At a time when confusion, separation and political conflict were tearing people apart, singer/songwriter Jeffery Goldford found himself, like everybody else, watching helplessly as the world was turning upside down around him. ‘It just felt like we were collectively losing it a bit,’ he remembers.
What emerged from this lonely and complicated era was GoldFord’s latest single Walk with Me, a solid anthem of togetherness and unity. Written at the beginning of the pandemic, GoldFord and collaborator AG carefully detangled what the world needed to hear and stripped it into two minutes and forty-eight seconds of pure light. ‘I was with my good friend and collaborator AG on the day we wrote the song and we were talking about what we, ourselves, needed to hear in that moment,’ he recalls. ‘We still joke that Walk with Me wrote itself.’
The track comes with a transparent message that requires no deducing; we can get through anything together. There’s no guessing or hidden meanings, and lyrics such as ‘walk with me, I’ll walk with you, down these troubled roads, we’ve stumbled into’ are universally relatable right now. These soothing, soulful words are backed by the enchanting sound of a gospel choir, evoking feelings of warmth and hope, whilst adding another dimension to the uplifting single. ‘Even though I’m Jewish, I was raised on soul music,’ GoldFord explains. ‘Walk with Me is a song about togetherness and how we can help each other make it through. The choir conveyed that message so naturally.’
As GoldFord gears up to release his new EP Dreams of Summertime later in the year, we look back at his musical journey pre-pandemic, talk all things Walk with Me and discover the unlikely place that sparks his best ideas.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! How are things going at the moment?
Thank you for having me! Things are going a bit nuts right now but in the best way. There’s lots of change.
You said in an interview that you got into music a little later than some musicians. Can you tell us a bit more about how you got into music and what pushed you to pursue it as a career?
I’ve always loved music. The only thing I wanted on my second birthday was Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. I was obsessed. I just never thought I could sing. In college, I shared a house with a bunch of my friends. I would only sing in the shower when I thought no one was home. One day my roommate heard me and was very encouraging. Next thing I knew I was in a band playing sold out shows. In my house, you were expected to go out and get a ‘real’ job. I found myself pushing music to the side to try and ‘make a living’. Years later as I was ‘making a living’ in sales, I realised I wasn’t really living for anything. That’s when it became clear; do what you love. Be excited about weekdays. The rest will sort itself out. Once I started really leaning into that, opportunities started to show up and I kept moving forward.
What inspires you in terms of song writing?
Feeling the extremes. For me that’s when my favourite songs pour out.
Can you remember the first song you ever wrote? What was it about?
I do indeed. It was called 14 Dollars. It was a song about not having a clue how to write a song. If you heard it, you’d agree!
Do you have a certain place where you love to just sit and write?
I have so many ideas, melodies and entire choruses that come to me in the shower. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost wiped out running for my phone to record something.
Let’s talk about Walk with Me. You wrote the song at the beginning of the pandemic when life was suddenly thrown upside down. What was your life like at that moment in time and what made you start writing Walk with Me?
Life was weird. I live in Los Angeles and there were NO cars on the road. None. Everyone was trying to figure out what was going on. Was this merely another flu or a zombie apocalypse? We were wiping down our groceries. Toilet paper was as precious as gold. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, the guidelines kept changing. It just felt like we were collectively losing it a bit. I was with my good friend and collaborator AG on the day we wrote the song and we were talking about what we, ourselves, needed to hear in that moment. We still joke that Walk with Me wrote itself.
We’re in lockdown again at the moment in the UK and when I listened to Walk with Me, it gave me goose bumps… it really turned a bad day around for me and gave me hope. What sort of emotion did you hope to evoke from listeners with this song?
That makes me so happy! Evoking goose bumps is a great start! As a music fans, we all have those songs that have helped us get through something. I honestly just hope that my music helps someone know they will indeed make it through, whatever it is they might be going through.
The song has this gorgeous gospel backdrop. Why did you decide on this sound for the track?
Even though I’m Jewish, I was raised on soul music. Walk with Me is a song about togetherness and how we can help each other make it through. The choir conveyed that message so naturally.
The lyrics to the song flow really well. Did the lyrics come to you quite naturally?
Sometimes writing lyrics can feel like a wrestling match. Other times it feels like a waltz. That’s how Walk with Me felt.
Walk with Me was featured on Greys Anatomy. The scene is incredibly emotional, how did you feel when you were approached about using the song and how did you feel hearing it on the show?
I’ve always watched Greys Anatomy and dreamed of having a song as the soundtrack to one of their pivotal scenes. They use music so powerfully in that show. I was so excited when I found out that they were using it, but I didn’t know how or where. I remember watching the scene for the first time, with tears in my eyes, thinking they used the song exactly how we wrote it. It was beautiful.
After listening to your album Shed the Light and then listening to Walk with Me, I noticed a theme of hope and light running through your tracks (Beautiful Days, City Lights etc). Is this something you consciously portray through your music or is it more about how you’re feeling at the time?
As I said before… feeling the extremes always inspires me the most, the ups and the downs. I would categorise myself generally as a hopeful person. Even when I’m really depressed and down in it, I try and remember it’s temporary and I look for the purpose, even if that takes a while to see. I think a lot of the themes of hope that come through in my music are really a conversation I’m having with myself. A cathartic pep talk of sorts.
Just touching on some of your other singles, I heard Style Like You was about a girl you kept seeing in a coffee shop. Can you explain a little more about this song?
Ha. Yes. I’m going to tell you a secret. That song was written for an advertisement, a blue jean commercial. I had a deadline to submit the song. I went to grab some coffee before starting the session and there she was. I’d love to tell you that I approached her with some smooth opener, but the truth is I awkwardly smiled and nodded as I walked out with my coffee to go home and write about it.
Did you ever tell the girl it was about her?
You Take feels like an incredibly personal track. What inspired you to write this track?
Meeting someone that makes you feel safe enough to unapologetically be your messy self and how different and special that feeling is.
Upside Down, surpassed 30 million streams. Can you remember how you felt when you found out?
I was still living in Chicago working in my sales job. I was blown away. It felt like confirmation I was going in the right direction.
What piece of work are you most proud of to date?
I wrote an EP during quarantine. I’m really proud of what we made. It’s called Dreams of Summertime and I’m so excited to release it!
Who do you look up to and admire in the music industry?
Bill Withers, another late bloomer. He writes the most universal songs, they reach everyone. John Mayer, he keeps reinventing himself in a way that feels so authentically him. Ed Sheeran, he is genre-less.
Have you been given any advice from anyone in the industry that you’ve carried around with you?
A few years back, I played a Bill Withers tribute show and he actually showed up and got on stage. After the show he told me, ‘Be here, be humble, just groove.’
How has the pandemic affected you and your music?
The pandemic has forced me to sit still and focus. There are no distractions or ways to stay busy. It’s offered plenty of emotional extremes as well. I think I have created my favourite music so far during this quarantine.
What are your plans for 2021? Can we expect to see another album any time soon?
I want to release all of this music that I’ve made. I plan on releasing 4 EPs this year, the first one being Dreams of Summertime.
GoldFord’s single ‘Walk with Me’ is out now.