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Breaking Down the Savior Complex with Jen Aldana

Though her life is looking a little different than what she planned, Jen’s faith spurs her on to create bold, authentic anthems of worship.

Girl with Micro Braids

APRIL 16, 2020

Maia Quin is a singer-songwriter; Andre Samuel is a producer. Together, they are GOLDSPACE. Though they came from different musical backgrounds before their paths crossed at Berklee, their collaborations have brought them into a world of dreamy, genre-blurring, electropop-flavored sound. Stupid Mind, their debut EP, drops on April 24th—our editor-in-chief Ceskie caught up with the duo to chat all things LA, Berklee experiences, and inspiration ahead of this exciting release.

Interviewed by Ceskie

Congrats on your release, “Drop Like Flies!” Tell me about the inspiration behind it.

MQ: When I wrote the song, my friend had just passed away due to overdose, and I was going through that and angry about just the state of opioid addiction in the country right now. A lot of people around me have passed away and keep passing away, and I had this anger that was surreal. I wanted to get it out in a song that wasn’t just a ballad, so I wrote a banger about it.

Are there any particular people that inspired your soundworld?

MQ: Andre comes from a hip-hop production background—I’m the first singer he ever worked with—and I came from a punk-rock background, so I hadn’t really done electronic music until we started working together. So we take from a lot of different rappers. As far as vocals I think my influences are pretty eclectic. Obviously my favorite modern singers are SZA and people in that realm, but I grew up listening to people like Kathleen Hanna and other artists along the lines of grunge. I think all those influences kind of went into the song.

Can you take me back to how you met and started making music together? What inspired your name? MQ: We met at Berklee, freshman year, and we were friends for a long time. 

AS: I’d had her sing on some stuff for a rapper I was working with back in Seattle, where I’m from. Then one year I came back to Boston and had a beat, so we made a song and it ended up being our first single, “Heavy Hitter.” 

MQ: When we put that song out and people liked it, we thought “ok - we should probably put out more music and be a band!” We actually re-released the song after we came up with the name GOLDSPACE, and we kept making music from there. It was kind of by accident, but it ended up being a really good thing. As for the name, we were putting in way too much effort trying to find a name for a while, but I think it sounds cool and we wanted it to kind of describe the vibe. 

When did you decide to move to LA? What have been your best experiences there so far? MQ: We moved in September—we’ve wanted to move to LA since we met, but about 9 or 10 months beforehand we just decided to go for it and start planning.

The best thing has been the weather… there’s no snow! But the best thing regarding the music has been the collaborations. There’s so many incredible people here, and Berklee has given us so many connections down here. I’m from San Francisco; we’re both West Coast babies, so it’s been a really easy transition. Also I think that because we met and found our sound at Berklee, we kind of hit a wall where it got tiresome with everyone being a musician and making music every day. So we needed a change, and just being out here has been really musically inspiring. And the music community is really inspiring.

Are there any particular experiences you’ve had that have defined that? MQ: I think our first show—I was very nervous, I didn’t think people were going to come. We had just moved out there and I had my little group of friends, so I didn’t think it would be that good of a show. But it was really packed; we were not expecting it! It was amazing. We’ve been playing house shows in Boston the last few years and those are absolutely amazing in their own right—I think everyone should have that experience if they go to Berklee—but this was a real club. We were really doing it. And that was a defining moment for me because I realized “oh shoot, we can really do this. This is for real.” The amount of people that showed up and knew the lyrics to our songs was crazy. That was a really cool moment. We’ve also met some really cool musicians out here. In New York we met this who we write and produce for, and when she came out here she introduced us to this crazy producer. He has this huge home studio that we got to go to, and we were just thinking “whoa, how did we get here?” 

AS: I’m doing an internship at Rick Rubin’s LA studio, Shangri. I met the guy that runs the studio through mutual people. It’s a very inspiring place where I get to be a fly on the wall.

Is there anything you’ve taken away from that experience that you can share with Berklee students?

I’m not trying to be an engineer and I don’t see myself working long-term at a studio, but working at a place with such high-caliber clientele and this energy that everything needs to be perfect and efficient and clean—it’s very motivating. Even the space is very beautiful. Being there, seeing people work there and meeting people is very inspiring. Everyone that works there is super dope.

MQ: Observing it from the outside, I think it’s totally changed our work ethic. Andre going in and experiencing that different work ethic has inspired us for sure. We’ve been more efficient. I think moving here in general and just seeing people so immersed in their art, committing to it no matter what they have to do, is the most inspiring shit. People are doing it for real, and it’s super motivating. The community of underground small hip-hop/R&B artists is so beautiful here, too. 

I feel like the music we’re making here is so much better than the music we were making in Boston; it’s linear, because over time you get better, but we’ve also gotten a big kick from being here. I’m excited for the EP to come out and even for what happens after the EP, because you just get better being in this culture. 

If you could go back to when you started at Berklee and give yourselves advice, what would you say?

MQ: I would probably say don’t sweat it so much. I used to worry so much more about how many streams a song would get or if people were going to like it. I thought about whether people would like the music we were making rather than making the music you wanna listen to. If you do that, you’re going to be good. We went into this thinking “we have nothing to listen to, so what do we want to hear?” That’s what we make. If there’s a day I’m thinking  “I need a fucking ballad, I’m feeling this type of way,” we’ll make it, you know? As long as you’re doing that, there’s an audience for you because you’re part of it. I wouldn’t sweat the numbers or the comments or the reactions. Do what you wanna hear and you can’t really lose; even if you don’t end up the next fuckin’ Beyonce, it’ll be alright. It’ll work out.

AS: I feel like I would tell myself to try and meet as many people as possible. Talk to and collaborate with as many people as possible. I feel like I did that my first semester, and then I kind of found my people and stopped reaching out to others.

MQ: We met at Berklee, and we also started our band and met so many people. It’s easy to flow into a group, but definitely reach out to people and try new things.

Did you have any defining experiences at Berklee?

AS: I took a class with Rachel Alina, and she really took an interest in our music, invited us to New York, and started helping us. Now she’s our mixing engineer. She’s incredible.

MQ: She’s like our mentor-slash-mom.

AS: She’s just helped us so much. She helped us with our transition to LA, she was taking us to NYC all the time the summer before we left, and she’s really helped guide us through navigating this shit.

MQ: There’s so many incredible teachers at Berklee, people who are so in love with what they do. In high school most teachers are pretty fuckin’ depressed, but I’ve had teachers at Berklee that really spoke to me. I took Livingston Taylor’s Performing Arts class, and he changed my life. I’m not even kidding, that class actually changed my life. The message of the class is that you’re serving the audience and it’s not about you, and that totally changed how I perform. He’s an incredible dude, and I would definitely recommend him to anyone who has the opportunity to take his performing arts class. He really changed the game for me. That was one of the best experiences I had at Berklee.

How do you #getinthegroove?

MQ: There’s a rule that I follow: when you get that itch or that idea, don’t sit around. And I think that it applies to more than just writing—when you have an idea for a collaboration, do it. When you think of something, do it. We hit people up we’ve never talked to and we just do things. That can all be really scary, but when you see it working it can be really amazing. When shit happens in life, it’s motivation to turn it into something good. My friend ODing was a horrible, tragic situation, but I think we managed to at least make one kind of good thing about it with “Drop Like Flies.” A song or a connection with an audience member, a DM we’ll get saying that our song helped someone out, it’s something that pulls me out of my head and keeps me going. It’s the best. We say when the inspiration comes, obey.

What does that look like in the midst of this pandemic?

MQ: I think there’s a lot of pressure in the music community to sit around and make music all day because you have no excuse not to, but I feel like that’s not very conducive to songwriters because you write about life. You go out all day, you come home, and you write a song about it. I think that for me, not losing my shit trying to write shit all day is kind of better. Feel relaxed and do the self-care things that you need to do, take walks, and when the moment hits, run to the fucking computer. Run to the fucking piano. And when it’s over, don’t stretch yourself. Walk away. If you need a couple days to finish it, that’s okay, because what comes out later is more meaningful than what you could write when all you have to look at is the same wall.

AS: Otherwise you pump out songs that don’t have any substance.

MQ: I think we’ve made some really nice songs since all this started—we haven’t made the most songs we’ve ever made in this amount of time, but that’s because I don’t wanna overextend myself in an environment where there isn’t as much inspiration as usual.

AS: It’s about finding those moments where we have the inspiration and capitalizing on it.

CREDIT TO: COURTESY OF ARTIST

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