Images and Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
“I tend to just address my own little world really.
My own thoughts, and real stories—
stories about a neighborhood, for example.
Something just honest and simple.”
— Marlon Rabenreither
Marlon Rabenreither, who releases and performs music as Gold Star, is an Austrian-born singer, songwriter and guitarist raised and based in LA. Formerly a member of psych rock outfit The Sister Ruby Band, Rabenreither began his solo project in 2013. He has released three albums as Gold Star, including Dark Days (2015), Big Blue (2017), and Uppers & Downers (2018).
Pitchfork Avant-Garde Festival
Pitchfork Avant-Garde is a two-day Paris block party that takes place October 31 and November 1 ahead of the annual Pitchfork Music Festival Paris. The 2018 lineup includes Rostam, Hundred Waters, Priests, Tennyson, Big Thief, Jamila Woods, Julie Byrne and Nick Hakim.
Phoebe Bridgers (b. 1994) is an American musician from Los Angeles. A graduate of Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Bridgers released her 7″ Killer on Ryan Adams’ record label PAX AM in 2015. Her songs have been featured on TV shows Switched At Birth, Castle and 13 Reasons Why. In 2017 Phoebe Bridgers signed to record label Dead Oceans.
Gold Star—otherwise known as Marlon Rabenreither—examines the highs, lows and in-betweens of life on his new album Uppers & Downers (Autumn Tone Records, 2018), praised by critics for its classic quality and “70s singer-songwriter pop rock vibe.”
Drawing from his own life and conversations with friends, Rabenreither sings of the deeply personal and observational. His song “Dani’s In Love,” for instance, details a dark period in which his girlfriend “literally saved” his life. Throughout the album, the singer’s beloved Los Angeles serves as its connective tissue.
Now, with a slot at the Pitchfork Avant-Garde Festival, shows with Phoebe Bridgers and a European tour all on the horizon, Gold Star is—as Clash Magazine (UK) puts it—“continually striding forwards.” Here, he discusses his influences, his musical parents, and why he’d like to pick Paul Simon’s brain.
Where you from?
I’m from Los Angeles.
When did you start making music?
I’ve been doing it for a long time, since I was a teenager. But I’ve only been writing songs seriously for five years or so.
Who did you listen to growing up?
Everything—the Beatles, Velvet Underground. Those are big ones, but all kinds of stuff.
“My parents were musicians. They are pretty creative and I think it was just always around, it just kind of made sense.”
How did you get started?
My parents were musicians. They are pretty creative and I think it was just always around. It just kind of made sense.
What felt like your first break?
I don’t think there was a first break. I think everything is always dependent on the people who support you and believe in you, whether it’s fans or the people you work with. I think it’s a long sequence of first breaks, and there are things yet to come as well.
What life events have impacted you and your music the most?
I think my friendships, and the kind of stories that I see, and the ongoing things. I think it’s just all the cities I’ve been to, the people I’ve met and everything I got from that. I think that all influences me a great deal.
“Gold Star was the name of a recording studio in Hollywood. It was a Phil Spector studio, and Brian Wilson worked out of there.”
What is the story behind the name “Gold Star”?
It was a recording studio in Hollywood. It was a Phil Spector studio and Brian Wilson worked out of there. I like that it’s a little bit about that—I was interested in it and how it’s from Hollywood, as I am, and it means a lot of things. I think it’s open to interpretation.
Tell me a bit about your album Uppers and Downers that is coming out now.
It’s twelve songs, and I think they are all distinctly different. The deal was that there would be some very slow somber songs, as well as some upbeat rock and roll songs. I wanted to have a good contrast between these moods and, ideally, everything in between. Just basically the highs and lows of life, and to reflect that through these twelve distinct songs.
“I tend to just address my own little world really. My own thoughts, and real stories—stories about a neighborhood, for example. Something just honest and simple.”
What are some things that are important to you, that you like to address through music?
I think I tend to just address my own little world really. My own thoughts, and real stories— whether they are my experiences or my friends. Just to tell stories in that sense, even if they are really small interactions. Stories about a neighborhood, for example. Something just honest and simple in a way. I think that is something I try to address.
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
That is an interesting question. I’d love to pick somebody like Paul Simon’s brain. Just to see what his thoughts on songwriting are. He’s somebody who has been doing it for such a long time and it’s like, how do you continuously do that? How do you keep growing as an artist? All those things I’d be interested in knowing.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
I like reading a lot. I’d say that’s a big one. I like supporting other music and going to shows. And I’m fond of books. So those are the big two.
My record, Uppers and Downers, comes out and I have a record release show in LA and then I’ll be touring the East Coast and Europe through October and early November. So, I’m looking forward to that.