Q&A: Louise Goffin on New LP, PledgeMusic Campaign
Photo by Amanda Bjorn
After releasing four records over 23 years on three different major labels, Louise Goffin decided to take matters into her own hands and become an independent artist in 2008, when she launched her own record label. Her forthcoming album, "All These Hellos," is currently being crowdfunded through PledgeMusic.
The singer/songwriter has eight previous entries in her catalog, with the first being 1979's "Kid Blue." The daughter of Carole King and the late Gerry Goffin has had quite the career. Her first recording credits came as a backing vocalist on King's albums "Really Rosie" (1975) and "Simple Things" (1977). Her first performance was as support for Jackson Browne, and she's been a side-woman for artists like Bryan Ferry and Tears for Fears. And it was my pleasure to interview the multi-instrumentalist for this story via email.
Ben Province: "All These Hellos" will be the fifth album you released independently on your label, Majority of One. You've been releasing music that way for 10 years now. Does that approach give you more freedom as a performer and songwriter?
Louise Goffin: Absolutely. I had so much I wanted to do, and I’ve never been good at waiting for others to give me permission to shine. I’d rather get the music out and let people find it than sit on the other side of a desk praying one person gets it. The world has changed so much with streaming. Now, literally anybody can get their music out.
BP: And you recently launched a PledgeMusic campaign to fund the record. How important is a service like that for an artist who wants to take more control of their art?
LG: I put the record on PledgeMusic to allow fans to be able to get physical copies of the album, both in vinyl and CD. And the process of letting people see behind the scenes is one I enjoy. As for funding the record, this crowdfunding campaign couldn’t come close to funding the making of "All These Hellos." The whole thing could never have happened had I not had an investor who backed me making the record I wanted with the team I wanted.
BP: The song you released in April, the title track, sonically, has a laid-back feel that seems to reflect your Laurel Canyon roots. How did that era of music you grew up listening to in the '70s impact the music you make now?
LG: I think the era of music we all grow up in, particularly adolescence, seeps deep into our pours. What goes in comes out. A [bit] like sweating!
George Harrison['s] "All Things Must Pass," Led Zeppelin['s] "Houses of The Holy," David Bowie['s] "Hunky Dory," James Taylor['s] "Sweet Baby James," The Beatles and Paul McCartney solo records and Wings records, Sly and The Family Stone, CSNY. Aretha Franklin. Joni Mitchell. Fleetwood Mac. I drank those records like they were magic potions. I got away from it once I was in the world of record companies, but in my mid-to-late 20s, the songs started to get back to storytelling, and still I was trying to figure out how to make the records I wanted to make. I had a lot to learn, and paid my dues to get back to the sound that inspired me in the first place.
BP: The most recent single from the forthcoming LP, "Is It Too Late To Hold On Tight," seems like a personal one. Can you talk about how you process subjects like the ones in this song through songwriting?
LG: That song isn’t on the new album. I wrote “Is It Too Late To Hold On Tight” with producer/songwriter Scott Robinson after "All These Hellos" was mastered. I loved it so much I decided to release it as a stand-alone single and video.
BP: One of my all-time favorite quotes is when John Lennon said he and Paul McCartney wanted to be "the Goffin-King of England." I'm not sure there's a better endorsement that could be given to the work your mom and dad did as songwriters. I'm sure there's many lessons you've learned from them about making music, but is there one in particular that stands out?
LG: Economy is a big one. Everything matters, so only put in what tells the story, sings well and has authenticity. A strong melody and lyric transcends just about everything else. Even eras. People still love songs written 50 years ago, because great songs don’t date.
BP: Your career really started at a young age: singing background vocals on your mom's albums as a teenager and opening for Jackson Browne at the Troubaduor at 17. Did you know back then that if you wanted to become a great songwriter, you needed to surround yourself with other great songwriters?
LG: I probably did. I know that when I was around great songwriters, I was hungry to learn as much as possible.
BP: After your first three albums (released from 1979-88), you waited until 2002 to release another LP, "Sometimes A Circle," on Dreamworks. Why the hiatus?
LG: I made an album in ’91 that was never released. And then after living in London for 10 years, I moved back to Laurel Canyon, so there was a lot of transition and upheaval. I got a deal with Dreamworks in 1999, and spent most of the '90s writing and demoing songs, some of which ended up on “Sometimes A Circle.” “The Last Time I Saw My Sister” was written in the mid-90s and never came out on a record. Dreamworks didn’t release “Sometimes A Circle” for two years, waiting until they had the window to promote it to radio, which they did in 2002.
BP: Shortly after you resumed your recording career, you tracked vocals on a song that's arguably the most recognizable in your discography, a re-recorded version of "Where You Lead" with your mom, the "Gilmore Girls" theme song. Did you have any idea that show would become as popular as it has?
LG: I had no idea it would become a hit show. When my mom asked me to duet on it with her, she even cautioned me that it was a pilot and that I should be prepared for nothing to ever come of it. And then I was so busy taking care of my newborn baby and making and releasing my Dreamworks record, I didn’t even know it had become a hit! I was never much of a television-watcher. At least not until streaming, when I could watch shows on demand. That’s when I caught up on "Gilmore Girls"!
BP: Fast-forward a few years to 2008, and you launch Majority of One. What inspired you to start your own label?
LG: I was performing my songs on tour, and I had no product to sell at gigs. Boom! I had masters I’d been working on slowly between being a mom to my two young boys, and I put them together to make up "Bad Little Animals."
BP: You produced your mom's 2011 Christmas album, "Holiday Carole," which was Grammy-nominated. How proud are you of that album?
LG: Extremely proud! So many great tracks on it. Years go by that I don’t hear it, and then I listen to “My Favorite Things,” “Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday,” “New Year’s Day,” “Christmas Paradise,” and I’m like ... 'I forgot how good this record is!'
BP: You worked with Alice Cooper on your 2014 song "Watching the Sky Turn Blue." How did that come about?
LG: I wouldn’t describe it as working with Alice Cooper; I think it’s more accurate to say I gate-crashed his session and then recruited him and his Hollywood Vampires to come upstairs to the studio where I was recording and sing background vocals on my song.
BP: If you could give an aspiring songwriter one piece of advice, what would it be?
LG: If you write songs you like to be around, they’ll take care of you. If you write songs you don’t like hanging out with, the good ones won’t know where to find you.
Visit her PledgeMusic campaign page for exclusive offers that are available for a limited time, here.