Gabe Goodman makes his mark on music scene
When he was a baby, Gabe Goodman's crying could only be silenced by the sound of his father playing the guitar. When his father would stop playing, Goodman—who is now a mid-year in the Class of 2015—would resume crying and screaming. "The legend goes that, when I was four, my parents got me my own guitar to shut me up permanently," joked Goodman. But buying him a guitar encouraged just the opposite. Immediately after receiving the gift, Gabe started playing constantly, and by the age of five had already started writing his own music.
Goodman has also had the opportunity to share his music outside his circle of family and friends. In 1998, he played the music he wrote on Kids Say the Darndest Things, a '90s CBS comedy series hosted by Bill Cosby. According to Goodman, the songs he performed on the show were "Not very good ... obviously."
Throughout his life, Goodman's parents were more than supportive of his artistic endeavors. Aside from encouraging him to pursue music, they recognized his talent in acting and took him to auditions as frequently as they could. By the time he was seven, Goodman—who was living in Canton, Mass. at the time—had been involved in numerous plays in Boston and Providence, R.I. Goodman continued acting through middle school and high school and did not limit himself to school productions. During his sophomore year of high school, he performed in the play Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind on Boston's Zeitgeist stage. For this performance, Goodman was nominated for a "Best Performance by Child Actor" award by the Independent Reviewers of New England.
During his junior year of high school, Goodman performed in the exotic thriller The Overwhelming at the Boston Center for the Arts. Written by J.T. Rogers, this play centers around a white, American family who moves to Rwanda during the Rwandan genocide. Performing in this play was a particularly unique experience for Goodman: Although he anticipated that his parents would be part of the audience during his performances, Goodman was not accustomed to his parents seeing him in more mature-content productions. "On stage, I had to receive fellatio from a Rwandan prostitute. She didn't actually do anything to me. It was simulated, but it was still pretty awkward when my mom came to see me," Goodman recalls.
Spring Awakening and The Overwhelming are the latest theatrical productions Goodman has been involved in as an actor. Although he has been acting for most of his life, Goodman has decided to take a break during college. He comments that he has not felt the urge to become involved in theater at Brandeis because he is "a little tired of theater." Goodman still continues to explore his talent in music.
Goodman is only 18 years old but has already produced two full-length albums—Conundrummer (January 2010) and Friendly Fires (May 2011)—and one EP, Midnight Sour (January 2012). He is hoping to release another album by the end of 2012. When I asked him how involved he is in creating each album, he responded, "I write. I produce. I play guitar. I play bass, and keyboard a little bit. I sing." In fact, all of Goodman's releases have been original pieces, written and produced almost entirely by Goodman himself. Goodman's progress over the years is astounding. He embarked upon his musical excursion with a small acoustic guitar, composing simple, amateur tunes for his friends and family; Today he writes, engineers and produces his releases almost entirely by himself, using advanced music-production computer programs like Logic Pro.
Attempting to reduce Goodman's music to one genre would be unfeasible, considering the wide assortment of artists who inspire him and influence his music. He cited influences as diverse as Bon Iver, Dirty Projectors, Flying Lotus, Jess Buckley, Elliot Smith and The Pixies.
Goodman draws inspiration from these artists and tries to produce something unique for each release. "Whatever I'm into at the time, I will attack in my own way." His debut album Conundrummer was almost entirely acoustic; Goodman commented that he tried to keep the editing to a minimum. He categorized his second release, Friendly Fires, as pop-rock, and his latest EP release as all electronic.
Goodman's music is available online. Although most fans choose to download his music for free, he has received money from generous fans who chose to buy his albums. He's used that money to pay for costs involved in producing his music.
Before coming to Brandeis, Goodman spent at least an hour a day writing or producing music. He strives to remain devoted to his music here at Brandeis. He tries to play, write and record daily, but finds it difficult considering his other commitments and the lack of privacy that accompanies having a roommate.
Goodman does not have a manager; he is self-promoted and plays live shows "as often as I can get them." To book his shows, he typically emails venue managers or coordinates with friends who attend other colleges, who in turn help him book spaces at their respective schools. This past Saturday he played at Yes Oui Si, "Boston's multi-sensory exhibition space." During April break he is hoping to go on a tour, playing at Princeton and the University of Vermont, as well as venues in New York and Boston. He is also hoping to book a show at Brandeis before the end of the semester.
Upon arriving, Goodman was unpleasantly surprised at how small the Brandeis music scene is and how "the taste of music seems to be geared towards something I'm not really into." He hopes to become more involved in the music program and leave his mark.
Although he understands that it is difficult to "make it" in the music industry, Goodman is hoping to pursue music as a career in the future.