Truth Be Sold is rapper Goya Gumbani’s fifth project this year – it’s fair to say 2020 has been a reflective and prolific year for him. The EP, out today November 13th, is a meditative process of working through existential realisations about selfhood and the ways of the world – this is combined with production by Oliver Palfreyman that is sweeping and beautiful, combining a mix of classical and contemporary sounds.
The passing of his sister was the motivation to follow his passion for music, and that determination through struggle is exactly what strives creative people to keep working and expressing themselves, and to keep creating works that are truthful and reflective of the moments they capture. Goya’s new video, Ways of Mine is out today, and we take the opportunity to discuss his new release as well as this year’s ups and downs.
In terms of how you have cultivated your music thus far, what was the beginning point for you? What made you realise music was going to be your way of expressing yourself to the world?
The passing of a sibling.
You were born in New York and moved to London as a teenager, do you feel you take influences from both places? Did the move change you musically?
Well, I don’t know about changed, but it widened it. Later in my life, I was introduced to grime, garage, UK lovers rock, etc. – all exceptional genres.
You’ve been having an incredibly prolific year, releasing four EPs and a handful of videos too. Have you had more time than ever to work on your music? How has the pandemic affected that process?
Erm, it’s been weird because I have enough time to do everything (which is weird), but I’ve been working on myself mostly. It feels ite. The pandemic has been a sly blessing in disguise.
The first track on this EP, It All Depends, has a small section of talking, referring to music as a ‘spiritual language.’ Even the EP title, Truth Be Sold, is trying to suggest getting back to this sense of music as a force of nature that can speak for itself. Could you tell us a bit more about the ideas here?
One part of it is everything you gain comes with a price, good and bad. Another is over all they have taught us – time is the most valuable. And another is music is a 100% a spiritual language.
There is such an eclectic mix of sounds on Truth Be Sold – there are orchestral moments, pianos, jazz influences. There’s something organic about the way it has been put together too, with all these influences coming together seamlessly. Do you write extensively before getting into the studio or does the music come first in the creation process before the words?
I don't write anything beforehand really, it's all just about the ‘in the moment’ feeling of releasing thoughts. Oliver Palfreyman is a wizard with the production, man, the coming together was too natural. Every part of it just happened.
The newest single, Fight for Love, has such beautiful layering – the gorgeous vocals, classical moments as well as the story that you are telling through your words. I couldn’t help but think it was creating and capturing this short but beautiful moment in time – even the video feels like that too. Do you see writing songs as about capturing particular moments in time?
TBH yes, most my raps are about moments in time and certain memories that I’ve held on to without realising.
I love your appreciation for the production work that goes into making music as well as the lyrics, and that’s reflected in the fact that all of your projects credit the producer as well as yourself as the artist. What does that collaborative process between the producer and the lyricist mean to you?
It means everything; producers are artists! I can also produce, so I know the technicalities that the role comes with – they put in as much work as the rapper/front person too. It's like at the end of the day, what are the raps without the beat? Spoken word?
Motivation is something else I found coming out of these songs, that desire to keep going and keep pushing yourself. On Ways of Mine, you talk about how it takes persistence to grow from your lows. You are discussing inner struggle and trauma, and that’s something that resonates with so many people. What does it mean to you to know your music is connecting with people?
It means a lot, I didn’t know it would feel like this. I’m glad people get it and can relate. I was always rapping for myself, but just before my sister passed away, she told me to put my shit out and stop bugging out about shit in my head, and her words sparked the flame.
Speaking of motivation, do you set goals for yourself in terms of the things you want to achieve, people you want to work with in the future?
(Laughs) On god, I do an achievement diagram December every year for the following year. Normally, I achieve 89% (lol). People to work with… erm, I never did but I might start next year.
Lastly, there is a lot of wisdom in these songs about remembering what’s important and reflection on the things that have shaped you. In your words, how would you describe this EP and what it has meant for you?
It’s me talking to myself about recent revelations within myself and the world, taking back the knowledge to my foundation and my people. Freedom from the distractions, what death is to life, etc. It’s just another piece to the puzzle really.