Brisbane-based producer and singer-songwriter Golden Vessel dropped his sophomore album colt a few weeks back, and we’ve had it on repeat ever since.
Golden Vessel, real name Max Byrne, is an unforgettable talent. Having made waves as a producer with his salacious 2018 single “Hesitate” and effervescent EP Right / Side, Golden Vessel flexed solid electronic-pop production and addictive songwriting. Yet, it wasn’t until his debut album SLOWSHINE when he began to let his low, warm vocals shine. On colt, Golden Vessel wields his unique tone throughout, blending lo-fi and dreamy synths. At 11 tracks long, colt features a familiar list of collaborators in the Golden Vessel world: Mallrat, The Nicholas, Emerson Leif, Rei so La, and labelmate and right-hand-man during his live performances, Akurei, each bringing a complimentary flare to Byrne’s baritone.
After many listens, it’s clear that colt doesn’t fit a particular mood or season. It’s moody and downtempo on the album opener “Besides You” and “Forever“. On “Stateside”, Byrne immerses you in his charming vocals over warbling pitched-up bass guitar and rudimentary drum patterns, and on this track, the album’s time and place becomes subtly clear.
On “Midwest“, the message is more explicit, in Golden Vessel’s own words:
“colt is a road trip album. I started it at home in Brisbane before a busy year of touring my debut album slowshine. A lot of those initial songs were sort of written in anticipation of travelling across America and driving hundreds of hours. I also kept writing whilst touring & travelling and the album sort of picked up a narrative of being away from people you care about,and trying to make the distance & time zone differences work.-Maxwell Byrne
Out on Golden Vessel’s newly established label sumoclic, colt touches on the themes of transience — bouncing around from place to place, relationships that come and go, always subtly suggesting that home is simultaneously where you’re from and where you’re longing to be. Luckily, we had the opportunity to catch up with Max where we had the opportunity to dive into the making of colt and his own embodiment of the road trip spirit until COVID-19 interrupted his plans.
Check out the exclusive interview with Golden Vessel and the album visualizer/stream below!
RB: “Hey Max! Excited to be sharing your new album colt on the blog – big ups on the release! This is your first full length release on your newly established label, sumoclic. How does it feel now that both of these projects have come to life?”
GV: “Thank you! Yeah it feels nice, Connor (Akurei) and I had been talking about sumoclic for almost 2 years and to finally launch it and run everything we’re doing through it is fun!”
RB: “As I understand, you began writing colt in anticipation of your 2019 US tour in support of your last album, SLOWSHINE – yet the sound on colt is remarkably different. What was your approach to this album like versus the SLOWSHINE era?”
GV: “I kept making music as soon as SLOWSHINE was finished and it went from sounding similar to sounding quite different very quickly. A big shift was I got to borrow my friend’s hofner bass guitar and use that instead of synths / samples. I also have always loved guitar-driven music and so I think I was curious to see what it would sound like if I met that style sort of in the middle.”
RB: “You also seem to have found your musical counterparts as far as your frequent collaborators – Mallrat, The Nicholas, and Akurei especially – what was the songwriting process like for you and your friends on colt?”
“Yeah I have! The songwriting was even more of a focus for me this time, and so a lot of times I’d start an initial idea with a friend and then take it away and focus on the lyrics and melody. There was also still a lot of collaging and weaving 2-3 songs into one, which always creates interesting parts I think.”
RB: “You carry the road trip theme throughout the project – from tracks like “Midwest” to the album visualizer, which I believe was filmed during what would have been an extended road trip across the US for you.. then COVID hit. What was that period like for you? Did it impact the direction of the album?”
GV: “Yeah, well I had these 3 months where I’d finished the album, but we were still waiting to launch sumoclic, so I thought I’d take that opportunity and drive around America. It sort of unravelled a couple of weeks into my trip, though, when the country started shutting down. It didn’t impact the songs I don’t think, but it did impact the visuals of the album.”
RB: “Where else was the trip supposed to take you? I’ve still got a couch waiting for ya [internet laugh]!”
GV: “Haha thanks man! I started in LA and got as far as Denver, I was just about to see New Orleans for the first time and then continue East to the coast, up as far as Montreal, and then West to spend some time in rural Montana and back down to LA.”
RB: “And since heading home to Australia, you’ve launched your label sumoclic, released a new album, and even started a new band called Lucky Idiot – some huge accomplishments! What do you imagine the next 6 months or so look like for you?”
GV: “Yeah being back home has had its perks — my band Lucky Idiot is putting their first EP out end of November, and I think I might do a little house side project early next year and just pick up some other projects / ideas here and there! Plus i’m writing new Golden Vessel at the moment too.”
RB: “As if it isn’t already abundantly clear, you’re a super hardworking dude. Outside of music, how do you like to spend your time?”
GV: “Thanks man! I really like finding a bit of a routine — usually involving a bit of cooking, running and drinking coffee (+ working)”
RB: “Is there anything else you want to leave readers with, whether about colt, something you’re pumped about, some well wishes, etc.?”
GV: “Hmm, I think I’m a big advocate for roadtripping I guess, and it seems that with international travel so gridlocked, social distancing is probably the most fun option available right now. So maybe try and get out there if you can.”