Ethan Gold

Composer of The Song of Sway Lake

Courtesy of Subject

Courtesy of Subject

Listen to the score for The Song of Sway Lake.


Ethan Gold, a native son of San Francisco, was raised in the hangover that followed free love, when the concept of family was trampled by baby boomers stumbling their way through history. His father is Beat-adjunct writer Herbert Gold, and his mother Melissa was killed in a helicopter crash along with the legendary rock promoter Bill Graham. For Ethan, the escape was always into new songs and the dreams where he hears them.

While living in a collapsing building in Los Angeles, Gold first stepped into public consciousness when he produced and arranged Elvis Perkins’ blog-hyped stunner Ash Wednesday. While moonlighting as bass player and resident musician in his brother Ari’s celebrity-driven folk party band the Honey Brothers, with Entourage star Adrian Grenier on drums, and also scoring his twin’s debut film Adventures of Power, Ethan continued honing his intensely sensitive music, eventually self-releasing (in America) his debut art rock album Songs From A Toxic Apartment to underground acclaim (“Emotions delivered with an unfiltered, glaring legibility”- Pitchfork; “The most interesting record I’ve listened to in the past 5 years.”- Rock N Roll Experience.) He then began rolling out a series of videos from the album showcasing his visceral approach, which eventually led him to side work as a video director.

While working on his next film score in New York, Ethan fell in a freak accident at a warehouse and had a significant head injury. Losing the ability to speak and to do complex tasks like sound engineering, during his convalescence his songwriting clarified further. He found himself returning to his childhood influences, being re-inspired by the futuristic sounds that were a refuge in post-hippie San Francisco, and completed a collection from live covers of some of his favorite songs, from New Order and Bauhaus to the musical Hair, as Live Undead Bedroom Closet Covers, (“Unhinged but weirdly compelling” – Uncut / “Often brilliant cover versions – $ Stars” -Shindig! “Rather fantastic” The Crack). In the summer he followed this with Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals). (Wildly diverting… like something off Kraftwerk’s  ‘Radioactivity’ interpreted by some wide-eyed, sun and acid-baked LA wunderkind (which he kinda is). – Electronic Sound / “Charming stuff with an innocent, pre-sequencer, handcrafted feel…. push primitive analogue instruments to their sound-warping limits.” -Uncut / “As a music critic, but moreover as a fan, I must say that it really doesn’t get much better than a record like [this] when you’re looking for pure ambience that transcendentally takes us to somewhere unearthly and stunning. In 13 songs, we travel the distance of the entire globe within, and outside of, our own consciousness. I don’t know about anyone else, but records like these are my reason for getting into independent music in the first place. (Skope Mag)  “I wouldn’t rule out Ethan Gold as being one of the major, unspoken influences in the future work of other artists…. If you think it’s absurd to even suggest that a devotedly experimental, avant-garde artist could have such a reach, I would encourage you to have a listen to some of Lou Reed’s earlier solo work and reassess your opinion…. I can say with complete confidence that I won’t hear anything quite as original as Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals) in all of 2018, and that is why it is my nominee for record of the year. – Vents Magazine.)

Most recently, he has finished the soundtrack to his brother Ari Gold’s second feature, The Song of Sway Lake. To match this tale of generations of a family, set in the golden light of late summer on an Adirondack lake, Ethan’s score creates a quietly interwoven emotional force, driven by water and silence, and nostalgia for and release from the past. Gold’s original title song, arranged in differing styles of the 1930s and 1940s and sung by John Grant and the Staves, transports us to the glamorous time of America’s ascendance. The body of the score is piano-driven, meditative, and nostalgic, with Gold’s e-bow, Jon Hassell’s trumpet, Fred Frith’s paintbrush guitar providing undercurrents of dread. The characters, both living and ghostly, echo and mingle through the grand lodge, and out on the quiet lake under sun and moon.


Watch the trailer for The Song of Sway Lake.


This episode of The Pop Disciple Podcast is hosted by Paul Goldowitz.

Production, Editing, Mixing, Mastering | Paul Goldowitz
Research | Ruby Gartenberg
Select Cues Throughout Episode | Ethan Gold
The Pop Disciple Podcast Theme and Outro Music | Paul Goldowitz

Special thanks to Ethan Gold and Costa Communications.