Soundtrack To My Life — DZIRAE GOLD Discusses Anticipation and Her New Album, “Right on Time”

Welcome back to 303 Magazine’s “Soundtrack to My Life” series, where we delve into the personal musical journeys of Denver’s most active artists. This month, we’re excited to feature DZIRAE GOLD, a soulful singer-songwriter whose voice has echoed around many of Denver’s music venues. DZIRAE has curated a playlist around the theme of “anticipation,” reflecting the emotions and experiences that have shaped her recent musical endeavors — most prominently the release of her full-length album, Right On Time.

DZIRAE GOLD. All photography courtesy of DZIRAE GOLD.

DZIRAE GOLD’s playlist is a journey through various genres and moods, each track selected to encapsulate the essence of anticipation. From the upbeat grooves of Jungle’s “Cherry” to the smooth, reflective tones of Norah Jones’ “Flipside,” this playlist offers a rich collection of sounds. Join us as we explore DZIRAE GOLD’s musical influences and the stories behind her song choices, offering a glimpse into the anticipation that drives her creative process.

303 Magazine: You chose “anticipation” as the theme for your playlist. What significance does this word hold for you in your musical journey?

DZIRAE GOLD: The month of May was a very anticipatory month for me leading up to the release of my first full-length studio album on May 30th! I think in the world of the arts, there are a few very distinct phases and stages throughout a calendar year and even throughout the life of a single project. Because this recent release has been in the works for nearly four years, it has built up a lot of anticipation within me — often even unsatisfied anticipation as I kept postponing and running into obstacles. This last month was the final stage before the birth of my first major body of work and there were many emotions that accompanied the anticipation.

303: “Cherry” by Jungle opens your playlist. How did this song set the tone for your anticipatory theme?

DG: The opening of that song alone feels like anticipation. It reminds me of the sound of a prize wheel slowing to a halt and I think of the excitement and anticipation of winning something! But the song itself has a beautiful message in my opinion — “You’re never gonna change me, I was already changing.” For me, it speaks to the process of self-development and growth, which, if anyone has experience with creating something from scratch and understands all of the inner and outer work required to see it start to finish, they might be able to relate. “Life won’t grow if we never change.” I can honestly say I’m not the same version of myself I was when I started this thing, or even at the halfway point. There have been many iterations of ‘me’ over the length of this process and countless humbling moments, but it finally feels like I am — or my album, at the very least is — ready to bloom.

303: Your track, “Downtown,” from your new full album, Right on Time is featured in this playlist. Where did you find the inspiration for this song?

DG: I wrote this song upon moving to Denver. It was my first time living in a downtown area, so it was also my first time witnessing and interacting with homelessness on a daily basis. The song is really about that — all the bustling and grinding of the everyday American worker, and honestly, just the observation that at any moment, any one of us could find ourselves equally down on our luck. Well, maybe not ANY of us, but as a full-time gigging musician, it really does feel like a single wrong move could land me and so many of my colleagues in a similar place of misfortune.

303: What song did you discover first, how did you discover it and does it carry the same meaning to you now?

DW: That would be John Legend’s “Stereo.” We go way back to when I owned this album as a CD! I definitely took the song more literally back in the day. I was convinced it was pretty surface, a song about a woman obsessed with chasing fame. I think now, as a self-publishing artist, I see it more so as an opportunity for reflection. “I think I gotta let her go/ She only loves in stereo.” Still somewhat literally, I take it to have a dual meaning. One is that trying to write a hit song or putting my value in whether or not I receive acclaim for my work won’t be fulfilling. Instead, I’ve been focusing on what I feel about my own work. External validation is appreciated but not essential. The other meaning is don’t let people love you exclusively in fair weather! 

303: Black Pumas add a soulful touch to your playlist. Have you found yourself “sipping Sauvignon” over any noteworthy accomplishments?

DG: Absolutely! Coincidentally, Sauvignon Blanc was actually my go-to wine for the studio days when I needed a little something to take the edge off. But I’m a huge proponent of celebrating the little wins! It’s the only thing that really keeps us going. I recently played an amazing show at the Bluebird with Boogie Lights! The community showed up and showed out with incredible energy that night! 

303: If order matters, what’s the significance of “C-Side” as the song to conclude your playlist? If not, when do you find yourself listening to Khruangbin?

DG: Order does matter! My main focus was the flow from one song to the next. I wanted all of it to feel cohesive, but this song feels like the perfect closer to the playlist — both lyrically and vibe-wise. Admittedly, I don’t know what the intention of the title was, but my interpretation is that “C-Side” represents the end of the night, after the music stops, and how good it feels to be with the person or people you love most when the party’s over. Metaphorically speaking, I still haven’t quite made it to this point in the playlist. I am still in full anticipation of that closing moment when I get to sit back, relax, and reflect on all that I hope will unfold in this new chapter with the special people who have blessed me with their presence and contribution.

303: Anticipation can appear positively as well as negatively, as a musician, when has anticipation ever been a source of stress?  How did you or do you cope or learn from those experiences?

DG: Sometimes, all it takes is a slip of a single negative thought for everything to feel simultaneously dire and pointless. I have to fight those thoughts off daily. It’s often when I’m performing something new or more unfamiliar that I allow myself to linger on everything that could go wrong, but I’ve recently been introduced to the practice of asking, “What could go right?” or even more powerfully, “What’s the best that could happen?” rather than the worst. Every day in the studio was a source of stress for me. Between all of the money wrapped up in the project and feeling the pressure to be able to perform at 100%, it was really stressful. And some days I didn’t have it. Some days I couldn’t deliver the song to my own standards and I had to come back another day. But I think that’s been a beautiful lesson in this process: try your hardest today, and if you can’t get it today, come back and try your hardest tomorrow. Even if “tomorrow” has to be in a month because funds are low.

303: Can you describe a moment in your life or career where anticipation played a significant role in your decision-making or creative process?

DG: I’m not the most strategically-minded person. I make decisions primarily based on intuition, and for the most part, that has served me well. But I have written songs that I could sense would be well received based on an upcoming holiday, if that counts. The problem with moving strategically for me is that my heart often isn’t in it. And if I’m not passionate about a project, I have a hard time giving it the attention necessary to see it through.

303: Was there any part of the music-making process that you dreaded for Right on Time? If so, why and how do you approach that?

DG: I had the most fun working with the studio musicians. They were all so talented and intelligent and generally brought a wonderful energy and life into the music. The hardest part was easily the vocal days. Just me and Loren Dorland working away in the studio all day and despite Loren being a wonderful producer, engineer, and friend, I had a very hard time getting past my ego most days. There was a lot of coaching me out of my own way and sometimes it just didn’t take.

303: Was there a song or track from, Right on Time that you especially enjoyed working on?

DG: Oh boy, that’s tough because each song brought something special for me on this journey. But I’d say my favorite track to work on was “If You Do” because I released it as a single a couple of years ago and it became something different this time around. The album version has a jazzy, more sultry, yet still very playful feel to it while the first one has more pop elements and I think it comes off just a bit sassier. I love both, which is why I’ve decided both deserve to live on in the streaming world. 

303: What is your most anticipated musical endeavor following your full album release?

DG: First up, we have an album release event in the works now! It’ll be a Trinity Presents Production on August 18th at Trinity United Methodist Church downtown. This venue feels special because not only does this church really support me financially and otherwise, but I can also accredit much of my musical growth to my involvement with them over the years. I’ve been challenged to perform music I wouldn’t normally and to step into my identity as a black female musician. So I hope folks are able to come out and support me and this amazing community I’m so fortunate to be a part of!

DZIRAE GOLD’s curated playlist and insights into “anticipation” offer a compelling look at the influences and the processes of producing her new album, Right on Time. As she navigated the emotions and experiences tied to this theme, enjoy her specially curated playlist before giving a listen to, Right on Time and checking out her live show on August 18th at Trinity United Methodist Church. Stay tuned for more from this talented artist, as DZIRAE GOLD’s journey is only just beginning, promising more soulful and reflective tunes ahead.

Stay tuned for more updates from DZIRAE GOLD and her upcoming projects. Be sure to like this playlist and follow our Spotify account for more local curations.

Discover more from 303 Magazine

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading