By Andrew Davis
Internationally known gay singer Ari Gold is a case study in determination. Despite early hurdles that he faced—especially as an out performer—he persevered and became motivated to become a successful musician, songwriter and producer.
His hard work has paid dividends. After releasing three CDs ( including The Remixes, which came out last year ) , publishing an eponymous coffeetable book, and knocking Madonna off the top of LOGO's The Click List with his hit 'Love Will Take Over,' Gold is embarking on a summer tour. Along the way, he hosted the Outmusic Awards in New York City and he will take part in the Gay Games VII Closing Ceremony.
Forget love. At this rate, Gold will take over—soon.
Windy City Times: What are you up to right now?
Ari Gold: I'm in L.A. right now. I'm working on a new album.
WCT: What can you tell me about it?
AG: [ Pauses. ] It'll be amazing. [ Laughs. ]
WCT: He says in all modesty ...
AG: Yeah, right. [ Laughs. ] I'm not too ready to tell you too much about it. The songs are great and I'm working with some great producers. I'm trying to bring back the album that has a mix of pop, R&B and dance. There are a lot of different colors. It's a real groovy record.
WCT: How hard was it to break into the music business?
AG: On one hand, I could say that I started in the music business when I was six years old, when I recorded a children's record. I had my first demo when I was 12. In 2000, I had been recording and writing for the past five or six years. I thought I was going to get a record deal, but it didn't happen—partially because some of my songs had gay content. So I decided to put together my own album and see what happens. The response was greater than I had anticipated.
It's a constant journey and you want to bring your stuff out to more people. Now, there are so many more opportunities for people to get their music out. I would tell people to get it out there any way you can—and you don't need to worry about a 'big break.'
WCT: Yeah, it seems that you don't even need music stores now. I just read that, in England, this duo [ Gnarls Barkley ] had a No. 1 single—based on Internet downloads alone.
AG: Yeah, more people are buying music that way, definitely.
WCT: Tell me about your summer tour.
AG: Well, I'm doing a whole bunch of pride festivals, which will be a lot of fun. My gay pride slots are basically May through October, so I'm pretty proud by the end of it all. [ Laughs. ] I'm also doing my first gay cruise and I'm super-excited about the Gay Games.
WCT: What does participating in the Gay Games Closing Ceremony mean to you?
AG: Well, I'm not going to say no to an [ opportunity ] like this. I'm pretty much excited about performing in front of that large an arena. Also, despite the fact that I'm an old-school homosexual—as far as not being very good in sports, I think it's pretty cool when we have our own stuff. It's not about segregating ourselves, but it's about owning who we are and being proud of who we are. It's also important to show that we can play sports.
WCT: What musical artists have influenced you?
AG: Obviously, Madonna is a big inspiration and I dedicated a song to her on my last album. She was one of the few artists out there who sent the message that it was OK to be gay. I was in Yeshiva Jewish parochial school and I wasn't getting that message from the rabbis. Also, she usually has a point to what she's doing.
Musically, I love all the soul singers like Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Whitney and Mariah. I also like Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Marvin Gaye. I also like George Michael, Boy George and k.d. lang, who paved the way for an artist like myself by coming out. Brandy is really underrated.
WCT: Who do you think is overrated?
AG: I won't be mean, but she's getting a really hard time in the press right now.
WCT: It's a nice romantic evening and you're with that special guy. What are you listening to?
AG: We're listening to the Love Jones soundtrack or music from the label Naked Music. It depends at what point we are at the evening; I might want to turn up the gears and listen to hardcore hip-hop.
WCT: What do you make of Kanye West's comments last year that called for an end to homophobia in hip-hop?
AG: I think it's really great that he did that. He was the first one to say something like that—while being at the top of his game. A lot of hip-hop artists who were asked about his comments were not supportive, but I'm happy he said it. I have a lot of respect for him.
WCT: Do you get any feedback from people because you have the same name as Jeremy Piven's character on the TV show Entourage?
AG: I think you're the first interviewer who's asked me about this. It's funny because I've spent years in the business and people have told me that I should change my name because it sounds too Jewish, while others thought it was a stage name. I was determined to prove that Jews can be sexy pop stars. So now, this character—who's a behind-the-scenes agent—comes around with my name, so it's kind of hilarious. He plays the stereotypical Jew and I'm trying to combat those stereotypes.
For more info, see www.arigold.com .