Analogue Music | Gold Dime

Gold Dime

By Matt Conner

The distance between the songs as imagined and recorded can be vast.

Fortunately for Andrya Ambro and the rest of Gold Dime, the band's latest art rock offering came out just as she'd hoped. Together with bassist Ian Douglas-Moore and guitarist John Bohannon, Ambro came away from the sessions for My House with a captivating set of songs that defy any and all convention.

For those who've followed Ambro from her Talk Normal days, you'd certainly expect nothing less. The noise rock duo earned critical acclaim earlier this decade with albums like Sugarland and Sunshine. Now with Gold Dime, Ambro has taken over complete control, as heard on 2017's Nerves, and then relaxed a bit again with My House.

We recently sat down with Ambro to hear about the creative processes at work on My House and what she's learned about herself along the way.

Analogue: I know for your last album, you made it clear in your own press that you wanted ultimate creative control. Looking back, did taking hold of everything yield what you wanted?

Andrya Ambro: It was really good for me to do to know that I could do all of that—teach myself guitar, write it, teach it to other people, who were also so willing. That was shocking to me. I didn't understand that. I learned so much, but it was so time consuming. I'm glad I did that, but I always went in wanting to open it up to other people.

At the same time, like I said, so many people were willing to play what I wrote, so I just kept going like that. It's not their fault. I was just like, 'Okay well, things seem to be going all right.' I would make charts. I can notate music, so for some people I would write it out in a more text-based form. It was just excessive. [Laughs]

'My House' cover art
'My House' cover art

Analogue: But that's what you wanted in a way, right?

Andrya: It was both what I wanted and I realized it was good for me, but at the same time, I did initially go into this wanting someone to contribute in a bigger way. If it made sense, I was always open to that. But I guess it never made sense. Or maybe something made sense, but I pushed people away. Maybe we never necessarily talked about that.

Analogue: You said you learned so much earlier. What were those lessons learned?

Andrya: Well, positive things like I can write on guitar, I can write bass parts, and they can be good. That was important for me. I did realize also that if I just continue to do all of this, everyone will keep rotating. I did learn that, too. I would say that's the gist of it. I also learned that I can't maintain that. It just takes too long.

Analogue: Beyond the time, I'm curious if it stole some of the joy of making music?

Andrya: I guess it gets overwhelming, a little bit more. But at the same time, I'm a person who can practice something forever. There's something of a strange joy to that obsessiveness. I've realized sometimes it is what it is, but at the same time, I do like it. As a teenager, I'm classically trained, but I would sit in the basement for nine hours and work on stuff. It is an obsessive compulsiveness, which is a good and a bad thing. I understand.

Analogue: Was there a lot of consideration on your part to know how much of that ethos to keep from the first time around and how much to let loose?

Andrya: A few of the songs I did write entirely in the way I wrote the first one. Everyone does add their own thing, but on a bunch of those songs, too, we started to jam ideas and then maybe I'd record those and then I'll lay down drums. Then I'd pass it off to the bass player and I would rearrange all his bass parts. Maybe I would then work separately with the guitar player and say, 'I like that idea. Why don't you try this and see if it works separately?' We'd build arrangements like that, but it would start from a jam, which I'd never really started like that with anyone else before.

Analogue: What are you most proud of on My House?

Andrya: It came out how I wanted it to come out. I think that's hard in the process of mixing a little bit. It's how I imagined the songs, so I feel very good about that. I like all the songs so much and how it came out. I'm proud that we did do it all working in new processes in a relatively short amount of time. Yeah, I think it's really good music, too. How do I say that? [Laughs]

Analogue: Has that been hard to achieve in the past, to have it turn out as you imagined?

Andrya: I fight to achieve that and this one came closer to the first. That's all I'll say in that regard. I always work intensely with the mixer and it all goes on for way too long. This person, Ernie Indradat, was so patient and giving, so I feel like I was able to really get to that. And also Sarah Register, who mastered it, there's lots of things you can do with mastering and she was incredibly giving of her talents as well.

Analogue: The way you were talking makes me wonder if you'd identify yourself as difficult to work with?

Andrya: I'm sure some people would probably think that. [Laughs] As much as I am privately obsessive compulsive and perhaps can't let things go, I do operate in the world and I don't put that on people in a way that's heavy. Maybe it's heavy, but I'm extremely conscious of it. I do know what's too much for people, even though I'll continue that way for myself. So I'm sure some people think I'm difficult but I think that a lot of people don't think that at all. The people who don't think that are probably aware that I'm extremely particular, as are some of them, too.

Analogue: That probably leads to great art or meaningful art, wouldn't you say? Even if you were talking outside of yourself?

Andrya: Well it feels weird to say, 'This is great art.' In the scheme of life, yes I would say that's what makes great art sometimes. [Laughs]

Analogue: How are the new songs working out in the live setting?

Andrya: Everyone works a little bit differently, but I always workshop songs live before we record. So we've been playing these for a little while, so they sound great. [Laughs] You should hear our new, new songs. By the time it gets to you, I've been playing them for a while.

Analogue: Something else is already on the horizon, then?

Andrya: Oh, yeah, a year ago I was working on new stuff. It's just the process of getting stuff out that takes so long sometimes. So we're already working on it in a more collaborative way.

Analogue: Beyond the upcoming spring tour dates, what else is in line for 2020?

Andrya: I think we might do Europe in the fall and then I'm playing New York shows and writing new stuff.

VISIT: Gold Dime