Boy Golden Is a Canadian Cannabis Hero
"When legalization happened, I worried that cannabis culture in Canada would look like a high school stoner basement"
Published May 26, 2021If 2021 has a cannabis anthem, it's undoubtedly "Church of Better Daze," the debut single from Winnipeg singer-songwriter Boy Golden. Over a barrelling country rock groove full of sawing fiddle and twangy slide, Boy Golden rattles off a tongue-twisting, weed-themed sermon — think the delivery of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" mixed with the lyrics of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35."
He drawls, "You're gonna light it up, flick, sip, puff / Pass it along when you've had enough / Share it with the crowd, don't let it hit the ground / And when it comes back, just start another round," offering a laid-back manifesto for cannabis consumption and collective good vibes.
Boy Golden makes weed references in every song on forthcoming debut album Church of Better Daze — out July 16 on Six Shooter Records — although the title track is the only one explicitly and entirely about his favourite plant. He also tells us about the role pot plays in his musical process, how he went about making a lo-fi bedroom record with some help from Joel Plaskett, and what exactly it means to be a member of the Church of Better Daze.
What do you smoke and how do you consume it?
I prefer sativa strains, as I have a habit of working all day. I don't like to get too chilled out. I pretty much only smoke joints or spliffs. Rolling is a relaxing ritual. I like going outside to smoke as well. Mix in a little fresh air — I hear that's good for ya.
I don't really smoke large amounts. Some people can consume a surprising amount of cannabis and still function perfectly. For me, it's all about a slight perspective shift. Also, when combined with a fair bit of coffee, it turns into what I call a "studio speedball," and I can work all day.
What do you like to do when you smoke?
I'm pretty much always working (making music) when I'm stoned. I stay straight if I'm doing admin work or just going about my day. To me, there is no point in shifting my state of mind for those activities. I like to smoke as a way to come back to whatever I'm doing with fresh ears and a different frame of mind.
Of course, I also like to ride bikes, skateboard and snowboard with a little cannabis in the system. That always feels great.
What do you think about the recent changes in cannabis culture?
Legalization had to happen. I am for the decriminalization and legalization of all drugs. Harm reduction is the way forward. Cannabis prohibition has been incredibly and unfairly damaging to communities of colour in Canada and the U.S. I am extremely privileged to have smoked regularly most of my life without much concern for the legal consequences. Still, as of this summer, only around 260 people had been pardoned for their cannabis offences in Canada — this is a travesty!
Of course, legalization comes with it's own set of problems — the same problems that exist in corporate culture everywhere — but at least there will be fewer people in jail for something that never should have been illegal.
When legalization happened, I worried that cannabis culture in Canada would look like a high school stoner basement, but that hasn't really been the case. Pretty much everything feels the same, except now there are health warnings about cannabis in public — which is great! That is the correct approach to dealing with substance use.
Where in your city is great for cannabis?
I enjoy having a wee puff outside Time Change(d) High & Lonesome Club. Afterwards, I recommend going inside to hear some great music. Treat yourself to some ripple chips and French onion dip. Can't go wrong with chips and dip.
Biking or skating around the city is a great way to spend time and see some parts of Winnipeg you wouldn't otherwise see.
Are there hidden (or not-so-hidden) cannabis references in your music?
They are not hidden! I did not intend for cannabis to be a theme in my music, but when I finished the record, there it was. On almost every song! I was a bit surprised with myself.
However, it is not possible for me to lie in song. It is not possible and certainly not desirable. Pot is a part of my life as it is a part of many people's lives, and that's fine. It's not what the record is about, but it's a part of it.
The only song explicitly about cannabis is "Church of Better Daze." Other songs contain references to pot, but they are about other things.
Who are your Canadian cannabis heroes?
I like anybody who is working to reduce the stigma around cannabis use and is showing that it can be part of a normal life. Albertan country singer Mariel Buckley is great for that.
Tommy Chong I guess?
Can you tell us a bit about your debut album and what listeners can expect?
The debut album is called Church of Better Daze. It is about the way I wish things were. It is about the way I want to live my life. There are some love songs, some songs about living cheaply and happily.
The whole record is made with a drum machine as the rhythm section (a la J.J. Cale). It is a distinctly lo-fi vibe, because I made it in my bedroom, and it was mixed to tape by Joel Plaskett. I really like the album. I think it is good and I am proud to be putting it out!
The church and cannabis aren't typically synonymous. Can you elaborate on the religious framework of your project, and what role cannabis plays in that?
I'm not so sure about that! Depends on your culture. The song "Church of Better Daze" was inspired by the keyboard player, KG, in a gospel band led by American musician and theologian Reverend Sekou. This guy was a beautiful musician and a spiritual man, but he also smoked a lot of pot. To me, it felt like it was part of his spirituality.
My project does not have a formal religious framework. It is a Church in the sense that it is a community and it has shared values. I am looking to honour a higher power: music. I look to serve the music and my community by being mindful and putting my love into the work. That said, you can have other religious beliefs but still be a member of my Church!
For me, cannabis is my sacrament. However, not all the members of the Church feel the same. Many people I work and play with do not smoke, and that is fine. I don't drink these days, that's fine too! It's about a state of mind and a shared vision, not about the substance. Smokin' weed works for me.