Toby Goodshank: “My strongest and best work…”

Brooklyn-based artist and former member of The Moldy Peaches, Toby Goodshank is coming back with a new LP (on March, 9th).  Dream on Me ”explore(s) compulsive daydreaming, escapism and discorporation as a method of navigating growing pains, mental illness, abuse of power, the death of my parents, being old/out of touch and on the prowl, and feeling invisible.It should be enough for arouse your curiosity… Come on!  You won’t be deceived!   

Scribouille: What do you want to say about this new album, Dream on me?

Toby Goodshank (TG): It took me a long time to finish writing and recording these songs! The entire process took almost three years, ultimately. Life kept getting in the way. Casey Holford produced the album, and was eternally kind and patient with me. I’m really excited by the overall sound of the finished songs, and am happy to be sharing it with friends.

I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do with these songs at the outset of the recording process. I made a few attempts at getting a band together to record them, the failures of which rest squarely on my shoulders. I was indecisive and lacking the confidence to bring people together. It really started sounding like a cohesive album once my friend Sam Hendricks (drummer of Charly Bliss) played drums on eight of the nine songs. He’s amazingly skilled! The ninth song is a Cocorosie cover, and was produced by my friend Stuart Bogie (of the bands Superhuman Happiness and Arcade Fire).

Scribouille: This album has an ambition, that did not have necessarily precedents. Do you agree with this statement?

TG: I don’t agree with that statement insofar as I don’t feel like I’ve reinvented the wheel with these songs. They’re essentially folk rock songs, which in some ways uphold a storytelling tradition as well as having a certain social and spiritual responsibility. All in all, they’re just songs; I think they’re good, some people may agree, and some people probably won’t enjoy them. It’s likely that most people in the world won’t care about them or even hear them!

The unprecedented aspect of this album is personal. I think that this is my strongest and best work thus far. I think I’ve attained a level of honesty and expression on this album that I’ve had difficulty approaching in the past. I’m getting old, and I’m able to articulate my feelings more thoroughly. I’ve had a lot of time to process the life and world events that I hoped to address.

Scribouille: There is something extremely personal in these compositions. Would you say that the experience of life necessarily feeds an artist?

TG: For me, life experience is the only thing I have to build upon! Even if I’m writing as a character, or about an event that I wasn’t directly involved in, those things get filtered through my own mind. I relate those characters or events to things that I’ve experienced, and then they become personal. This album in particular is rooted primarily in events from my life; I wrote a lot about dealing with my parents deaths, about wealthy folks fucking our planet up, people treating each other poorly, feeling like you can’t deal with life and that you’re floating away, the list goes on. It may be different for other musicians and artists, I know Bowie always spoke of themselves as an actor…

Scribouille: After collaborating with so many different projects and artists, is it easy to find your own way? The risk is great to get lost, right?

TG: I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with a lot of friends who encourage individuality. In the band Moldy Peaches, we all made solo music and we would often play shows where we would each play a set opening for our own band. Also, our various costume choices on stage together put a spotlight on our unique personalities. When I play with Darwin Deez and we do dance routines between songs, Darwin likes that I don’t do the dances perfectly and that I just do them as best I can, in a way that showcases my personality. In Pizza Underground, I was really encouraged to explore any individual ideas that might make the overall show more fun. I hope that other musicians find themselves in similar situations, it’s really wonderful to play with your friends!

Scribouille: Who were your musical idols in adolescence?

TG: There are too many to name them all! The Breeders’ bassist Josephine Wiggs had a solo album called Bon Bon Lifestyle that remains one of my all-time favorites. Mary Timony and the band Helium had an album called Magic City that still blows my mind, and was crucial to me surviving my late teens. The album Bruiser Queen by the band Cake Like was and is incredibly important to me. All my friends know how I adore The Frogs; I’m even writing a book about them, very slowly…

Scribouille: Isn’t it difficult for you to be still affiliated with the antifolk movement? Is this a chance or a problem?

TG: There’s been no difficulty for me to be associated with antifolk. The term really refers to a social group of which I was a member. I met so many like-minded and amazing artists and friends through my association with antifolk and Sidewalk Cafe in NYC. Our musical styles all differed in some ways, and my learning experiences there spanned many years. It was a beautiful moment in time for me. I’m still in touch with many of those friends, thankfully. I think the difficulty comes when needing to explain to a person unfamiliar with the term antifolk that it doesn’t necessarily refer to a musical style or sound, but rather a time/place/group of friends.

Scribouille: This album, is it the continuation of the story or the beginning of something else?

TG: This album is certainly a continuation of my story, and hopefully I’ll begin making something else right away! I’m currently drawing a graphic novel with Adam Green and Thomas Bayne, so I know what my immediate future holds. We’re out here in Carroll Gardens covered in pencil shavings, drinking Coors Light and listening to Scott Walker’s Til The Band Comes In!

Scribouille: My last word will be « covfefe » (a philosphical concept). What will be yours? I need you to be sincere…

TG: All that the word « covfefe » makes me think of is the savagery of Trump’s many idiotic moments, to paraphrase Billy Jack.

Scribouille: Thank Toby. Great job.

TG: Thank YOU!

Hervé Pugi


Hervé: I’ve watched the Superbowl, including the halftime show. I need your opinion:  who’s finally the best dancer: Justin Timberlake or Adam Green?

Toby: While I wasn’t dazzled by the halftime show, I do think that Timberlake is a great dancer. Adam dances playfully and his movements are from the heart, he’s a true showman and it’s hard not to smile when I’m onstage with him and he’s dancing, so I don’t ever try to fight it!

Hervé: I have to choose between two gigs in Paris: Lee Ranaldo or Ian Svenonius (Chain & Gang)? Your advice…

Toby: That’s a tough choice to have to make! I think you’re likely to hear something that may never be repeated again if you head to the Ranaldo gig. I’m a diehard Sonic Youth fan. Ian Svenonius is among my all-time favorite singers and the Make Up is one of my most favorite bands, so I would likely head to his gig first!

Hervé: I must finish the interview with a crucial question, everybody wants to know. Finally, “who’s got the crack?”

Toby: I know with absolute certainty that it’s not me!


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