In 2010, an idealistic Garrett Neal moved from Baltimore to the Twin Cities to chase his music dreams.
Neal, a beatmaker and multi-instrumentalist, would meet Ashley Gold two years later. At the time, Gold was writing and performing solo, and Neal was working the door at now-shuttered Minneapolis venue Cause. Late one night, after catching experimental rock collective Dream Crusher, Neal impulsively went onstage and began fiddling with the keyboards.
“Ash got up there with me, grabbed the mic, and started improving,” he remembers. “It was 2 o’clock in the morning, and they left the sound and lights on for us and let it roll. That’s how we met. The most beautiful thing about creating these moments is that you’re a conduit for [the] music.”
From that chance encounter came Holidae, Neal and Gold’s electro-pop project. This past February, the duo won the Star Tribune’s Are You Local? best new band contest. Prizes include a trip to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, where they played a Minnesota showcase featuring Har Mar Superstar, Night Moves, and last year’s Picked to Click champions, Bad Bad Hats. In August, Holidae scored a slot on 89.3 the Current’s “Artists to Watch” event.
Gold and Neal like to keep things local with their live show, integrating Twin Cities dancers and visual artists, plus costumes made by hometown designers. If you attended a block party this summer, odds are you saw Holidae perform.
Even though Holidae just released their debut album, April’s Tantrum, they’re already back in the studio, hoping to release their sophomore LP by next spring. The pair works flexibly. Sometimes Gold comes up with an idea, sometimes it’s Neal. From there, the creative process harks back to the night they formed — interacting, taking chances, and letting the music grow from that space. The formula is not complicated; it’s about honestly embracing nowness, and never being tied to genre or convention.
The resulting tracks bloom into sleek, spacey pop gems — think Purity Ring, or even onetime local stars Lookbook. There’s substance at the core, too, as the songs carry the same weight with just piano and vocals.
Despite Holidae’s busy year, Gold continues to churn out solo R&B music, noting, “I get so much joy from it.”
“We’ve had a tremendous year, and we are nothing but grateful,” Gold says. “I feel so much gratitude for the work we put in and continue to put in and grind out. Whatever happens, it just feels very good to make your art, and it affects more [people] than me.”