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."