I was first introduced to the music of Goldkey, the musical alias of NYC-based singer-songwriter Mike Horn, early last year with his impressive, acoustic-driven indie single "Faster." Ending the period of musical silence, Goldkey recently released his new single, "Rabbit Hole," and now follows up with Background, his stunning debut EP which thematically focuses on the quest to find the calm amidst the chaos. Mike elaborates to SoundThread, "The EP is called Background since it is in reference to the constant search to finding a peaceful space without all the noises inside of our head. A lot of themes on the record are surrounding battles with anxiety."
With the Goldkey project, Mike has explored a variety of styles in the music he's created since early 2017 - including scrapping an entire album's worth of new tunes in the early days, to exploring a subtle electronic sound (with his single, "What Am I Supposed To Do?"), and working with Degraw Sound's Ben Rice to create and produce the stunning singles, "Mountain" and "Faster."
With Background, Mike sought to explore a sound that was a bit more raw than his previous recordings. He explains, "This time around, I went back to basics and went for more of a lo-fi, less polished sound. I recorded with my amazing friend/musician/producer Evan Wright at his Barn in Flemington, NJ (the middle of nowhere). It was pretty refreshing to get out there with a clear head and go in with a mindset of completing an idea then moving forward." Mike points out, "I loved the time spent with Ben Rice at Degraw and will most definitely record more music there in the future, but sometimes recording in a different environment with a new producer changes the headspace a bit and allows you to tap into other areas in the arsenal that you didn't know you were capable of. I think that happened on this EP."
Despite the somewhat lengthy gap between musical releases from Goldkey, the recording process surrounding Background was anything other than an extended journey, "We completed 5 songs in 4 full days of work. Pretty unheard of for me," Mike remarks. "It was definitely an adventure to just go into a room for 4 days (two consecutive weekends) and just crank this out. I think if you go into it with the mindset of 'move fast, make decisions, commit to them and move on,' then you'd be surprised how fast things can move." Noting that the demos for Background were more finished than those in the past, Mike remarks, "It allowed us to cherry pick, work quickly and throw away/add as needed. When recording my singles in the past, I never really put heavy emphasis on getting it done. It was always a lot of trial and error and taking the time to get it 'perfect.' But what does 'perfect' mean exactly? - food for thought."
The five tracks of Background present Goldkey's accessible and engaging musical style and production, scored by Mike's solid, ultra-smooth vocals that transition between up-front-in-the-mix to background (no pun intended!) with polished harmony and range throughout. Background's predominantly guitar-driven tracks are sprinkled with delicate arpeggios, cleverly-placed string bends ("Rabbit Hole"), and perfect levels of reverb and delay ("Galaxy"). I hear influences of Lindsey Buckingham ("Afraid To Love"), and subtle elements of America, George Harrison and The Byrds on the stellar-sounding "Rabbit Hole." This chill, relaxed EP neatly flows from start to finish, with a soothing, atmospheric undercurrent that embeds a warm depth throughout the tracks.
Mike tells SoundThread that an EP release show is in the planning stages for this Fall, so if you're in the NYC area, keep an eye out for news about that!