At the crossroads of underground and over the top, zoned in and plugged out, raw and riotous, lives Chicago’s My Gold Mask. The band’s exotic spells and murderous ballads have built a unique wall of sound that some have likened to a metallic symphony – pretty impressive when you consider My Gold Mask has, until recently, been a duo.
Lead vocalist and percussionist Gretta Rochelle first met guitarist Jack Armondo at a rooftop party; their first words to each other were about music, and ever since the conversation between the two principal songwriters of MGM has stayed there, resulting in two well-received EPs in 2010: A Thousand Voices and A Million Miles (From Where We Were Last) , which had Pitchfork calling them “a band to watch”, as well as a self-titled debut LP and the band’s latest: 2013’s Leave Me Midnight.
Part of My Gold Mask’s success is that they have always been a band of versatility. From the beginning, the duo was synced by Rochelle’s expressive, genre-hopping vocals, and Armondo’s reverb-soaked guitar riffs. But that hasn’t stopped the pair from evolving around those core staple elements. In both tone and structure, they’ve managed to transcend their earliest influences into modern atmospheric components from styles and nuances you can’t exactly pinpoint.
When they needed percussion, Rochelle taught herself how to play; when they wanted to fill out the textured nuances of their sound, they commissioned drummer James Andrew (now a full-fledged member of the band). Andrew brings forth both traditional and electronic drums – triggering synth pads and basslines – for much denser arrangements and synthetic layers, that compliment the band’s core songwriting.” My Gold Mask has always been a vehicle for our ever evolving artistic impulses,” says Armondo on the band’s evolution. “From day one we established that the very identity of the band could change at our whims, hence the name”.
“We like to explore those darker feelings that sometimes get left behind in pop music,” adds Rochelle, and the band has successfully found that balance by working on heavy-handed remixes with the likes of The Hood Internet and Crystal Castles’ engineer Alex Zelenka, who re-rendered the band’s biggest single to date, “Violet Eyes.” The song also caught the attention of fashion designer Phillip Lim who used My Gold Mask’s music in his 2010 Fashion Week shows and hosted the band for an in-store performance, which led Vogue to name it one of the “Ten Best Music Shows of Fashion’s Night Out.”
In the summer of 2013, My Gold Mask returned to the forefront with a new Daytrotter session, a first-ever national headlining tour and joined Metric at Red Bull Sound Select’s inaugural concert, building on their roster of supporting acts like Twin Shadow, The New Pornographers, Blonde Redhead, and Waaves.
The year also marked the debut of the band’s song “Some Secrets” on MTV’s hit show “Awkward” (previously, “Ghost in Your Bed” and “All Up in the Air” appeared in episodes of “Gossip Girl”). Following suit, the enchanting number “Never Go Home” will air on Syfy’s hit supernatural show, “Being Human,” in January 2014.
In 2014, MGM continues to create new material, having just released digital-only singles of “Dangerous” followed by “Severed,” the hauntingly beautiful ballad SPIN premiered saying the band is “already looking to push their sound further.” With the January release of the bouncy synth hit, “Battles”, which premiered on Noisey, and remix by electro Goth artist Mr. Kitty, MGM is proving them right.
The brand new release of anthemic dance-rock single, “Dissipate”, produced by Sanford Parker, (producer, recording engineer, and musician at Corrections House), continues to show this trio means business.
For a band that started with a nylon string guitar, simple drums and the frontwoman of A Thousand Voices (“Gretta could have been a voiceover talent,” admits Armondo) to a now fully-realized trio with new releases already in the works for this year, My Gold Mask is edging for the spotlight they’ve been waiting for. But perhaps music magazine Pretty Much Amazing summed it up best in their review, saying the band “infuses some heart into the mundane and makes it beautiful.”
Gretta Rochelle – Vocals, Drums
Jack Armondo – Guitar, Vocals
James Andrew – Drums, Programming
Photos © 2014 by: Anam Merchant