Interview

GOAT: The Power of Music, Causes and More (Interview)

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Following the release of the senseless ep, Justin Griffith a.k.a. GOAT took my request for an interview. I admire how he handles his musical career and how he inspires other people to be passionate with what they do. His music is a fusion on Hip Hop, Alternative rock and Pop. Other than giving us tips on how to stay buoyant in the seas of challenges that face  independent artists, he also gives us a glimpse into his project H4. You will learn about it as you read along. 
1. How did you come up with the moniker GOAT and what’s the meaning behind it?
When I was around 8 years old, a childhood friend gave me the nickname GOAT. After watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, there’s a part where they say something about a “gnarly ole’ goat dude.” We started calling each other that and it stuck to me. For a long time, my friend Brent was the only person that called me that. I began playing in bands with him years later and the name spread.  Back in probably 1998, I came up with an acronym for it – Grades Of Absolute Truth. So I didn’t choose goat, it was given to me and I gave it meaning later. Within the last few years, I noticed how many people think of evil things when they think about goats, which is completely deceiving regarding my music. That’s when I really started pushing the branding of Grades Of Absolute Truth more.
2. Can you tell us about your latest release and video?
Our new project, the senseless ep, is almost anaural social experiment. After recognizing my life was out-of-control and unhealthy, I decided to design a customized 40-day cleanse based on my weaknesses. I committed to specific diet restrictions and water intake, but also refrained from touching people, intimacy, listening to music, watching TV/movies, documented how many times I visually admired women, and more.  I needed a change for myself and I wanted to build an inspirational bank to write from.  We’re constantly on sensory overload and things bombard our senses every minute – marketing, advertising, entertainment – all targeting your cravings. I wanted to cleanse myself of some of that.  I wanted to get back to the roots of what I feel like lifeshould be about. Less clutter, more substance minus substances.

Photo by Danny Duran

Photo by Danny Duran

After I completed the senseLESS Cleanse, I designed five 48-hour self-induced experiments aimed to deaden one sense at a time. For example, I blind-folded myself for a weekend. It helped me appreciate my blessings more.  The songs from the senseless ep are directly inspired by these experiences.
Our new video, “Hands Around My Throat,” is a story of struggle and addiction.  Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or whatever…we all have vices.  Once something has you by the throat, you’re finished until you make a decision to fight it.  If you defeat it, you can’t ever let that issue out of sight because it’ll sneak back into you.  “Lost in the darkness” is a phrase repeated throughout the song and Director Teddy Cool played with lighting and shadows to back that up.  Glimpses of hope appear in the lyrics and the occasional shots with the bright white background drive that home.  Roger Charo was in charge of editing and special effects – his post-production work blew me away.  Lourdes Mabel did an amazing job of personifying struggle.  We’ve heard several people comment on how creepy she played her role and that’s exactly what we were going for.  If you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss Double J sporadically appearing in the shadows behind me.  I also have to give a shout out to Jordan Palmer of JP2 Photography for makeup and Joel Salazar of Too Fresh Productions for putting in work behind-the-scenes.
3. How’s the music scene in Dallas these days?
It’s on a slow and steady incline. There are struggles like anywhere else, but the talent is thick here. I’ve read and heard that many critics feel like Dallas doesn’t have a sound.  I see that as a strength.  On the other hand, I’m definitely not a representative of mainstream thinking.  I want diversity and multiple flavors to taste.  This is my home, so I fully believe in what it can become.  On any day of the week, there’s multiple shows to choose from.
4. You also play the guitar and other instruments, right? What other musical things do you do?
Yep, my first love was the guitar.  I grew up listening to and idolizing musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Slash from Guns-n-Roses.  That’s where my passion for music began.  Then it slowly progressed into learning more about writing, singing, bass, piano, drums/percussion, sequencing, and production. Honestly, I’m just attracted to anything that has to do with music…it’s my life.
5. How challenging was the recording of the new EP compared to the rest?

The most challenging part of recording the senseless ep was the fact that Double J & I are both crazy perfectionists.  That’s a blessing and a curse.  It’s a blessing because now that it’s complete, it’s exactly how I envisioned it to be.  It’s a curse because it took so long for us to agree that it was finished.  With that said, I’ve never been so ready for that release date.  With past projects, there were always things that I wish I had done.  Not with this one, it was time.

6. You are also doing merchandising. I have seen the T-shirts and other things. Do you think this is necessary for artists in terms of propagating your ideas, style and brand?
Yes, I absolutely think it’s necessary.  When someone believes in what you do enough to wear it across their chest, that’s powerful. That’s always been one of the coolest things people can do to support us.  Because of that, I make it a consistent priority to release fresh and comfymerch – baseball tees, hoodies, thermals, t-shirts,racerback tanks, boy shorts,coozies, stickers, and more.  Plus, it has opened the door to collaborate with visual artists and pushes usto be creative in another way.

7. What are the causes that you are passionate about?

Overall, I feel like we all need to lend a hand when we’re able to.  Back in 2008, I foundedH4 (Hip Hop Helps Heal).  It’s a non-profit collective built on the love of hip hop culture, where egos are left at home and the people involved become selfless.  With close partnership with The Intelligent South, BumTheary,ArtLoveMagic, and more, we pledge to throw benefit shows annually to aid specific concerns of the community.  We’ve raised and contributed thousands of dollars to organizations, such as Genesis Women’s Shelter, Toys For Tots, American Lung Association, National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Susan G.Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Salvation Army, and Children’s Medical Center.  No one involved in our shows gets paid a penny and all profits go directly to the charity we chose.  Hip hopfrequently has negative connotations attached to it, but we try to disprove that mentality the best we can.

8. What’s the best thing about playing live and meeting your listeners?
Playing live is an addiction and I go through withdrawals when I go long periods of time without it.  Feeling the energy and connecting with people in the moment is amazing.  When a listener tells me that a song has helped them through a tough time in their life, that’s one of the best feelings in the world.  Music has always been a form of therapy for me.  So when someone can relate to something I went through and it directly helps them, I think of it as turning something negative into a positive.
9. Who is your mentor?
I’ve never had anyone that I’d call a musical mentor.  There are people that I’ve learned from, but only for short periods of time.
Dr. Paul Tucker and Dr. David Schwarz were two professors I learned a great deal from while studying music at UNT, but I’ve also learned from collaborating and consistently working with other lyricists and musicians.  The internet is something that’s really contributed to my growth, but it’s probably stunted it in ways too.  Tom Jackson, Derek Sivers, and John Oszajca are a few industry leaders that I’ve been following online for a while.  They put amazing info out for indie musicians.

10. What’s your message to your readers?
I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to hear what I’m about.  Please feel free to hit me up anytime, it’s always cool to connect.  You can also sign up to get 7 free songs on my site.  Check out the LIVE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM page while you’re there too!

Instagram – @musicbyGOAT
Twitter – @musicbyGOAT
Thanks for the invite Baxter!
There you go. Another inspiring interview. Check out his links and give your support. This artist is amazing!
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