It took a while, but I got Clifford Joseph Price, better known as Goldie, on the line eventually. The maverick innovator who rewrote the future of the Jungle scene with landmark releases that still sound like they were kidnapped from tomorrow (as laid out in his 2016 biography) and I first briefly met at the Tate Modern in London. There, he was getting ready to kick off a DJ set to celebrate the NBA’s 75th season and a new global partnership between Hennessy and the NBA. Between some of the biggest names in music, street culture, sport, and fashion, there stood Goldie, playing banger after banger.
The next day neither he nor I could make the call. Blame the night, or the Hennessy. We ping pong back and forth on dates. A month later, I finally called him up. By now, he’s back in the south of Phuket, Thailand, where he resides with his wife.
“I’m in a good place. I came here to retire and it didn’t work. [So] I’m in the golden return movement. I’m in that place where I get to hike up a mountain every day, three days this week. It fucking killed me this morning. I get to hike up these gnarly fucking mountains avoiding snakes and scorpions,” he tells me from his studio. “To be honest, they’re not that bad. Most snakes just get the fuck out of there. They’re like ‘I don’t want to speak to you humans today.’”
Now, Phuket is a far way from Goldie’s subcultural roots back here in the United Kingdom where he started out. He moved from being the goalkeeper on the UK’s national roller hockey team to breakdancing to becoming a renowned graffiti artist to becoming a seller of grills and a painter of trucks for drug dealers in New York and Miami to pioneering 1990s UK jungle, drum and bass, and breakbeat hardcore scenes, later rubbing shoulders with musical collaborators including David Bowie, Noel Gallagher, and KRS-ONE.
From there he launched his now legendary music label Metalheadz and the subsequent club night Metalheadz Sunday Sessions. And then some. Artist, art gallery owner, actor, producer. Most recently he walked the Louis Vuitton runway in one of the late Virgil Abloh’s final shows for the French house. And now he’s working on a series, to come out sometime in the future.
But that’s enough background. I’ll let him do the talking. Here’s Goldie on everything:
Without hugging trees, when I’m up in that mountain and I’m seeing something big eating something small, and I see this snake fuck off in the jungle, and I see something fall from the tree this day, and next week it’s rotten, and see a fresh thing blooming, I know [that I know] very little about life at this present moment.
Success isn’t about money. Fame is like a residue of X equals Y, and a lot of guys implode because [when] they’re not in the fame thing anymore. Most guys become very desperate. I just thought the one thing that’s been coherent and never changes even in desperate times is the music, the art. It doesn’t get compromised.
Every artist, no matter what genre, where you’re from, or how much you want to kid yourself, you have your time, you peak, and you descend. The descending part can happen, it happened several times for guys like me. You have to really recalibrate your life. [For me] it was pre-internet, so I didn’t have the danger of being imploded by Twitter comments, because the only voices I hear are my internal Twitter. You just have to navigate as an artist regardless of whether you’re relevant. You will go out of fashion, and if you stay around long enough you will come back.
On Travis Scott
I got inundated with Travis Scott fans [recently] and I couldn’t work it out for three months. What the fuck is that all about? Kim Jones turned around to me and said, “No, Goldie, it’s because [Travis] has a picture of you as his screensaver.” I’m like, “Why the fuck does Travis have a fucking picture of me as his screensaver?” But it turns out somebody snapped him at a concert where they were looking over his shoulder and there’s a picture of me.
On His Studio in Thailand
I’m in my lab which is my studio. We’ve done six studio albums in this room with James Davidson. It started as Luke Skywalker. Me being Obi Wan and I trained him into a vicious killer. We did The Journeyman here which was released like six or seven years ago. [Metalheadz] is such an integral label that it’s almost become the Mo Town of electronic music. We’re 26 years deep, and most labels don’t survive that long independently, number one. And number two, seeing new DJs playing what we did 25 years ago, it would be like me playing “Tears of a Clown,” Smokey Robinson, but it’s Drum and Bass.