Margaret Butler: All that glitters is GGOOLLDD
There are certain things we are wise to do in order to keep our spirits young and alive. Sometimes there is nothing we need more than the kind of live music we can dance and jump around to, in a room of people doing the same.
And there is not a better band for that than GGOOLLDD, the Milwaukee-born “Electronic Dream Pop” group who got their start in 2014. They have already established a solid fan base, and played shows and big-name festivals all over the country.
Something about GGOOLLDD feels serendipitous enough that they should be a national name with time. In Milwaukee, we are lucky enough to see them at intimate venues. Their April 13 show at Cactus Club was truly magical and nothing short of their goal. Cracking jokes with audience members whose names they learned and then shouted out, front woman Margaret Butler crowd surfing in her gold cape, or just getting off stage to sing songs in the audience.
It is hard to fully “get” who GGOOLLDD is without seeing them live. The music translates better when paired with their almost theatrical, infectious performance. And a lot of the credit due to Butler. When the show was over, despite being very late on a Thursday, everyone kept dancing.
When musical artists make a name for themselves this quick, it is an enigma worth looking at. Connecting with an audience on a personal level is everything. GGOOLLDD’s lyrics and energy are youthful and charismatic enough to reach any sized audience. This band knows who they are and what their message is, and that certainty seems to make all the difference.
The Milwaukee Independent talked to GGOOLLDD’s lead vocalist Margaret Butler about the group’s identity and background, plus her personal experiences in music and life.
Q&A with Margaret Butler
Q: What is the fondest memory of your youth, and was there anyone who influence your life or interest as a musician?
A: Space Mountain. Hands down New Kids on the Block.
Q: If you could send a message back in time to a younger version of yourself, what would you say? And if you made a time capsule for your older self in the future, what would you pack?
A: You are right about everything and everything is gunna be okay. Gold.
Q: What is the most common question you are asked, and what does no one ever ask that you have always wanted to talk about?
A: When I was little, random people used to ask me if I was a boy or a girl. I’m still not sure, so that’s something to talk about.
Q: How did you feel when you realized that people were showing up to see a GGOOLLDD concert and not just a concert where GGOOLLDD was playing?
A: I’m far too self-concerned to imagine someone being there not for me. In all seriousness, I’ve never thought of it. I do this because it’s fun and if people are there to see us, awesome. If not, awesome, you are in for a treat.
Q: What did you do before joining GGOOLLDD? And what would you be doing if you had not?
A: I was about to open a clothing store. I would have opened said clothing store, realized a year in that I’m bored, sell my half to my business partner, and probably moved south and bought a snow cone stand.
Q: The public has one perception of you and GGOOLLDD, but how do you see yourself and the band’s identity? Are they combined or separate?
A: I don’t know. I think maybe people think we are this huge party band. We are. But we work 120% as hard as we party.
Q: Do you feel that people respect you as an artist and take you as seriously as you want them to?
A: That really depends on the person. I’m equally as easy to love as I am to hate, depending on whether you have chosen to love or hate me, which are emotions that are generally preconceived.
Q: What musicians have inspired your music style the most, and has your connection with fans had an influence?
A: We take inspiration from every style of music. Except that modern country garbage. But fans, yeah, 100 percent. Some songs I write to fill in music, some I’m trying to display a point, which is always the same, we’re all okay, we all love, we all hurt, and sometimes people suck and want to bring us down. But the important thing is that I love you, and a lot of great people love you, and you are gunna make it through whatever comes your way.
Q: With your third album, how do you feel GGOOLLDD’s music has evolved since you started playing?
A: We’re very good at learning from our mistakes and moving forward. Our newer songs are far more confident in themselves. We’re finally starting to understand our sound as a band.
Q: What is your hope for the future of Milwaukee, as a city and non-segregated community?
A: I don’t know, I’m from Louisiana and have never appreciated how awfully segregated Milwaukee is. It definitely hurts the city culturally.
Q: As a result of your personal popularity, have you felt a shift in responsibility to your audience to be more of a role model or an inspiration to them?
A: As someone who loves to cover themselves in glitter and unicorn images and is obsessed with all things fantastical in general, it has never been a surprise that I’m drawing in attention from young people. Knowing that, what kind of person would I be to not hold myself responsible for being a role model. Not the kind of role model that a conservative parent would appreciate, but one that holds out an open hand to those people with conservative parents who are constantly questioning themselves or want to be accepted for who they are.
Q: What is your greatest fear as a musician? What is your greatest joy?
A: At every show I look for the most uncomfortable, quiet person in the room and make sure to do everything in my power to dance with them, or if they don’t want to dance, hug them and make them the center of attention. You didn’t come to a GGOOLLDD show to stand in a dаmn corner. And if you did, you would be in that corner where I wouldn’t be able to see you. By the end of the show that person is always in the front of the stage smiling and dancing, or just sort of staring but still smiling. But they never go back, they stay there because they feel like they’re a part of it. And they are. That is the greatest moment. My biggest fear is letting that person down.
Q: Do you ever feel pressured to make political statements with your music? And have you resisted business interests to make your work more commercial?
A: Political, no. Have I written plenty of political songs? Yes. Those are for me. I’m giving you the stuff that makes me happy in hopes that it will make you happy. Definitely, we dabbled in a more commercial sound for a hot second because, you know, we were a new band trying new things but we quickly learned that is not us.
Q: Is there a consistent message or bit of wisdom that you try to express to your listeners and fans? And do you see yourself as an entertainer or a social trailblazer?
A: I just try to live by example. I’m gonna keep doing me, you keep doing you as long as that you makes you happy.
Q: What makes an ideal concert, and what experience do you want an audience to have while attending a live venue?
A: One where everyone involved has a ridiculously good time, AND I remember all the words to the songs. Also, a nice sound engineer is a super plus.
Q: What method or routine do you use to produce new music?
A: We try to change it up for every song. Each song is different, so it wouldn’t make sense to treat every song the same.
Q: How do you spend your free time, and is there anything you do personally that feeds your creativity? Do you bring that your music?
A: Haha, what free time?
Q: Is performing in GGOOLLDD a full time job for you? And do you intentionally take breaks from it?
A: It is, we try to take two days off every now an again, but there’s rarely a day that we do nothing involving the band.
Q: What would the public find surprising about the difficulties you face as a musician? And do your expectations of being an artist match the reality of it?
A: Green rooms. They are almost never set up for women. A single light and a mirror that isn’t covered in stickers is literally all I’m asking for, it’s crazy how hard those are to find. I’m so serious about spreading awareness on this issue.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about the life of a popular musician?
A: Hopefully I’ll know in a few years
Q: Besides creating more music and performing for GGOOLLDD, what personal goals are you still striving for?
A: Personal health, its hard to create a routine inside of this lifestyle. I’m literally filling out this interview right now to avoid going on a run.