Goldie Q&A: “In another life I’d be a teacher. Or a ruthless drug dealer”

The musician talks Nelson Mandela, graffiti, and how the world of Blade Runner 2049 could soon be real.

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Goldie was born Clifford Joseph Price in Walsall in 1965. He did break-dancing and graffiti before making the classic drum’n’bass album “Timeless” in 1995. He learned to conduct a concert orchestra for the BBC show “Maestro”.

What’s your earliest memory?

My mother’s beige bra. She would have been cuddling me on her chest, in bed and I remember looking at wallpaper that looked like velvet.

Who are your heroes?

As a teenager, the graffiti artists Dondi White and Lee Quiñones. I knew their work from Henry Chalfant’s Subway Art, which was one of our bibles. My musical hero is the jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. I learned all my arrangements from him.

What was the last book that changed your thinking?

Sum: Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman, given to me by Stephen Fry. It’s almost like stand-up comedy for monks, or Buddhists. It’s a beautiful book and it helped me to get my head around death.

What political figure, past or present, do you look up to?

Nelson Mandela, for his struggle.

What would be your Mastermind special subject?

The work of Miles Davis.

Which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live in?

I’d go to that era of the Cotton Club and Blue Note Records in New York around the time of Prohibition. There was some good music coming out then.

What TV show could you not live without?

The first time around, The Wire blew my mind. It’s so well executed. I’ve seen it three times and it stands up – you can make more sense of the subplots. It’s fascinating that in the pilot, all the characters are the other way around. The detective who carves wood – he was a crackhead.

Who would paint your portrait?

Mode 2 – he’s a prolific graffiti writer. A legend.

What’s your theme tune?

The third movement of Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs has always been a huge part of my life. It calms me down and rewires me in a really good way. I cannot get in a bath without listening to classical music.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t wish too hard, kid, cause it might come true.” An old alcoholic said that to me once, looking at my paintings. I just kept wishing and it started to happen.

What’s currently bugging you?

The lack of empathy for homeless people in the street. And young people who don’t vote. They think it doesn’t matter, but it does.

When were you happiest?

Now. I’m the happiest I’ve been for a very long time, because that wishing has started to happen. It’s been nice living in Asia, where no one knows you. David Bowie said to me you’ve got to be able to reinvent yourself. I thought he meant dressing up in different clothes, but reinvention is a beautiful thing if you can do it.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be?

An art teacher, or a ruthless drug dealer.

Are we all doomed?

Yes, we’re completely fucked. We’re approaching the world of Blade Runner 2049

Goldie’s memoir “All Things Remembered” is published by Faber & Faber. He tours the UK in November

This article appears in the 02 November 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Boris: the joke’s over