We Have A Ghost is an exceptional band that produce music that seems to come from another world. The self-titled debut album is going to be released next July and we are already in love with its atmospheric, yet engaging, sonic landscape. To better know what's behind this record I tried to catch a Ghost and this what we talked about.
(((o))): Hey Ghost, many thanks for taking time out to speak with us. Where are you, and most importantly how are you?
Ghost: My pleasure. I’m good right now.
(((o))): I suppose there’s no use in asking you to reveal your identity, so I’ll just inquire about your decision in remaining anonymous. How would you describe your music to your friends? And do they even know you as We Have A Ghost?
Ghost: I’ve always had a hard time describing my sound. I say I’m an underground electronic band and I make electronic music. It’s not about me, it’s about the music. Truthfully, this is who I am, regardless of whether you know my name, where I’m from or what I look like. By paying attention to this music, you already know more about me than 90% of people who know me in everyday life. Most of my friends have met me through this while remaining anonymous.
(((o))): I read that you live in a real haunted house? Can you tell us something about it? And, what haunts you?
Ghost: I did while I was finishing up the album, yeah. It was a small room which was part of an old converted mansion. It looked like the set of the Addams Family or the Munsters but it was the real thing. There was a little girl (as I’ve been told) that hung out in the foyer. I think something happened to her there. On numerous occasions, I’d feel a presence from the corner of my eye - and always in the same spot. What haunts me is something else entirely and is related to the name.
(((o))): Can you give us a bit of a background? When did you first start writing and playing music and who or what influenced you to do so?
Ghost: 2001. I started working on the debut album in 2003 when I finally had the means of doing so through soft synths and DAWs. Most of what I was working with was modeled analog synths and sequencers, so I set out to replace my virtual gear with the real thing. I’m mostly self taught minus a few piano lessons as a kid and singing lessons in college. I come from a visual arts background. I have a BFA in art (painting/photography).
Oddly enough I made the decision to pursue a music career during a Chuck Close lecture for a printmaking class. He spent a year or two on a particular mezzotint, and sold them as both limited edition prints and lithographs. I learned that printmaking was the best and most affordable means of owning a one of a kind work of art. 'Fine Art for the People’ - accessible to everyone. I drew a parallel between print art and album art. As a formally trained multimedia artist with an interest in all aspects of art, I realized the album format was the perfect way to combine all aspects of art into one thing. I knew I could do the album art, photography, graphic design, music, production, etc to make one cohesive statement. This was around the time where making music on your laptop was a new thing. Before, it was unapproachable without spending crazy amounts of money in a studio. This prospect inspired me tremendously, and does so to this day. So I taught myself music production and began my journey. Come to think of it I think I should revisit this print idea…
(((o))): What's the idea behind the name We Have A Ghost?
Ghost: I realized there was something else haunting me…. the notion I was capable of doing more with my life as an artist. All these songs no one has heard. It’s haunted me for years on an hourly basis. In this sense We Have A Ghost represents anything haunting you. I believe this is universal. We are all haunted by something.
Collectively, WE HAVE A GHOST.
(((o))): What music inspires you?
Ghost: Cinematic music with substance and meaning. Songs that manage to bring out or enhance whatever I’m feeling or want to feel. Songs that make me cry or put me in the zone, give me goosebumps, or in some way blow my mind, or challenge me. I’m into movie soundtracks, and I absolutely love post-rock…
(((o))): Listening to music has a therapeutic effect on me and most of the time it helps me to stay in my own world. Does it have the same effect on you? If so, is there an artist or any music in particular that you turn to in this way?
Ghost: Absolutely. These days it’s Hammock's Chasing After Shadows… Living With Ghosts and Departure Songs, followed by Sigur Rós (), 'Time' by Hans Zimmer of the Inception Soundtrack and 'Rhubarb' of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works volume 2.
(((o))): Your debut album is about to come out. From my knowledge, We Have A Ghost is your very first full-length release. How did you get signed on to Bleeding Light Records?
Ghost: Bleeding Light left an encouraging note, I replied. We both have a love for vinyl - the rest is history.
(((o))): Is We Have A Ghost a conceptual album? What is its central theme?
Ghost: The music on the debut album isn’t per se, but the album art, the meaning behind We Have A Ghost, the way I handle fan interaction and integration, the methodology behind how I present and promote myself are conceptual and carefully considered. I was able to connect the dots in hindsight once I dove into this full time and reached an audience. The theme is ‘what haunts you?'
(((o))): I've been listening to We Have A Ghost on repeat these days and I noticed that it blends different styles. I hear a range of influences on the album, and its variety is what I like the most. What inspired you to produce such a diverse collection of tracks?
Ghost: You are hearing songs recorded over a 6 year period that have a common thread in them - me. The tracks that made it on the album are the ones I listened to privately in various states for what feels like forever. They withstood the test of time for me, and have benefited from the time it’s taken, as I’ve grown artistically and personally during the course of making this album. I just kept refining the songs little by little, and stuck with them until the tracks began to take on a life of their own. As time went on my influences progressed as I discovered new music.
Sometimes the sound was partially impacted by the addition of a new piece of gear. For example, when I got the Elektron Machinedrum, the 1st song I made with it was 'Computerrok', which is almost 100% Machinedrum (including the bass). 'The Incident' was the 1st song I made when I bought my bass guitar and analog delay. 'It Is What It Is' was made when I bought Ivory. As soon as I bought BFD, I made 'Meadow' (all those drums are programmed with BFD). 'Marymoor Park' was created when a friend let me borrow his guitar. It was the 1st time I played a guitar, let alone record one and I could not believe I was making music with it. That song is 100% guitar (minus the dog).
I’ve never been concerned about having a particular sound. I just get my feelings out using whatever I have in front of me. I think very much in textures and layers, with every layer suiting how that part makes me feel as it relates to whatever else I’ve tracked. There are a wide range of emotions captured on this, which has contributed to its variety. I see sections of songs like genres. 'To Begin Again', for example - has an ambient ending - the section in the middle is 4 on the floor techno, the part before the ending has a little post-rock with the addition of the guitar. There’s a section of ambient industrial/experimental noise against a soothing ambient melody, the baseline has a bit of acid to it, the drum machine pattern has a hint of trip hop while the live drums give it more of an electro rock kind of feel. And I feel that certain genres really nail a particular feeling. And since I know I tend to write diverse music I wanted to make sure my debut album reflected that, because I don’t want to be tied down to one style. This sets the expectation from the beginning. I’m going to be true to myself and express how I feel no matter what it’s classified as.
(((o))): Should you pick a song from We Have A Ghost to listen to right now, which one would you choose and why?
Ghost: At this moment I would pick 'Sleepy Cells' because it has a lot of elements that fit my mood right now. It’s relaxing, with a hint of melancholy and a little darkness and mystery, and ends with a release of intensity that still manages to get beneath my skin leaving me wanting more. If you haven’t listened to it yet, start with 'The Secret'.
(((o))): What were some of the triggered memories when you worked on this album and when you listen to it now?
Ghost: Making music is a private moment made public. My work deals with the artists intention and whether it matters. I’m more concerned with how it makes the listener feel.
(((o))): What is your production setup like?
Ghost: At the time I was recording the debut album I had a Mac Pro running Ableton Live with an Apogee Ensemble interface. I had a guitar, bass, a custom Moog Minimoog Voyager with CV expansion, Virus TI desktop synth, an Elektron Machinedrum SPS 1-UW drum machine and several analog effects (Z-Vex Super Hard On, Death By Audio Robot and Total Sonic Annihilation, a vintage Fuzz Face, and a Bass-Drive Mosfet), 2 racks of Moog Moogerfoogers - Ring Mod, MURF, Phaser, and the 104-Z analog delay (which was used on practically everything). KRK V8 studio monitors, a pair of Universal Audio LA 610 pre-amps, a tube Mic, a Mackie control surface with motorized faders and a Mackie C4, along with an Akai MPD-24 drum pad and a few other midi controllers.
A couple of sample based software instruments, FXpansion BFD 2 for writing analog drum parts (and sometimes keeping them, like in Meadow and Electric Blanket), and Synthogy Ivory for piano. In addition, since this is a multimedia project, I should mention I had a Canon 5D mk2 with a bunch of L lenses, a merlin steadicam, a Canon EOS 1D N, and a Go Pro Hero. It was a great setup.
I just picked up the Analog Keys by Elektron and it’s absolutely amazing.
(((o))): I like music most when the genre is not too obvious while listening to it. What do you think of genrefication? How would you 'tag' your music style?
Ghost: I think people need an entry point when discovering music. I’m learning by how other people classify my music. Genrefication gets longwinded and complicated and it’s hard to pin music down to one thing but my tags are: electro industrial, ambient industrial, forms of post industrial, rock, electronic, downtempo, electro rock, ambient electronica, indietronica, post-rock, ambient and shoegaze so far.
(((o))): Who are your favorite musicians? Would you want to collaborate with any of them in the future?
Ghost: That’s really difficult to answer because I love so much music and my music taste is varied depending on my mood. I’d like to create something with members of A Great Weight, Ventenner, and Solarein.
The Haxan Cloak, Trentemøller, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Björk, Sigur Rós, Thom Yorke and Radiohead, Helmet, Max Richter, Ministry, Pink Floyd, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Chelsea Wolfe, Portishead, Hammock, Clark, Gesaffelstein, The Moscow Coup Attempt, Air, Boards of Canada, Flying Lotus, Massive Attack, and Mogwai to name a few.
(((o))): What are your plans for the near future?
Ghost: Continued promotion for the vinyl release. Other than that I’m at work on an EP, and some other things I’m not ready to talk about right now.
(((o))): Thanks for talking to us and good luck with your projects. Finally, is there anything else you want to tell us that we haven't already covered here?
Ghost: I’m giving away a test pressing on Kolidr - you can enter here:
Thanks for having me. I appreciate your time.