Hartley Goldstein's bio starts with, "Hartley Goldstein is a Jew. Thanks for asking." He is also, however, many other things. Among them are: a 24 year old, a NYC native, a music reviewer, and a musician. We're here to discuss the latter.
Goldstein's debut EP is titled, Songs In the Key of Zoloft and features his unique mixture of anxious neurotic pop and meta-folk. It also includes one of our favorite songs, "A Love Song for Annie Hall". The ep was produced by Adam Lasus, he also produced that Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah cd that everyone is talking about.
You can catch Hartley live all through October for FREE! His residencey begins this coming Sunday and runs every Sunday in October at Pianos. More details after the interview.
Is Hartley Goldstein your real name?
Absolutely. In fact, it was my father’s name too. I’m actually a Junior. I find it great that it’s a rather unambiguous name as well. It would be an understatement to say it’s quite Jewish, and there was no way when it came time to put out my songs that I was going to change it. My name is kind of a rebellion to the culture of fakers we’re currently all surrounded by, while also trying to stir up some of the preconceptions of being a New York City “Jew.” You’d be surprised how much crap a name can cause.
What is your first conscious memory of living in New York?
Man, my “first conscious memory”!? I can barely remember what I had last night for dinner, no less what I was doing when I was like 2. That said, I do remember getting driven to Nursery School across the park (Central Park) quite vividly. Must’ve been 2 or 3 or something. And this one day, my parent’s car was in the shop so they had this loner they were driving. And, of course, 2-year old me starts exploring all the fun to be had in this strange car. No sooner had I pulled down the center arm-rest, had I come upon a funny little blue packet. A Trojan Condom. As I asked my mom what it was, both my parent’s started laughing. I stole the condom. For many years, I had no idea what the hell that thing was.
What is your favorite memory involving New York?
Hmm…I don’t think I have a specific memory exactly, but I can say what I love about this place. NYC is like a mindset for me more than anything. It’s funny the skewed perspective of things you get when you live in this city all your life. I had never really known anyone who lived in an actual house before. The whole “suburban” thing was entirely alien. Hell, I had no idea what Abercrombie and Fitch was until a few years ago at college. At home, I thought everything I enjoyed was the cool shit, and other people dug it too. When I left NYC, I found out fast that Elliott Smith records don’t have a prayer on like Ultimate Frisbee! There is an absolute reverence for culture here, you cannot find anywhere else. NYC is in my mind just about the “Anti-America.” We really should just succeed from the US, and have our own damn country. I’m more a New Yorker than an American these days. That’s for sure.
What is your favorite place to drink in NYC, and what's the best night to go out?
My favorite place to drink in this city would absolutely be on my living room floor, preferably with Joao Gilberto’s selftitled album softly playing off in the background. It does not get better than that I tell you. The best night to go out? Of course, Thursday night. The weekend still hangs a bit off in the distance. Anything can happen. It’s all sweet, sweet anticipation.
Do you think your New York connection shows in your music? If so, how?
NYC definitely shows in my music in a multitude of ways. Literally. I mean places like Madison Square Park, Bowery Ballroom, The Upper West Side are directly referenced in my songs. There is also this whole neurotic humor thing that just comes out of living in a city like this. When you are surrounded by demanding people, and you are under 6 feet tall, you learn how to use humor to your advantage pretty quickly. Most of all, though, I think there is an uncharacteristic amount of “directness” in my music that is pure NYC. When most people think of singer-songwriters, they conjure up images of wounded boys in tight pants, singing hushed, inane generalities like: “you broke my heart,” or “come back to me,” or I’m lonely again” etc, and clutching their acoustic guitars from the pain. With even a cursory glance at some of my song-titles (“Art Is A Lie,” “A Love Song For Annie Hall,” “The Street of NYC Are Filled With Rich, Rich Kids”), you can see that there is a certain amount of just cutting all the BS and cliché and just telling a story like it is, or at least how I experience it – straight up. In my song “Art Is A Lie,” I have a line “My boss is a dick and I can’t be creative / my father just died and my mom just told me that she hated him” – that line really captures it all to me. Right off the bat I find it’s rather funny, but it’s also somewhat pathological and pretty jarring. You can’t really tell if I’m fucking with you or not. And that’s NYC living in a nutshell.
Now its time for some fill-in-the-blank action
“You know you’ve made it when….”
When I can get a dinner reservation at Nobu.
“It’ll be time to pack up the gear for good when….”
Well, “Songs In The Key of Zoloft” came out last month…I give myself another month at least.
“I’ll never forget the first time I….”
I spent an hour answering questions about NYC for a Gothamist interview.
Let's have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if you’ve got no discernable feelings, make something up that won’t embarrass you in the morning)
I like her music.
Considering I used to be a staff writer there: 7.2
Bridge & Tunnel
Damn you, gentrification!
Well, he is a Jew….
A few quickies on the music tip
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
What a tough one. Well, it would definitely involve Dj Premier, Shirley Collins, Jonathan Richman, Jack Nitzsche, Augustus Pablo, Jackson C. Frank, Levon Helm, Arthur Russell, Jon Brion, Harry Nillsson, RZA, Billie Holiday,, Eric Carmen of the Raspberries, Pete Townsend, Jimmy Cliff, Michael Hurley, NAS, The Royals on backup vocals, all of Can, and Brian Wilson. It would be a “collective.”
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
The New Pornographers new one…oh wait, no, no the new Kanye record.
What came first, the music or the misery?
The misery. Clearly.
And finally...If Josh Schwartz, creator of the OC, asked your band to perform on his tv show (as Modest Mouse, the Killers and the Walkmen recently have) would you?
No question. Yes. Mischa here’s looking at you.
Hartley Goldstein begins his October residencey at Pianos on Sunday at 9pm, with special guests at each show.
His debut ep is available on Insound.