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Berge Sahakian or as he’s better known as Goldcap draws inspiration from almost anything; art, music, poetry, different cultures, films, soundscapes and nature. During his youth, he picked up instruments like the electric/acoustic guitar, bass guitar, classical piano, and various different percussive instruments which tuned his musical ear from a tender age. All the inspiration that goes into his work creates a well-crafted organic electronic sound experience that immediately takes us on a trip around the globe. You are immediately transported from the desert to the jungle to the beach when you put on one of these records and especially during this pandemic, we are truly grateful for that getaway. A line-up regular on Burning Man and some of the best festivals around the world, currently hosting his Goldcast show on Soundcloud, let’s get to know Berge Sahakian a little better…
How did your connection to world music start? In earlier interviews you’ve said you were inspired by classical, gospel, rock, funk, rap, jazz, blues, world music from all decades and regions, even film scores, poetry readings, and everything in between, but how did you exactly reach the point of wanting to mix world music with electronic music and make that your sound?
It’s true, I have an appreciation for and draw inspiration from many different artistic sources. My music listening time is 95% dedicated to non-electronic music. I feel this way allows me to focus on different approaches to my own music production. My goal with “my sound” has always been to educate the average listener with a sort of historical guide to cultural music. Most people don’t have the time or resources to research lesser-known genres of music from many different decades. So I fuse these vastly dynamic ethnic sounds with electronic music in hopes that when someone hears a Romanian folk song for example, that another person will inform them of what it is, and if that person ends up researching Romanian music, then I consider that a success. In my mind, the music of old being forgotten by our generation is similar to burning books, so this is my humble way of preserving it and keeping appreciation for it in some way
Which ethnic musical instrument do you find yourself using in your productions the most?
It’s difficult to say, as I have a collection of instruments from around the world that is easy over 100 pieces now. Each one calls to me at different moments when I make music, as if they were always meant to be included in a particular song. Most are still waiting for their big debut in my published works though. I can say that I recently acquired a beautiful hybrid version of an Afghani/Persian Robab crafted by 2 very special luthiers, and I’m looking forward to having it in one of my upcoming works.
Burning man has the perfect environment for your type of sound. How was it DJ’ing at Burning man and has the Burning man experience changed you in any way as an artist?
I’ve noticed many people refer to my style as “Burning Man music”, which is fine because it’s nice to know there is a gathering place where this type of music is embraced with open arms. But really, Burning Man never had a specific sound, in the years before I attended, the music was actually vastly different from what I have heard from friends who have been going for decades. I remember my first year, I had no idea if people would even like what I was doing. But fortunately, many other artists who play music similar to me also performed some unforgettable sets which were published on streaming sites, and it sort of became a new staple in the many sounds of Burning Man. That gathering didn’t “change” me, but from the moment I stepped foot on the playa, I just kind of felt at home and in my natural element. I look forward to being back in that magical lakebed city with all its special inhabitants.
I’m sure with your very colorful career this one’s going to be a little hard but what was your most memorable DJ experience?
That’s definitely not something I can answer. I can only say that I’ve been truly fortunate to have been given the chance to perform the music I love in so many special and unforgettable locations.
What’s your favorite non-electronic music genre to switch to on a day where you’re not working?
That is also difficult to answer, as I listen to music which is a reflection of how I’m feeling in that particular moment. So its everything from Ravi Shankar, to Oum Kalthoum. But that being said, I have been listening to a lot of rock music these last few months, strengthening my longtime connections to bands like Pink Floyd, Santana, Tool, The Doors, Dredg, Puscifer, and many others.
Music evokes so many different emotions in people. What would you want your audience to feel when listening to your tracks or sets?
As they say, “Art is subjective”, so as long as people feel something, I would consider that a success.
You must have had many gigs where the vibe and crowd were amazing but was there a DJ set where you felt most connected to your audience?
Every DJ and live performer can tell you that there is a clear moment during a show where you know for a fact that the whole room and yourself are locked into the same energetic flow. That’s a really magical place to be. When everything your throwing at the audience is being fully understood and gives you the freedom to experiment a bit more and push the boundaries, which for an eclectic artist like myself, is a blessing. It’s in moments like that where I feel comfortable enough to go wild and do things like mashing up classical music with a techno beat, or gypsy strings on minimal downtempo grooves.
If you had to play B2B name a DJ you’d love to B2B with (it has to be someone who you haven’t played B2B with yet)?
Obviously, I cherish every b2b I’ve done with all the wonderful souls I’ve had the pleasure to call friends and family. From my duo project with Sabo to a 16 hour set with LUM, to gorgeous sunrises with Eduardo Castillo. If I had to choose a b2b with someone who I haven’t performed with yet it would probably be Martin Gretschmann, also known as Acid Pauli. I consider him to be a wonderful human being, as well as a truly unique and talented artist. And if I could collaborate with anyone from the non-electronic music world it would definitely be Maynard James Keenan, who has been one of the most inspirational and important artists in my life since I was 14.
Have you been able to create music during the pandemic? If yes, how have you managed to get inspired?
It’s no secret that this pandemic has affected all of us in different ways. For me, my inspiration in music has suffered throughout the last year. I am already a very emotional mess when it comes to my different creative outlets, so I don’t fight these waves of inspiration and non-inspiration. Instead, I channel it into poetry, or art, or cooking until the musical inspiration comes back to me. Making music is sacred to me and not something I would ever force if it’s not coming out organically.
After a huge gig do you continue to an after-party or do you have a wind-down routine?
Many people can attest to the fact that I’m not much for afterparties. I would rather spend the rest of the night with a few special people having deep conversations and meaningful journeys. Either that or just head back to my hotel and watch a movie by myself.
Is there a dark side to the music/nightlife industry that you’ve personally experienced? If yes, could you tell us a little more about that?
Like any aspect of life, there is always a light side and a dark side. Balance is key in life. I gravitate to dark sometimes to serves a valuable or productive purpose. Unfortunately, the dark side of the nightlife which upsets me has nothing to do with that type of darkness, and more to do with overly aggressive men pestering, and sometimes harassing women on the dance floor who really just want to dance without being bothered. Even though the majority of people who listen to my kind of music aren’t the type of individuals to do such things, there are always a few who happen to infiltrate the community and engage in those types of behaviors. Hopefully, that is put to a stop through education and enlightenment, and we can be an even better example for the nightlife of all different musical gatherings around the world.
Even during bad times, there is always something good that comes out of it, in your opinion what is the silver lining from this pandemic for the music/nightlife industry?
The first few months of the pandemic were pretty heart-wrenching, but I feel that most people after a little while we’re aware of the fact that this is valuable time not to be taken for granted. An opportunity to grow and achieve great things, or at least prepare yourself to achieve great things when things slowly regress to normalcy. I myself took the time to reconnect with friends and family, the relationships which had suffered from the years of being on tour. Most people gather on weekends, and unfortunately, I work mostly on weekends. So that meant a lot of missed weddings, birthdays, or even a regular barbecue at a friend’s house. So, this pandemic gave me a wonderful chance to be with some very special people and share some wonderful physical and mental trips together. A lot of portals were opened over the last year, and I’m grateful for every one of them.
Many people have resorted to baking banana bread during this pandemic, have you picked up any new hobbies during the pandemic?
I spent a lot of time building my new home and studio space, which took a lot of time, so the pandemic came at an ideal time for me. Other than that, I spent this time making art, writing poetry, reading, and refining my culinary skills. I would hope most people did more than learn to make banana bread, but even if so, I love banana bread, so good for you!
Finally, if you didn’t end up becoming a DJ/producer, what career path do you think you’d find yourself in?
Hmm, I would most likely be an artist, as I went to school for traditional and graphic design. Art has always had a special place in my heart, just another creative outlet, like music, poetry, or cooking. But even if my career was as an artist or something like that, I would still be making music in my spare time, just as I make art in my spare time now. Fortunately, music has worked out for me so far, and I’m very thankful for that, so it’s my life’s purpose to be at service to people in that way.
Goldcap currently hosts his own show called The Goldcast on Soundcloud where he invites various artists to record guest mixes for the show. If you love tribal sounds and experiencing different lands sonically, you can check the show out here