An interview/profile on MaryGold from Vice/Noisey:
MARY GOLD IS THE BEST NUDIST QUASI-VOODOO SINGER FROM NEW ORLEANS YOU'LL HEAR THIS WEEK
By Lauren Nostro - Noisey / Vice
A few weeks ago, I interviewed Director X on Drake's 10-minute long "Worst Behavior" video. For those of us that got to the end of it, you would've seen Drake smoking in the car while "From Time" played chopped and slopped in the background, passing the blunt to an unknown woman. X forgot her name, but said she was an artist that inspired Drake. It turns out that he was talking about Mary Gold, and thus began my search to find out just exactly who she is.
She's claimed the throne as the "first lady of Curren$y's Jet Life recordings," after linking up with Mousa Hamden, Spitta's manager, on Twitter. But she won't identify as a female singer, or a female rapper—she's a creator. Her success is a lesson for everyone who spams out their videos and songs: if you've got the talent, it'll work. A few weeks later, she was sitting at Jet Lounge talking to Curren$y and eventually, traveling to Memphis to meet up with Drake for the "Worst Behavior" video.
But none of her connections really speak for her music. She's not making the high-class stoner-rap of Curren$y, and she's not caught in her feelings like Drake can get. Mary Gold is entirely captivating; her music is hauntingly isolated, chilling, drawing influence equally from vintage UK dance music, Miles Davis, blunted hip-hop, and the voodoo traditions of her hometown. She's ready to take you on a spiritual journey with her latest mixtape, Sex Hormone'd Druggie.
It took me quite a bit to find her on Twitter but once I did, and at 1 a.m., I came across her fetishized video for "Prayer." If you check out her Twitter bio, you'll get a quick introduction to the 22-year-old Louisiana native: she's a self-proclaimed "cunt, nudist, and treehugger." The manipulation of her vocals on the intro track to Sex Hormone'd Druggie gave me nightmares—"Mother Mary, come to me / Mother Mary, come to me." We got on the phone the other day to talk about spirtuality, whether or not she's a Nephilim, vibing with Drake, and her debut project.
Noisey: Let’s talk about the new project, Sex Hormone’d Druggie. I’m going to be honest with you, there’s parts of the tape I can’t listen to alone at night.
Mary Gold: I'm a spiritual person, I don't really believe in a structured religion. I don't know. I've had so many weird experiences with spirituality and religion period. Like my life revolves around that. Being in North Carolina pretty much changed my whole life and the way I look at things. I remember meeting the weirdest people, I met this one guy who thought he was the Devil. We would get high in the bathroom and turn the showers on and once everyone left the bathroom, all of the fog would leave. Because you know you put on the shower and it would fog up the windows. We would talk about how he felt like he was going to destroy the world, and the fog would come back and fog up the windows and nothing would happen, like why stuff like that would happen?
I used to think that I was a Nephilim. I entice people, people would come to me if they were looking for something and I would help them find their way. Because a lot of my relationships and friendships ended when my friends found different paths, or found themselves, or went in different directions to become better people.
What made you stop thinking that you were one?
I'm trying to think more realistically about life. I honestly feel in some kind of weird world that I am Mother Mary. (Laughs) I feel like I’ve created a lot of people. My ex-boyfriend, our relationship started with him telling me not to think too much of what was going on. I take things like that as challenges. He really fell in love with me, and I truly did care for him, but it was more of manipulation of anything. I never understood exactly what that really was or how powerful manipulation really is until after it was all over and I sat back and looked at it.
I feel like I’m Mother Mary because I can get into anybody’s personality. I can be anything anybody wanted and it wouldn’t be fake. It’s just who I am. I’m just well rounded. Coming from a structured home, I could easily sit down with someone of religious background and be just as religious as they are, but still go up to a stripper and understand everything that she’s saying or she’s talking about without judging her.
Tell me a little bit about where you grew up.
I’m from Louisiana, I grew up on the west bank, which is five minutes from the city. I spent all of my time in the city though. My parents used to drop me off, go to the casino there and I used to hang out and talk to bums on the street about life.
My family is very structured. My whole family is Baptist. But I pretty much had to distance myself from my family, ever since I've been alive, because my family's very judgmental. They care about what other people think and I always had to grow up with, "Why are you acting so white? I'd be like, "I didn't know you could act white, I just thought you were a person." I pretty much tried to be myself and find my own way here and it was very hard.
What were they judgmental about, exactly?
I think it's the things I was into and what I wanted to do and how I wanted to dress or appear to everyone outside of my house. I started really getting my own identity when I started high school because I was allowed to actually go places with my friends. I picked up soccer, my parents always wanted me to run track. With that, there was a whole different group of people that I started interacting with. My friends would go home and cut off all their hair, come to school bald and people would go insane. Or they would go and pierce themselves or just crazy things. We used to all hang out together and just be on Bourbon Street by ourselves with no parents around and enjoy the outside and the culture of New Orleans. And even though my parents are very structured, they spent their time in casinos.
Did that affect your relationship with them?
It was pretty twisted thinking coming from me because I was confused. We would go sit in church on Sunday but my parents would spend their nights in casinos. My mom's a teacher and my dad's a geologist. There was a lot of education and a lot of "You should be like this and you should be that" but then there's that opposite side to it. That's where I get my perspective from; God is still present but there are still those vices that you have.
Once you finished high school, did you go to college?
I went to college at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. My parents graduated from there, I didn't have a choice, they shipped me there. I did not want to go to college at all. I wanted to stay home and maybe work a trade. But it was North Carolina or the streets, so I went to college. My parents wanted me to major in Geology because my dad's a geologist. (Laughs) College was so horrible, it was the most horrible experience of my life. I dropped out twice. Everything I wanted to do while I was in New Orleans, I did it in college.
I pierced everything on my face—my nose, I pierced my lip a hundred times, got my nipples pierced. I got tattoos, I went insane. I remember my mom coming to visit me the first time and I got in the car and I couldn't look at her. I looked out the window the whole time. And my mom was like, "Hey, how are you? What's goin' on? Look at me!" I looked at her and she's like, "Get out of the car right now! How could you do this your face? You're ugly now.” I took it out and we go to J.C. Penney's and I try on some clothes, we're in the dressing room and I'm like, "Why the fuck did I do that? Why did I take it out?" I finally got up the strength to tell my mom "You know, this is me and if you can't take that then we might as well not be in each other's lives. Because this is so small for you to react in such a big way. That was the beginning of me.
Are you still close with your family now?
I think we're getting there, they're coming to accept the things that I do more than they did which is cool.
So you go from New Orleans to a small town in North Carolina. What was the first year like for you?
It hurt so bad. Everything went from color to gray because in North Carolina you get your seasons, like it gets cold, it snows. I'd never experienced anything like that. Well, not really to the point where I had to be there by myself without my family, just me not knowing anyone for real, it was depressing. People forced themselves into my life. It was wild. I felt like people are more attracted to things that they kind of don’t understand.
I just didn't want to be associated with anybody. I had the biggest hair ever so everyone knew who I was but nobody knew me by name, they would call me Skater Girl because I would be outside skating. I'm not good, I’m not excellent but it was something to do to keep my mind off things. I would skate from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. so I could be on time for my class.
Was it a competitive thing?
Pretty much. I remember right before we ended our relationship he told me if I did music, he couldn't be with me because I would be stealing his dream. So we're not together at all. Me and my friend McKayla had a group called Mary Jane and I wrote all the songs, I picked out the instrumentals. It was alternative. I dropped out of college after.
The first time I dropped out of college I had fibroid tumors and I had to have surgery and everything, so I went home. My family in North Carolina, my grandma and me, we have a horrible relationship so they didn't really help me out much while I was sick so I just went home.
Where did that animosity stem from with that side of the family?
My dad knew my mom from North Carolina and every time we would go back home, my cousins always felt as if we thought we were better than them because we had more—but it was never like that. My parents always taught us to respect other people and we were never selfish kids. When I was younger I was so innocent I knew nothing of anything so I never had a chance to have anyone be jealous of me or I never put anything in anyone's faces about what I had because I didn't care about it. Friends I had just met helped me more than my family did when I got sick.
So you were forced to move home?
I convinced my friend McKayla to move to New Orleans. She wanted to be a model and I wanted to continue doing music. She moved down here with me in my house with my family and my parents were like, "Well, since you're walking around, you might as well go back to school." I enrolled in SUNO here in New Orleans, Southern University New Orleans, and I went there for two weeks then I dropped out. (Laughs)
I would go and record songs at this guy's studio, in his closet, who I met at SUNO. Instead of going to class I went to his grandmother's house and recorded. At that moment, I was stuck on Lupe Fiasco’s band, Japanese Cartoon. I wanted to scream and go wild and have insane beats and just be alternative. I couldn't find a link to the whole project so I would go on YouTube and download individual songs.
So, when you started recording in this guy’s closet, did you drop out of school for good?
I convinced my parents that I was going to go back to school in North Carolina one more time and I did. McKayla moved back to Virginia Beach and I went back to school for a semester. I changed my major to mass communication. I learned how to work the camera a little bit. I edited some videos and did some radio things and it was weird. I pretty much slept through the semester but I passed. I totally didn't go back after that. I went back to New Orleans again, I don't want to disappoint my parents because they're so quick to use that word, disappointed, and it hurts. So, I got a job and I was a technology technician for a high school. I didn't even last a month and I quit.
After leaving college, when did you start recording music?
I came home and I decided to make a mixtape. I went to this guy's closet almost every day and I would be searching for beats on YouTube, I found a bunch of stuff and I put it together. And I released my first project and it was called Naked Deviltry. McKayla actually didn't like that I kept using Mary Jane so that's why I changed it to Mary Gold. I released Viva la Coke after that. Then, I linked up with Curren$y through Mousa. I remember tweeting out the link to the Prayer video, like thousands of times. I had no idea who Mousa was. He followed me, and I followed him, and he asked me to meet up. We met up at a video shoot for Curren$y. We didn't actually sit down and have a conversation, but that's the first time I met him.
Time goes by, they have Jet Lounge and they invited me there. Afterwards, we all went to a pizza shop across the street and that's where I officially met Curren$y. When I walked in I had these Spice Girl boots that I will never give up, I got them from the thrift store. And then the heel comes off of my shoe so I'm just trying to get to the table. And he helps me get back on my shoe and I was like, "You are so cool, man."
That’s quite a greeting. When did you officially sign with them?
Yeah. (Laughs) We made it official maybe a week or two before I flew out to Memphis to meet Drake.
I hear you two linked on Twitter, and then you pop up at the end of “Worst Behavior." You’re living the dream—smoking in a car with Drake.
He followed me on Twitter, and then on Instagram and everything. I remember waking up at like, 5 a.m. and I was like, “What? What is happening right now?” It was so crazy because a few weeks before, he tweeted a line from one of my songs. It was like, “Young shell with a wise mind. Mary.”
That's wild, because your project wasn’t even out yet.
Yeah. I was going to go to Canada right before his tour but I didn’t have a passport and the government was shut down. So I waited to go to Memphis.
Right. I was in Memphis for a day. We left Memphis and drove to Pittsburgh, and that’s where he had his first show. I stayed for the show, woke up and caught a flight that morning. We really got to talking, and he shared some of his feelings on being with Cash Money/Young Money forever. And it made me feel like he’s just a person. You would think that they didn’t look at themselves as regular people. It’s a totally different world, and it made me seem like we did share the same world, and that was a great feeling. I have issues or I have worries about that world changing who I am. And to know that I connected with somebody who still is the same and is in that world... I was talking to Drake and I was like, “You know, I don’t want to rap.” And then Oliver [El Khatib] was like, “You’ve got bars.” I didn’t rap for them, but they’ve heard—they think "Prayer" is rapping. He seems like he’s hella busy right now, so maybe when he gets off tour we’ll do a song together.
Did you rap for him?
I made "Grand Theft" because of Drake. I promised him I’d make it, so I did it. He’s like, “You got to rap one more time,” and I was like, “I promise.” And the day I got home, I recorded the song and I sent it to him. And he was like, “This is amazing.”
Speaking of "Mother Mary," that intro is the song that made me feel a bit scared.
Mother Mary, the first idea came from me actually wanting people to listen to it as if it was a séance. I want it to feel séancey so it will pull you in to listen to the second track pretty much. That was the whole idea. As if it was a calling. I think everything that happens is spiritual, it's very scary because it's not of the norm, it's crazy. I feel full energies—this is why I like to make music about it so I won’t have to really explain it in words.
I know you’re a self-proclaimed nudist, but who were those other people in the video?
I always was comfortable with who I was, like I know this sounds crazy, but when I was like, probably like 16 I used to like take pictures of like my butt in the mirror. (Laughs) I never had major insecurities, I do have some, but I'm not afraid to let people see them or know what they are. That's how I've always been. I grew up with a bunch of guys so it's like I understand life for what it is as a female—from a female aspect and a male aspect. I was really happy to be able to express how I felt through it and do what I wanted to do creatively. There’s inserts [of footage in the video]. I know none of those people. Let’s just be honest. I know none of those people.
Where did you find the footage?
(Laughs) The guy who directed the video is really into some wild stuff. He has some crazy footage lying around of couples doing wild stuff. I’m tied in that yarn. That’s the only thing. That’s it. Everything else is not me. People in the comments are like, “At 1:36, I see you fingering yourself.” That’s not me.
I don’t even want to ask, but what do you parents think about everything now?
My parents are still the same. (Laughs) My dad is like, “If you’re making money then that’s cool.” My mom thinks that people can pretty much influence me to do whatever. I don’t know why she thinks that. She thinks the world is influencing me to be this crazy person, and I’m telling her, you know, this is who I am. I remember the other day she called me and she was like, “My coworker told me she just saw your video and she’s so ashamed of you. She’s so disappointed. What are you doing?” I told my mom, I was like, “If you really want to know what I’m doing I’ll sit you down, I’ll play you my video. I’ll play you my whole mixtape if you want.” And she was like, “If it has nudity in it I don’t want to see it.” And I was like, “Well, you don’t want to see it.” (Laughs)