16 MAY 26, 2006
www.houstonvoice.com HOUSTON VOICE
Singer-songwriter Ari Gold joins 5th annual Aquafest
ARI GOLD, continued from Page 1
Los Angeles, where he is recording tracks
for his third album. "There have been
moments where I've run the risk of people
dismissing my music or dismissing my message because all they see is a sexy image,
and they don't really bother to look further"
Dig just a little deeper, and it's clear that
Gold is passionate — and purposeful —
about his music career. He released his self-
titled debut disc in 2001, an intimate collection of tracks recorded between 1996 and
2000. It went on to earn the 2002 Outmusic
Award for Outstanding Debut CD.
2004's "Space Under Sun" was released
on the singer's own Goldl8 Records and featured production from Desmond Child, who
has worked with everyone from Cher to
Ricky Martin. The disc offered a slick, soulful melange of sounds, capped by the exquisite title track. The song was also included
on "The Katrina CD," a Houston-based benefit disc. (More info at www.katrinacd.com.)
Other standouts on "Space Under Sun"
include "Fan-Tastic," a love letter to
Madonna; "He's On My Team," a cheeky
ode to sexual ambiguity; and a dreamy
cover of Culture Club's "Do You Really
Want to Hurt Me?"
Gold says he is "super-excited" about his
new material. "There's a real sense of direction as far as what I want to say with this
record," he says. "I just feel like it's strong,
and it's growth, and it's a progression."
SINCE THE BEGINNING OF HIS
career, Gold has been showered with
attention from the gay media that quickly
catapulted him to cover-boy status. He
expertly plays the part, often appearing
shirtless in music videos and during live
"In this day and age. with popular
music, it's always a package," Gold says.
"No one really questions how many photos shoots Christina Aguilera or Justin
Timberlake have coming out per week. It's
just sort of part of the job, as far as putting yourself out there."
Gold even released a 96-page coffee-
table book showcasing his stunning
physique late last year. It was shrewdly
accompanied by an EP of remixes.
The EP's first single, "Love Will Take
Over" cracked the top 40 of Billboard's
Club Play chart; and the accompanying
video bumped Madonna out of the top
spot for two weeks on gay cable station
Logo's "Click List" weekly countdown.
For his part, Gold sees the pretty package as part of a bigger ultimate goal.
"I didn't have a gay sex symbol when I
was growing up, a sexy pop star who was
out." he says. "I wasn't able to have that
type of fantasy, and I think that helps us.
We get to fantasize about ourselves, and
we get to see ourselves reflected back. To
me, that's — not to get too therapeutic —
"I did make a conscious choice when I
was first starting to put out a sexy image. I
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was seeing all these random, half-naked boys
in gay magazines — many of whom are
straight models or just people that we don't
really know. Why don't we have some half-
naked boys who are actually doing something, who are actually saying something?"
IT'S A LONG WAY FROM GOLD'S
upbringing as a nice Orthodox Jewish boy.
At age 12, Gold sang back up for Diana
Ross, which he calls, "a huge highlight for
a budding homo like myself." One of his
favorite early gigs, however, was for an
equally fabulous diva.
"I'm very proud of having been a voice
of one of the characters on 'Jem and the
Holograms.' I was actually a huge fan of
the show before I got the call to do the
voice," he says. "I played an 8-year-old
Vietnamese girl. That was, of course,
before my voice changed."
Soon enough, music took shape as the
driving force in Gold's life. He wrote his
first song, "Experienced Girl," as a teenager about someone he was dating at the
time. The pair are still close, though both
eventually came out of the closet. Guess
we all go through phases.
Personal experience continues to
inform Gold's songwriting to this day.
"There are times when I embellish things
for the sake of drama, and there are times
when you might change some details around
or... you sometimes have to fit things to best
serve what you're trying to say" Gold says.
"But it actually is all very personal."
After graduating from New York
University Gold began to gig around the city
hoping to land a major-label deal. As hard a
task as that is for mainstream singers, being
openly gay and writing about it makes
the quest all the more challenging.
"I don't know if I thought that much
about how it would be responded to. Once
I did start recording and playing for people, that's when I got reactions both
positive and negative," Gold says.
"I try now to surround myself with people who understand what it is I'm trying to
do and understand my vision, to create a
supportive environment around me.
Even so, Gold recently ran into an
unexpected roadblock when a producer on
his forthcoming disc expressed discomfort
with the subject matter of a song.
"I was a little shocked. I thought I was
past this point in my career. I don't apologize anymore," Gold says.
"When I was 16 and closeted and dating
girls, I was not writing about being gay I
was writing about experienced girls. But as
soon as I left high school — Yeshiva, which
is a Jewish parochial school — I came out I
continued to write songs ... about what was
going on in my life, which is exactly what
I've been doing since I was 16.
"That makes sense to me. As a songwriter, as an artist, you write from the
truth of your experience."