With a name like Golden (Landis Von Jones), metal isn’t the only thing that derives a diversity of special properties and qualities – in fact, it comes in human form too.
Qualitative in the way he carries himself, Golden, known professionally as 24kGoldn, currently acquires the number one spot in the world with his song ‘Mood’ featuring friend and collaborator Ian Diorr.
Rising to fame back in 2019 with his platinum single ‘Valentino’, 24kGoldn has continued to harvest his successes – becoming an emblematic figure in the current-day music scene. And If that wasn’t enough to brag about, the baby-faced musician is gearing up to release his debut studio album El Dorado but before it surfaces – it would only be right to enlist the world’s biggest superstar Justin Bieber and J Balvin for a ‘Mood’ remix.
With a year full of continuous wins, the newly 20-year-old put his life on PAUSE for a moment, discussing the importance of social platforms, dropping out of education and the significance behind his forthcoming album.
Check out the interview in full below.
Welcome to PAUSE, 24kGoldn. How are you? How’s your day been so far?
Man, I’m great. It just started actually; I just woke up ha!
What’s the COVID-19 situation like where you are? Is there a lockdown? Or are things getting relatively back to normal?
Yeah, things are getting back to normal now. We have outdoor dining; a lot of places have opened back up for shopping and all of that. It’s just like, you have to wear a mask when you go out and don’t do anything too stupid, ha!
What’s a typical day in the life of 24KGoldn usually like, anyway?
Right now, it’s nothing too crazy you know. I’ve just been working on music, spending time with my close friends and trying to have as much fun as I can, with the number one song in the world.
Well, we’re soon about to get onto that. However, there’s no doubt in saying this year has been crazy and unpredictable – to say the least. We’ve all been restricted. Has this pandemic made you work harder than usual or have you often felt unmotivated because of it?
Uh, nah. This pandemic is a blessing in a curse. If there wasn’t this pandemic, I don’t think I would have had the time to really focus on my craft in the way that I have now. Now I’m making some of the best music of my life, I feel like I’ve had time to build a strong team around me and this year has been kind of a simulation year. A lot of years are in the field, in the lab, this year actually feels like we’re in the lab figuring out how I can do stuff better once things are back to normal.
That’s true, at least it’s allowed us to kind of step back and do things that we don’t necessarily have time to do. It’s a change from the usual ‘go, go, go’ life.
Yeah, exactly. Everything is usually ‘go, go, go’ and has been for like 100 years. I feel like this is the first-time people have really gone to stop and reflect, the world as a whole has done this. LA felt like a private lobby on GTA or something, there was literally no cars, no pollution, you could just do whatever.
On the subject of ‘work hard, play hard’. You’re a college dropout – which even made it to the name of your 2019 album. What was the relationship like between you and education?
I’ve always been good at school. My dad was the first one to go to college and he got a full scholarship and so did my mum. Growing up, it was never a question of ‘are you going to college?’, it was ‘where are you going to college and how big of a scholarship are you going to get?’ That was just the expectation.
School was easy for me and I knew there was more out there than just school, I was good at it though and I saw it as a tool to get to where I wanted. If I hadn’t been good at school, I wouldn’t have got a scholarship to go to USE and then I would never had moved to LA (the best city to break as an artist).
You took a break from college but made that conscious effort to re-consider if things didn’t work out. Do you think you’ll ever go back into education or is that a no-no with the current position you’re in?
I wouldn’t be opposed to going back on the other side of education to teach people what I’ve learned but I just feel like, for the next 10-20 years, I can’t really see a situation where I’d need to go back to school. Everything I want to do, or want to be able to do, I think I’ll be able to do with the education I have now. Getting into a school like USE and getting a full scholarship says a lot right there about my mental capacity.
I always like to ask this, especially to those that have reached fame from a young age. Is it all that you imaged it to be?
Um, nah. One thing I realised is that I had no idea what being famous was going to be like until it actually happened. The best way I can describe it is like being in the centre or the eye of a hurricane. In the eye of the storm, everything is calm, and you can’t feel it. But everything around the eye of the storm is chaos, and that’s what fame is like.
I feel like I’m still me. I’m Golden Landis Von Jones, the kid that used to pick his buggers at three years old, but obviously we have evolved from that. I’m still me but there’s a lot of chaos and not everybody is able to withstand the storm that comes with fame. It’s about keeping the strongest people that love you closest to you.
Given your stance in the industry, do you often feel pressured by the fame? Or have you managed to keep quite composed?
It depends on the situation. When I’m with my friends or I am doing shows, I don’t feel the pressure because at the end of the day, the type of music I make, the type of person I am, I haven’t got to worry about my fans trying to rob me or something like that. It’s usually the people that appreciate the things that I’m doing and want to show love. I think there is always going to be some anxiety there because damn anything I do; the entire world could see me slip and fall outside or post an embarrassing picture to my story.
How do you remain balanced? Do you have any coping mechanisms to deal with that?
I’m not really the type of person to get lost in the sauce. Like, yes, I like jewellery, cars and beautiful woman but that’s not my purpose and this is not why I’m doing it. I understand that it’s just the icing on the cake. I have people around me that will remind me if I ever forget, like: “yo, you know why you’re here. you know why you’re doing this.”
I think the people you surround yourself with is the difference between a legacy and a tragedy.
Speaking of being young and grounded, there are many out there with the same dream as you. Wanting to be a superstar! What advice do you give to anyone wanting to be in the same position as you?
Make sure you’re ready for it. A lot of people think it’s easy with SoundCloud and Tik Tok blowing up songs every other day. A lot of people think they can just go on the mic, sing some sh*t and become the next superstar. That’s not the case. I’ve been working on this since I was fourteen or fifteen, this is 5 years I’ve put into it. There has been so much money put into it, so much adversity I’ve had to overcome, most artists most probably won’t be willing to give that extra effort and extra energy.
This is my dream. I love making music. I am willing to do anything to make my dream come true. Make sure you’re really about it if you want to be a superstar. This is your life.
Your success has unquestionably derived from your musical ability; however, you could also give a huge thanks to Tik-Tok, so it’s funny that you mentioned it. You’re a household name on the platform as well as a contributor to the millions of people that use your music for content. How important do you think apps like TikTok are when it comes to getting that exposure?
Everyday social media becomes more and more important to our life. It’s how we find out the news, where we want to eat, our significant others, making friends. It’s only makes sense we discover music through social media too, right? Tik Tok just so happens to be the app right now that is the best for music discovery. I joined the community for a minute, and I think when you show love, you get that back x10. I wasn’t afraid of trying something new and trying out the platform. It reminded me of Vine when I was in high school making videos, so Tik Tok reminded me of that.
Whether it’s Tik Tok or Instagram, or whatever the top app is. Me making music is going to be a thing that allows it to spread but having that business brain also gives me the ability to use these platforms to spread my music.
Do you feel like social media has changed the way we listen or perceive music?
Yeah, I mean think about the length of songs. People are so used to getting content tailored to them on demand, if it doesn’t immediately match with what they think they like, it’s onto the next thing. I was going back listening to music the other day and I saw a 5-minute song and I thought to myself, who would ever make a 5-minute song? It was regular not so long ago.
Your track ‘Mood’ featuring Iann Dior is chasing its 4th week at the number one spot. Certified platinum. Most streamed song in the world. I can’t imagine how that feels.
It’s so crazy, it doesn’t feel real. But I know it does. Where I’m from in San Francisco, this type of thing doesn’t happen. I’m standing on shoulders that a lot of people that came before me. Whilst I love this moment and appreciate this moment, I am so grateful. I know this isn’t an accident. I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I know this is bigger than me too. This is just the beginning. There’s plenty more number ones to come.
How did the collaboration come about?
Me and Ian are friends. I’ve known that boy for two years. We never released a song together despite knowing each other for a long time. That’s kind of why the song is so big, because we were really comfortable with each other as people before we were doing music together. I strongly believe that when you make songs with your friends or with the people that you love, the music is better. The proof is in the pudding. You can hear how much fun we were having. It’s high vibrational music.
You rose to fame with your track Valentino, but I also saw you were a former child actor. Could you tell us a little more about that?
I wouldn’t say a child actor, you make me sound like I was on Suit Life of Zack and Cody haha. So technically, yeah, I did commercial acting as a kid. I did Lunchables and Honda, blue diamond almonds. I equate that being comfortable to talk to all types of people and being comfortable on camera.
I guess exposure comes with great responsibility too. That’s one thing I want to touch on. October marked ‘Mental Health Day 2020’. When it comes to mental health, I’ve noticed you’re quite open/vocal about it.
My experience with mental health is pretty unique. I’ve never been a severe sufferer of depression or anxiety, but it wasn’t until I went to college and I was alone that I felt anxious or bad. I was kind of like “what the hell is going on?”. Experiencing those things definitely made me more empathetic about things, because you never know what somebody else is going through.
You recently tweeted “mental health is real”. As someone so young in the industry, but more importantly someone with a voice, with regards to mental health and being open about it – what message are you trying to get across to people?
I mean, I just want people to know that it’s okay not be okay. But I also want to let people know that it’s not ok to stay not ok. It’s alright if you’re feeling bad or going through something but I want to encourage people not to feel alone or wallow in sadness. There’s always going to be someone that can listen to you. Trust your friends, your family, therapists. Normalize going to therapy. I want people to feel ok with talking about their problems.
You’re so wise for a 19-year-old and I find that so inspiring. Growing up in the noughties, what type of music did you listen to? I guess we’ll probably share some memories as we’re not too apart in age.
My mum and dad got me this Michael Jackson Greatest Hits Music Video DVD thing, I used to watch it every day. You know which one I’m talking about?
I think I may have that one too.
Everyone in the world must have it. Drake was big. Kanye was big. Asap Rocky was big. Outkast, Black Eyed Peas. There was a lot.
Some have described your sound and style as pop-punk. Was there a time where you felt like you found your true style both stylistically and musically?
Everyday I’m finding out new things that make me. That’s just life. I don’t ever want to be stuck on “I am this way and I only do this because I like this stuff”. I am always opened to have my perspective changed.
With music in particular, there was a time where that I thought I only liked rap and hip-hop music, anything else to me was ‘white people music’ but coming out to college and meeting new people and being open to new things, it made me realise that good music is good music period. Not worrying about if something is punk, or pop, it’s led me to make some of the best music of my life. I don’t like any boxes or any labels.
Your fashion sense is bright and quirky. Is there a staple piece of clothing or shoe that you consider timeless?
Yeah. When it comes to pants, I am very, very, very particular. One thing that I refuse to give up on are some good flare. All my pants that I wear are bell bottoms or have some sort of flare to them. I love sneakers too. Nike SB dunks, Yeezy 1s, Jordan 4 Lasers, Visvim sandals, those are my go-to.
What is your favourite fashion brands?
Hmm. I like Telfar Global, Martine Rose, Bode, Marni, Comme Des Garcons – Kapital is also a big one for me.
We have to get onto the topic of how cool your website is. The little animated character is super cute. Whose idea was that?
That was mine. I was like yo, I don’t want no basic ass website. I made the character in the middle. You can play with the character and spin him around. I want to make as many interactive experiences for fans as I can. From shows, to websites.
Speaking of the future, you’re working on your next project. Tell us a little more about that, if you can. Is there anything else we can look forward to or expect to see from 24KGOLDN himself?
This Quarantine has been so good for working on music, I really got to lock in. I’ve been working on my debut album El Dorado. It’s called El Dorado because that means the golden one and the golden city In Spanish. Growing up, my mums co-workers would always call me ‘El Dorado’ (The Golden One) but it also means the Golden City. Being from San Francisco, that ties into my life as well.
There’s also this mythological component about El Dorado in ancient conquistadores – when they were looking for this lost city made out of gold and no one ever found it. I kind of want to bring elements of my personal life, culture and Latin American mythology together to create a visual world that fans can live in.