Reaching Another Level | An Interview With Meg Gildehaus Of Gilda House

After the release of AB Side A in 2021, Meg Gildehaus discovered that something needed to be changed within her musical project Gilda House.  Infusing musicians Nick Miles and Tony Morales on drums and guitars/synths propelled Gildehaus into exploring more terrain within her work to heights higher than she intended.  Gilda House now could be more ambitious, with dynamic songwriting and a lush, vibrant production.

Be Edise (out now) captures a cosmic experience with a flourishing collection of indie-pop, synth-wave, trip-hop, and everything in between. Mixed by Grammy-nominate producer Alex Newport, each of Be Edise‘s six tracks radiates with character and purpose. Gildehaus gently grabs your hand and strolls through a dreamy environment that centers on looking inward. Taking action and creating meaning is vitally important in the lyrics, she also guides listeners through a seeming point of view of a young adult woman living within our profoundly flawed society. With choices made carefully, however, comes meaningful change and a better scope of what can be derived.

I feel that Billings doesn’t get the flowers it deserves. What could you tell me is being slept on within the town?

Flowers for Billings, yes! Agreed. I love Montana and I love Billings. Billings is big enough to be a little city but small enough that it’s not oversaturated, with everyone clamoring for the same opportunities. I believe there’s room to build the type of things you want to see here, not just to survive while trying to “keep up .” For us, that’s especially exciting as we build onto our local music scene while aiming to participate regionally and nationally. Billings also has great close access to the natural beauty of Montana, is affordable, and the pace of life is comfortable. You can hustle and find peace and quiet here – both things I enjoy. 

Who were some of the artists that you looked to when growing up?

One of my first music loves was Stevie Wonder. My parents had Stevie’s Original Musiquarium two-disc compilation and we burned laps on that…in the CD player and dancing around this weird middle column portion of the house we lived in at the time. To be honest, growing up I loved dancing and a lot of music I listened to was from a dance-centric point of view rather than artist-centric. Lady Gaga released “Just Dance” when I was in the eighth grade and that’s one of the first memories I have of being enamored with the artist behind the music. 

How quickly did Nick and Tony’s inclusion come into the fold with Gilda House feel complete?

Finding Nick and Tony feels meant to be in that they both quickly expanded what Gilda House could be when they joined. Tony joined first, Nick second, and it feels complete with everyone on the same page working hard, being kind, and contributing what we can to this band.

I wrote and produced the first two Gilda House EPs on my laptop and recorded them in my house. For the release of AB Side A, I agreed to a socially distanced release show in April of 2021 with about two months to promote and prepare. I essentially had no band and no idea how this music would translate live. Scary!!! But let’s go. Tony had heard some mixes from Sean, who was also mastering for him at the time. He reached out to me on Instagram, and we started talking synths. I told him I could use a synth player if he were interested, and he’s been part of the sound, structure, and vibe ever since. To this day, I doubt we could have pulled off that release show if I had never met Tony. 

Nick came into the fold quickly and smoothly when we were down a drummer at the end of last summer, and like Tony, his timing was serendipitous and he brought his passion, work ethic, and skillset into our project without missing a beat (ha). It felt like we grew and tightened another level when he joined because he joined. I didn’t know Nick beforehand, but three people on separate occasions suggested him as a drummer and spoke highly of him. Nick is a fantastic and animated drummer; he also programs the light show we are adding to the set with the release of Be Edise. Nick joined the band right as we were doing the final push of finishing Be Edise in the studio and he slid right into that and added to the writing as well. 

Songs that were going to be on AB Side A‘s companion Side B got scrapped. Have you thought about going back to them at any point?

I always go back and comb through old ideas to see if there are any good eggs. These scrapped songs were mostly lyrics and a few melody ideas, but mostly lyrics because I had conceptually written all 12 songs lyrically before putting music to any of them. I then tackled Side A first. Starting Side B with the lyrics I had drafted felt really boxed into this linear story I started and I was just forcing that to work. It was good to scrap them, give it time to figure out a new approach, and come at part two as a response and reflection on the themes in part one instead of a continued story. 

I recently combed through old logic sessions of half-baked ideas from Side A and Be Edise and flagged a few to revisit as well. I love doing that. Fun fact I’ll share real quick – on Side A, I struggled with the song Terra for a few months and kept re-producing it trying different sounds, feels, and vibes. I ended up pretty close to the initial idea, but the structure and feel for Same Same came from a half-baked Terra idea that really didn’t work as Terra.

Working with Alex Newport, what did you incorporate within the new tracks that weren’t considered beforehand?

So we wrote and produced the record here in Billings and Alex mixed the record for us. Sean Lynch, who mixed Side A for me and became an incredible writing / producing partner in the studio, was wrestling our first mix for “Give Me Some” and not feeling it. He had worked with Alex in the past and thought Alex’s take on the song could be fresh and interesting…so why not ask him? Worse thing he can say is no. 

He said yes to mixing “Give Me Some” and when we asked about mixing the whole record, he also said yes! I’m so glad he did because he glued these songs together in a cohesive and indie pop punchy way, kept them emotive and dynamic, did wonders on the vocals, and consistently did a fine tooth comb through our production and eliminated elements that were overcomplicated and unnecessary. It was such a pleasure to work with Alex Newport on this record. 

How collaborative was the writing process for Be Edise with Gilda House?

LOVE this question because Be Edise was a transitional experience for me going from writing and producing mostly on my own to bringing people into the process. I was pretty stubborn about this record being right as the response to AB Side A, so I wrote the lyrics and started producing these songs on my own to get them to a point where they communicated the ideas enough for all of us to work on then, twist around, and add to. 

Except “Secrets” – summer of 21, we weren’t working on anything specific and Tony sent me a few of his ideas. I fell in love with what became “Secrets.” I wrote melody and lyrics to it with no thoughts about what it was or should be, and then we let it sit for a long while. This song actually triggered the writing of the rest of the record because I realized that this song should totally be on Side B and that the record should be a response to and reflection of Side A rather than a continuation.

Tony and Sean were especially patient with me while I worked out the ideas and waited till I shared the songs to work on together. I’m so thrilled with how the songs bloomed and improved with Tony and Sean working on them. We also had our friend Keith Brush write and play bass on a few songs. And Nick joined the band as we were finishing this process up, so we brought him into the writing, and he added a lot to the drums on the back half of the record. 

Honestly, it’s a relief that this complete 12-song, two-part saga is out of my head and the collaboration of Gilda House is free to be anything. We can all start songs from scratch together; we can each bring ideas, and we can work like this again. I still love writing on my own – it’s all on the table.  

Is there a story behind the EP’s title?

Of course there is. Be Edise is a twist on Side B spelled backward and is meant to phonetically sound like “Be At Ease” – one conclusion to draw from the adventure of this music. It’s cool that this EP is still Side B without being “Side B” and turned out totally different than I knew it would. 

Were there any albums or artists the band listened to that seeped into the writing and recording process?

I’m sure that there are. It’s hard to say being so close to it, and we weren’t necessarily trying to emulate anybody in particular. I usually write music to amplify or zoom in on a feeling. Along the way, I was listening to Portis Head and listened to a lot of Dummy. I also listened to The Faint for the first time while making this record, and I drew inspiration from their teethy synths, dance grooves, and meta lyrics all coming together in a banging way. Florence and the Machine’s Dance Fever came out towards the end of writing our record and I love that record. I always listen to a lot of Lana Del Rey… that’s the truth. Tony is inspired by The Black Queen and dark, cinematic synth wave artists as well as metal. Sean and Nick come from indie and punk rock backgrounds. We all inevitably bring where we’ve been to the table.