DANCING THROUGH DIAGONAL FIELDS WITH GON By Sandra Castillo
The stark, somber imagery plays out in haunting, gracefully ethereal fashion, as male dancers veiled in pearl white surround the one blessed with the kind of visage that lingers in dreams cast from the fantasies of the mind’s eye.Yet, in so many ways, the illusion is very reminiscent of the lights, shadows that traversed the mood scape distilled in the beautiful rumination waltzing across the trajectory of the 1983 film Yentl, starring Barbra Streisand and Mandy Patinkin.
In the epicenter of this cinematic flow and introspection of the video for the song “Alive,” by New York-based artist Gon, a real tug-of-war is being waged in the soul and spirit of the one, who is determined to conquer the inner struggles testing him and the specters that masquerade as dancers pirouetting around him.
RG Magazine recently connected with Gon, who is set to release his debut album, Diagonal Fields, on October 25th. The renowned singer, pianist and composer, who has established himself with audiences throughout his native homeland of Tel Aviv and beyond, spoke with the publication about his music and what it was like for him as a young man, who came to the United States to start over and establish a new life in New York City. Here is what he shared with us-
Let’s introduce the readers to Gon. Talk a bit about your early years growing up in Tel Aviv and how you eventually made your way to the United States.
I was born in 1993 in Jerusalem, Israel. Growing up in Israel was complicated. It’s a beautiful country with a lot to offer, but I never found my place there. People around me were somewhat conservative and being gay AND a musician wasn’t that easy. At 19, I moved to New York City. I wanted to study opera singing, but honestly, I just wanted to run away. Not that my childhood was that terrible, I just needed a fresh start to learn what I wanted to do and be in this life. I stopped enjoying performing classical music half-way through my bachelors degree at Mannes College of Music. I started playing with a band and wrote my own songs. About two years later, I started working on my debut album, Diagonal Fields.
Are any of your family members musically inclined?
Yes! My grandma was a concert pianist for many years; she now runs a non-profit organization to support young musicians.
Does your first name, Gon, mean anything in translation?
Yes, it means color, complexion, shade.
When did you decide to actively pursue music? What propelled you to do so?
My brother took piano lessons. I was five, he was eight. I got jealous and asked to take lessons, too. He stopped playing a couple years after I started, and I kept playing an developed this intimate relationship with this instrument. I’d play for many hours every day, trying to find new harmonies and compose stupid songs. My connection with the piano (and with music) was so rewarding; it made sense that I’d continue doing it as my career.
Who are some of your musical influences?
A lot of classical composers inspired my writing: Debussy, Rachmanioff, Schumann, Strauss. In the past, few years, I’ve been listening a lot to Sufjan Stevens; his album Carrie and Lowell is a true masterpiece. “Release The Stars” by Rufus Wainwright. Sleeping at Last is another major influence. Bon Iver. Bjork.
During my opera studies, I got myself a church gig (you know, so I can afford living in this insanely expensive place). Although I’m not doing opera anymore, I kept this gig, and I’m pretty sure the stunning music of the episcopal church influenced my music-making very much.
How would you personally describe your music?
Cinematic, dreamlike, dense, grand. Vulnerable, beautiful.
Your debut album, Diagonal Fields, is set for release on October 25th. Besides yourself, who else helped you in the recording process of the music on this?
Yoni Marianer and I produced Diagonal Fields together. We took a group of eight musicians to Dreamland Recording Studios in Hurley, New York, and for four days, we all recorded the songs playing together, at the same time-live takes only.
Is it truth or fiction you once had a love-hate relationship with New York City, when you first arrived here?
New York is amazing. This city pushes me forward and allows me to work with amazing artists. But on the other hand, NYC is the birthplace of loneliness and emotional numbness. It’s rough, the city is so competitive and people here are so career-oriented (me, included). Living a normal life and feeling supported and loved is often a challenge for New Yorkers. I’ve been lucky to find a life partner and amazing friends that have made journey possible for me. But without them, I would have left a long time ago.
How did you eventually find your “voice,” the one that takes over Diagonal Fields and fills it to the brim with all this beautiful, stirring, aural musings sure to win over a whole new alliance of fans?
I found my voice through playing, performing and arranging my music multiple times, until it sounded honest enough for me to release it. Having good people around me-at all times-allows me to be honest with myself and make music aiming to enjoy and express myself rather than trying to write the song everyone would love. That’s a big part finding one’s own voice, I believe.
Besides music, what brings you joy?
My friends, my family, chocolate!
What is your current state-of-mind?
Just trying to tell my story. Through music. I hope it works.
For more information, please visit Gon on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube