“People who know me know not to bet against me,” Matt Goss says with a flash of Hollywood smile. As someone who has experienced his fair share of professional highs and lows, and who has also maintained a long-running weekly residency in Las Vegas, London-born Goss knows a thing or two about beating the odds.
His first big win came with Bros, the British pop act that he formed as a teenager alongside twin brother Luke and school friend Craig Logan. Although Bros failed to break in America, the group was hugely successful in the late ’80s throughout Europe, where it scored a string of multiplatinum albums and hit singles, including “When Will I Be Famous?” and the 1988 U.K. No. 1 “I Owe You Nothing.”
After Bros disbanded in 1992, Goss released his first solo set, “The Key,” in 1995. But poor financial management cost him dearly. “I lost a ton of money,” confesses the singer, now a youthful-looking 44. “But the Brit in me got up, dusted myself down and I went out and rebuilt my industry in another country.”
Relocating to Los Angeles in the late ’90s, Goss started afresh in 2009 with a weekly residency at the Lounge at the Palms in Las Vegas. Co-produced by Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin, the Rat Pack-inspired show was an immediate hit, leading the Los Angeles Times to call Goss “the best new act in Vegas.” The show transferred to Caesars Palace the following year, with the singer taking over the famous Cleopatra’s Barge lounge, renamed “the Gossy Room” for the occasion.
Now entering his fifth year in Sin City, Goss credits the experience with inspiring his forthcoming domestic major-label debut, “Life You Imagine.” “I’ve learnt through playing Caesars that I can just be myself,” the charismatic, smooth-voiced crooner says.
Arriving Oct. 7 in the United Kingdom on Decca Records, “Life You Imagine” will make its domestic bow in early 2014 on Virgin Records. Produced by Ron Fair — who previously steered the careers of Christina Aguilera and the Black Eyed Peas, and was appointed Virgin Records chief creative officer/executive VP in January — the record is a mix of big band swing and contemporary-sounding soul that pays respectful homage to the Rat Pack era. Notably, the album features only two covers: a seductively languid “There’s Nothing Like This” (originally by Brit soul singer Omar) and a jazz reworking of Bros’ “When Will I Be Famous?”
“When I first met Matt I told him that I’m not interested in producing another handsome guy doing ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ in a tux with an open bow tie. I only want to do this if we are going to do your music,” says Fair, who came onboard after hearing Goss’ original song demos. At the time, neither Goss nor Fair were attached to a label and drew upon the support of angel investor Armen Boladian (founder of Detroit-based Westbound Records) to fund recording costs, which included hiring a 26-piece brass section and full orchestra.
“This project was always a labor of love,” Fair says of the record, which was recorded during a two-year period, split between Los Angeles’ Record Plant and Fair’s home studio, dubbed “the Sweat Box” by Goss. “Every day we were temple to temple, butting heads in the best way possible to make the album of our lives,” the artist says.
Fortuitously, Fair received his executive appointment at Virgin around the time that mixing of “Life You Imagine” was completed. Capitol Music Group chairman/CEO Steve Barnett was presented with the record and shared Fair’s enthusiasm for the project. “The stars all aligned,” says Vector Management co-president Jack Rovner, who manages Goss alongside Peter Rudge at Proper Artist Management in the United Kingdom.
Setup for the campaign began with a lavish live showcase at London’s Cafe de Paris on June 26, for which Goss transferred his Vegas show to the British capital. He returns to the venue for a four-date residency Oct. 3-9, with a number of prime-time TV slots booked for street week, including BBC 1’s “Strictly Come Dancing.”
“Matt has delivered a sensational album and we’re feeling very confident. There is no one else like him in the market,” Decca Records GM Rebecca Allen says. Rovner is equally optimistic about “Life You Imagine” building a strong U.K. sales base before rolling out internationally next year. “Matt’s the kind of artist that women love, and guys want to be him and have his swagger and cool,” Rovner says, eyeing a first-quarter domestic launch supported by high-profile TV appearances and live dates.
“I’ve definitely earned my stripes,” Goss says. “But to me, it’s about right now and tomorrow. With this record I wanted to create a body of new work that will hopefully become modern standards.”