CMJ 2009 Interview: Arms

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CMJ Music Marathon 2009  Arms 

Written By:

Gareth Jones

22nd October 2009
At 13:20 GMT

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One man band Arms is the performing alias for Todd Goldstein. As a musician Todd has been in a few other projects the most widely known being a band called Harlem Shakes. After they disbanded not long ago Todd formed Arms to pursue a solo career, and what appears to be a fairly successful one at that. 

Now with all his time dedicated to Arms and the support of three labels across the world, we can see Todd propelling his alternative folk music to new heights and CMJ is just the start.

Strange Glue had a heart-to-heart with Todd to see how much he was looking forward to the CMJ Music Marathon.

SG: I understand that you recently released your debut record in the UK and the international release will be during CMJ. Can you tell us a little bit more about the record and its progress?

Todd: Kids Aflame actually came out in the UK a year ago last summer -- so it's been out over there for a while, in music years. It's new to US audiences, though, so we're putting it out again in US this month. I recorded Kids Aflame over a few years, writing the songs slowly and recording them gradually in my bedroom and in friends' basements. I'm pretty proud of it -- it's a lot simpler and sweeter than the stuff I've been making recently, and reflects a particularly melancholy time of my life. It's both comforting and strange to be playing those songs live, so many years after writing them.

SG: You were also a member of Harlem Shakes, how different is the performance and recording style for your solo career?

Todd: Harlem Shakes and ARMS have existed as polar opposites for a long time. The Shakes were a very cerebral, carefully composed, professionally recorded creative collaboration between the five of us in the band. Live, we shot for tons of energy, explosions of good times fun etc. In ARMS, I record everything myself (which makes for a certain amount of unprofessionalism...), write it all by myself, and play my live shows in a slow, deliberate kind of style. The new ARMS band is a three piece, and it sounds awesome -- and I think I've internalized a good bit of the Shakes' tight arrangement style. You'll see - we're debuting the band at CMJ.

SG: What's the best thing about New York City for you?

Todd: My favourite thing about New York is that it is never, ever boring.

SG: Have you been to CMJ before and what are your thoughts about playing such a vibrant festival?

I've played several CMJs, now - although I have to say i've never been to a CMJ show other than my own. I never have time.

SG: Is it just you performing the Arms set or are you joined by any other talented musicians?

Todd: It'll be me, a drummer, and a bassist/singer. The harmonies alone are worth the price of admission.

SG: If you could pick one musician to perform alongside, who would it be and why?

Todd: Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon. Mark Kozelek is one artist whose music has really made me feel something over the last few years. I'd love to just shake his hand, let alone play with him.

SG: WIll you be attending anything from the film side of the festival?

Todd: Don't think so. Busy week!

SG: Are you intending to have an active 2010? Any new material or tours?

Todd: Well, next year should still be a busy one. I'm writing new material for a record with the band, and hopefully get out on tour early in the year. Lots of shows, lots of practice and writing, some recording.

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