Q&A | Gold Star
Austrian-born, LA-bred Marlon Rabenreither has become a staple in his city through bringing Los Angeles much needed sounds of true Americana - blues, country, and rock n’ roll. Formerly of the Sister Ruby Band, Rabenreither set out on his own in 2013, and has since kept busy through the release of his three albums under the name Gold Star. As he embarks on tour for his latest release, Uppers and Downers - an album of highs and lows that features Cameron Avery of Tame Impala on piano and Cole Alexander and Zumi Rosow of Black Lips - we caught up with the artist to talk about recording in the historic Valentine Studios, those that have influenced him, and what to look forward to this year.
First off, how did the name Gold Star come to be?
Gold Star Studios was a recording studio from the 50’s based in Hollywood. It’s really associated with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys and famously Phil Spector as well, but I always liked how the name could be interpreted in so many different ways.
What drove you to make music?
I guess for me it wasn’t so much of a conscious decision to become a musician as much as music has always been a part of my life. Music has always fascinated me and even as a kid I always played... l don’t think I had a choice really.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I am writing and recording a new record which I am really thrilled about. I’m probably more excited about this batch of songs then anything I have ever written.
What was the inspiration behind your latest record Uppers and Downers?
I’m inspired by the people and places around me. I often just write about my circumstances at the time... those songs are about my city and my friends. Just a little piece of my life I guess.
Your recording process for your album took place in LA's historic Valentine Studios. Can you tell us about your experience creating in a space where greats like The Beach Boys and Frank Zappa made music?
That studio is a really inspiring environment. There’s no recording studio I have ever been to quite like it- it’s a real time capsule. It’s largely unchanged from the days of Zappa and The Beach Boys. In many ways we set out to make a recording using similar techniques and equipment. That studio has a really particular sound to it, also it’s the coolest looking studio!
As a fan of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club myself, what was it like working with Nicolas Jodoin on Uppers and Downers?
I’m a big BRMC fan myself and that definitely contributed to me wanting to work with Nicolas. He runs Valentine and has become a good friend. He has worked on a lot of cool projects lately- everything from Curtis Harding to Black Lips and The Coat Hangers. He really pushed me to make the songs interesting and worked hard to capture my vision for the record.
Which artists have had an influence on you?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Sharon Van Etten, Sam Evian and Big Thief lately. But I have been influenced by everything from Leonard Cohen to Portishead.
Who is someone you'd like to collaborate with dead or alive?
Any plans or ambitions for 2019 you'd like to talk about?
Keep an eye out for the next record!
Photographed by Manuel Mancilla