curtains: in conversation with gouda

rhea kotrashetti


Joey Heins is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer, disseminating his thoughts through his music. Also known as Gouda, he is a mindful soul riding the waves of life, with his cat Marley, and all of his many talents. Releasing very soon is his new single Anne, a creation of his low times and gratitude.


As we talk, I can’t help but notice how reflective and kind Joey is. He says that he feels as though he’s eighty years old and I can attest that his intellect and kindness are proof enough. Books, music and food, Joey has used each of these as a medium for self-expression and healing.


In this conversation, we walk through his journey of self-discovery and healing. Joey delves into his struggle with negative emotions and suicide and inspires us to look at this world in a different perspective.


Push up Daisies: What has your relationship with death always been like, and how do you view it now?

Gouda: I have always wanted to be in control of my death. The topic has never seemed taboo to me; in fact, it has become less and less so as I have grown older. I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts & struggles. They have given the concept of death a vibrant & conflicting ink in my head. It has led me to both know that death is/will be peaceful as well as that there is so much to live for. I struggle to balance that sometimes. Life is wonderfully tiring; the idea of eternal sleep can be quite attractive. While this thought was once negative and poisonous, I’ve shifted it to be celebratory & reflective. There is so much to celebrate with life, emotions, memories, passions. I believe dying will allow me to be forever grateful for all the little details of my life.

Push up Daisies: Are you spiritual or religious? How do you think your culture affects your perception of death?

Gouda: I believe a common spirit runs through all beings & manifests itself in different ways. I grew up going to church. I had always thought it was cult-like. While I was finding myself to be a more individualistic person. I began connecting with beings emotionally and coincidentally. Through this, I have come to realize that each one of us carries an energy that runs through the world and ourselves. This drives our personalities, actions, passions, & relationships.

Push up Daisies: As a creative, how does the thought or fear of death inspire you/does ever drive you to create more?

Gouda: I have this burning need to create as if I will die the next day. Creation is something I live for & see as the center of my soul. Without creating, I am nothing, thus my death is neither celebratory nor reflective; in fact, it’s quite sad. As long as I live, I will create so that both my life & my death provide me with reflection & celebration. Additionally, going through these thoughts & feelings has led me to once want to die. Creation has been a big part of that healing process.

Push up Daisies: How would you like to be remembered?

Gouda: Through my creations. Those are the most potent versions of me.

Push up Daisies: What are you most proud of in your life?


Gouda: I’m proud of my self-sufficiency. Independence is the most important aspect of my life. Ever since I can remember having any stream of consciousness, I have thought for myself. I have acted on my own intentions without influence and desired to provide for myself. Creating, particularly cooking, furthers my feeling and loving of self-sufficiency and independence. I am proud that I make and provide for everything that I eat. That my own experiences and thoughts drive my creations.

Push up Daisies: How does the thought of death affect your everyday life?


Gouda: Death is something that I do think about daily. Quite simply, it drives me to the best I can be. For my creations to be as potent as they can be, for my food to be as flavorful as it can be. I guess that was my ‘not-trying-to-be-corny’ version of “live every day like you will die tomorrow."

Push up Daisies: In what ways can it be healthy to contemplate death?


Gouda: To gain a broader perspective on your inner & outer-self. It is almost as if I am living outside of myself when I put a thoughtful focus towards death with my history of negative contemplation. All of life’s burning questions and conflicts that lie deep in emotional and thoughtful layers. They are so easy to see with such perspective. After going through all the negative contemplation of death, I tend to say that I feel like I have aged eighty years. Life feels more reflective and meaningful after going through such thoughts.

Push up Daisies: Have you ever read a book revolving around death that left its mark on you?


Gouda: Oddly enough, the Percy Jackson books that I read as a kid. They introduced me to the idea that death is more than just one’s life-ending. In fact, it was after the second book in which one of the characters dies and continues to exist as a tree that I began to dig into reincarnation. I do believe in reincarnation and it has fueled the way I create and live my life.

Push up Daisies: Is there something that you would be willing to die for? What would this be?


Gouda: I would die if it meant that somebody I love could live a better life. I could celebrate their life as well as mine.

Push up Daisies: What are your ideal and worst ways to die?


Gouda: I want to be in control. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, I used to, but having a concrete thought of that only leads to negativity for me. I will know my time & be wary of it when it comes. Having somebody else end my life would undoubtedly be the worst way to die.

Push up Daisies: Last but not the least, how does your newest song Anne relate to the theme of death?


Gouda: I wrote Anne during a time where I desperately wanted to die. The song is a creation of all these driving forces coming together to make me feel in that way. The airing of these thoughts, behaviors, memories, & emotions caused me to contemplate death in such a negative manner. Ironically, these very aspects of my life are now what I am most grateful for. I can contemplate both life & death in a positive, reflective manner.

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