ve Seen Enough, I Know What It Does” been in the works?
MG: My producer and I started really working together August 2018. All of those songs I’ve been writing for, like, a year.
CF: How did you compose “I’ve Seen Enough I Know What It Does”? How did the process look?
MG: I recorded this project with J Khaga in my bedroom and eventually we took it to the studio to master and mix everything. I’m proud to say, though, that everything that we’ve done has basically taken place in someone’s bedroom.
CF: Was it more of a collaborative or individual process?
MG: It started off as an individual project. When I wrote ‘Up All Night,’ that was just me. I produced a very s***ty version on Garage Band and then we reworked that all within a year.
When I started working with J in August, everything became collaborative. Now when I write songs or lyrics, I usually just play them on my guitar, and I’ll show them to J. He’s my executive producer, so he oversees everything I do.
CF: How do you think you’ve progressed as an artist? How does this new EP compare to your past work?
MG: This is the most advanced project I’ve done so far. Production-wise, lyric-wise and performance wise, this is the project I’ve always wanted to make.
I focused on talking about things that make the most sense to me. Not just writing a song for the sake of it being good, but actually writing something that means something to me every time I perform it. I’ve learned how to become more patient and trust in myself, my talent, our process.
CF: What was the inspiration behind the new EP?
MG: I’m a positive person but I have a very dark mindset. At the time I began writing it, I was going through a lot of different changes. I had just discovered how bad my anxiety was. I kind of just suddenly decided at 19 to take on a career that doesn’t have a big chance of happening.
I cut out a whole lot of people and took on some really unhealthy habits. I was really just trying to make sense of who I was and what I was doing. It was just this whole year of me trying to figure everything out but also not know how to work through the stress, impatience and anger. Finally, I was able to just get it on paper one day.
CF: How do you hope your audience will perceive “I’ve seen enough, I know what it does”?
MG: I mean, for one I just want people to think that it’s good, but I really want this to be heard by Chicago and for the city to be like ‘we have a pop artist.’ That’s all I want right now.