30 seconds interview: Golden Suits

Golden SuitsThe songs of Golden Suits are oddly familiar. It’s something to do with the way he threads classic pop with bare-all folk yarns and rustic beats. Then the penny drops: Golden Suits, aka Fred Nicolaus, is one half of Department of Eagles alongside Daniel Rossen (who went on to form Grizzly Bear).

Together they elevated their early dorm-room beats-and-sample template into three classic albums, including earthy longplayer In Ear Park for 4AD. It was that expansive record that thrust the pair into the international spotlight, and has done much to inform Fred’s solo work as Golden Suits.

His debut eponymous solo album was released last month and is the product of two years’ graft. Echoing the classic pop of Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks and Paul Simon, it’s a tight set, wrought with big choruses and affectionate lyricism.

Fred, who generally wrote the simpler, poppier material in Department of Eagles, indulges in production ideas that perhaps wouldn’t have fitted with his old band’s ethos, perfectly illustrated by gems such as the Graceland-inspired Swimming in ’99 or the unadorned piano ballad feel of Restaurant Song.

Although Fred played most of the instruments, he had help from friends including Chris Bear and Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear, Becca Kauffman and Felicia Douglass from Ava Luna and Eagles cohort Daniel, who sang harmonies.

We spend 30 seconds with Fred – a self-confessed ‘less-attractive alternative to Mumford & Sons’ – to find out why he used to be addicted to sampling controversial author and activist Salman Rushdie.

I first started writing music because…
Because I erroneously thought it would make me cooler in high school.

I have been making music since…
I was fourteen, and sampling a Salman Rushdie audiobook with a crappy tape recorder.

My music is…
Tender.

You’ll like me if you listen to…
Mumford & Sons, but you’ve always wanted a less professional, less attractive alternative.

My favourite venue is…
The Bowery Ballroom in New York. Big enough to feel exciting, small enough to feel intimate.

Music is important because…
I actually think music is pretty unimportant and frivolous. Which is why it’s great.

My biggest inspiration is…
Randy Newman, who built a multi-decade career out of being a cynical nerd.

My dream collaboration would be…
Randy Newman.

To try me out, listen to my song…
Swimming in ’99.

In 10 years time I want to be…
Alive!

http://goldensuits.com/