DozenQ – Empire of Gold

DozenQ – Empire of Gold

This entry is part 15 of 19 in the series DozenQ 4

Born in San Diego, California in 1987 and raised in Tecate, Mexico until the age of 8 when he then moved to the United States – producer/singer/songwriter, Michael Jack Dole, lived somewhat of a nomadic childhood. His vast array of early life experiences laid the foundation for Dole’s lyrical creativity which he vividly captures and illustrates in his somber, yet beautifully raw crafted lyrics.

The name ‘Empire of Gold’ was inspired by a homeless man Dole met on Venice Beach who, after listening to him play a few songs, told him “keep doing what you’re doing kid – it’s like you’re building an empire of gold!” Even though the man seemed to be poking fun at the idea of such a grand dream, Dole found encouragement and challenge in the man’s words and decided to do just that. Some of his many early inspirations include Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith, Green Day, John Lennon and specifically Conor Oberst – mostly for his lyrics and his ability to ‘make poems come to life!’ Eyeplug shot some Questions his way recently…

01 How did you get started in music?

I got my first guitar as a present when I was 14 and took lessons at a local music store for a year. After a year I felt I wasn’t learning anything worth spending money on, so I stopped and just started playing by ear. I didn’t get serious about writing music until I was a freshman in college. I had moved from Chicago to California all by myself and I would play and write music when I felt depressed or lonely. That is when I really started accumulating a huge catalogue of songs – from summer of 2005 till 2014; when I started recording and taking music much more seriously.

02 Where did your direction come from?

My direction came from a dark, depressing time in my life. I had a rough childhood in which I lost both my parents and moved to America from Mexico at the age of 8. I was then raised by my aunt and uncle until I was emancipated at 18 and made the decision to move to California. This was initially my starting point of all my creative writing.

03 Who were your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?

At first my major influences ranged from metal (Slipknot, Mudvayne) to punk acts of the 90’s (Green Day, Offspring). But at the heart of it all, it was musicians like John Lennon, Elliott Smith and Conor Oberst that really inspired me to get creative with my writing. I started off completely as an acoustic artist, with 90% of my songs written in this form. The musicians and bands that I would consider my major influences today had completely slipped under my radar when I was growing up; those being Nirvana, Melvins, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains and just the grunge movement in general. When I finally came into contact with these types of acts, they sparked something deep within me and just catapulted me into a whole new level from then on.

I don’t really despise any artist. Even the genres that I don’t enjoy listening to (Pop, Country, anything having a commercial or heavily processed mainstream sound), I still have respect for as artists.

04 What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?

It really boils down to the changes we have seen in the music business in recent times. I’m just a guy that feels he was born too late and missed the great explosion of early 90’s rock; that being the musical revolution that took over and made MTV a channel full of greatness instead of the crap is showcases now. If I can just somehow, some way, bring a little piece of that back, I will have succeeded as a musician in my own eyes.

05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then & possibly even now?

As of right now, I am a one man band. I don’t necessarily like doing acoustic sets, so I don’t perform live. I want to keep Empire of Gold as a solo project so I don’t expect to be doing any live sets until I can acquire some session players. Which costs some pretty Dollars of course!

06 How do you begin your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

I grew up listening to melody instead of lyrics. As a kid I didn’t think lyrics were important. It was all about the melody and movement of the song. So when I started writing music, that’s what I would focus on first and still do to this day. When I can get a song to “move” me and make me feel emotion with no lyrics, then I know I have a song and then begin to write lyrics. While I’m in the process of writing the melody, I always get a sense of what type of a story or emotion would fit the song and that is what I base the subject matter on.

I will say it’s usually a depressing tone. I don’t like, or I guess am just not good at, writing happy go-lucky songs.

07 How did your music evolve since you first began playing?

Lyrically and emotionally it hasn’t. What has evolved immensely is the style. It has evolved from acoustic singer-songwriter to a stripped down, raw grunge act.

08 What has been your biggest challenge? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

My biggest challenge has by far been producing and engineering my own music. I had to buckle down at my job and save a lot of money to finance my “studio”, which is in a closet… but also learning the skill and art form that music engineers have had to hone in on. It’s been a LONG two-year process of learning how to record the best sound, which microphones, best mic pre amps, which interface, how to EQ, compress, different types of compressors, automate, limit, how to pan instruments, which reverb, how to use reverb, what levels, digital or analogue, summing, blah, blah, blah the list goes on!

There has been many times in my walk with music that I’ve wanted to just give up, but I always told myself that I would be that guy that looked back and could tell others, “It’s hard.. very hard at first, but just keep going and with trial and error, you will learn the craft and be able to look back and smile at all your hard work.” I know I took the road less traveled, instead of just hiring a professional, but in the end I think it’s what sets me apart even more. From concept to production to distribution, it’s all me, and it feels damn good.

09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

I don’t know if there is one song in particular, but there is an album. I want, and will, cover Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album raw and straight from the heart just like Kurt wanted to.

10 Where did you envisage being in five years time?

I envisage being backed by a label. I kind of prefer a small label in which we can grow together. But within five years, I see being well-known and being a musician as a full-time job.

11 Who would you most like to record with?

Dead: Kurt Cobain Alive: Paul McCartney (At least meet!)

12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

I will be releasing my debut LP “Crass” with a couple of singles with music videos to appear before it’s release.

Web Links:

Series NavigationDozenQ – DeadphonecallsDozenQ – Daniel Bennett Group


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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August 3, 2015 By : Category : DozenQ,Features,Front page,Interviews,Music,Post-punk,Rock Tags:, ,
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