Photo courtesy of Holidae
Don’t just stick to the main stages at Basilica Block Party this year. Local bands, including synthpop duo Holidae, will be rocking the Star Tribune Stage all weekend. Holidae’s singer Ashley Gold tells Minnesota Monthly about her own musical journey, what it was like to win the Star Tribune’s “Are You Local?” contest this year, and why Minnesota is actually a great place to be a musician.
MNMO: Tell us a little about Holidae. How did it start?
AG: We’re a synthpop band that’s sometimes been compared to Chvrches. I met Garrett Neal, the other member of Holidae, when he was playing with a band in Uptown a few years ago. When everyone else was done at the end of the set, he kept playing the piano. I hopped onstage and started freestyling a melody and vocals. We became friends and started making music together after that. He’s responsible for the technical synth stuff. He writes some of the music, produces it, and makes it into hot, danceable tracks.
MNMO: What is your musical background?
AG: It started pretty late. I wasn’t exposed to performing and writing until I was about 17 years old, and even then it took a while to get the confidence to get onstage. I started as a spoken word poet and was inspired to begin playing the acoustic guitar. I have two projects under my own name and I’ve worked with several musicians around town, like Dessa.
MNMO: Your onstage fashion style is pretty unique. Why did you choose a more dramatic look?
AG: It’s part of a style by an artist in New York City, Adam Harvey, that’s made to throw off facial recognition software. We did some research and thought it was cool and kind of freaky. It could be the future. The inspiration started there, and then we derived characters through wigs and makeup. It’s fun to play with.
MNMO: You won the “Are You Local?” contest this year. What has that done for your career so far?
AG: I was so surprised and shocked when they said we won, but I was so excited at the same time. It’s been great for us so far. We played at SXSW and it was a lot of fun at a great venue. This gig at Basilica Block Party is huge, and we’re really thankful to have these opportunities and doors opened for us. I’ve never played at an event like this.
MNMO: Why have you stayed in the Twin Cities to pursue music?
AG: My family lives here. I’ve tried to convince myself to move to New York City or Los Angeles to pursue music, but I’m so close to them that it’s hard to consider leaving. Minneapolis has an incredible community and music scene, too. There are great people with really progressive minds here. And I love the lakes and going for walks or bike rides. There are so many opportunities to see the city from a bike. It’s easy to get negative when you haven’t seen the sun in days over the winter, but it’s so beautiful here.
MNMO: Do you have any strong memories of music in the Twin Cities that made you want to be a musician?
AG: The Blue Nile, which is closed now, held an open mic night every Tuesday. It started at 11 p.m., but the list would fill up by 9 because it was so popular. There was a live band that improvised while singers they barely knew performed, and they were always just creating something so organic and soulful. I met some of the most inspiring and influential people there. As a young writer and aspiring musician, it was so cool for me. It really shaped the way I write music.
MNMO: Holidae has released a single and an album so far. What’s next?
AG: We’re constantly writing new material. We have a couple shows at the Turf Club after Basilica Block Party and we’ll be performing at the Pizza Luce Block Party in August.
Catch Holidae and more acts at Basilica Block Party July 8-9. Tickets and more information are available at basilicablockparty.org.