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Infidel Interview #94: GHØS†BØY

First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?

Thank you having me! I like to stay anonymous because I’ve always felt my music persona should be a separate entity from my private myself. I like to think it adds more artistic freedom and adds a little theatricality, I have sort of an a Nabokovian approach to what my music should be. I’ll let you know that I’m 23 years old and I live in Sweden.

How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?

I live in Gothenburg, which has a vibrant music scene. I used to be a part of the underground metal scene, believe it or not. I can’t say there is a good scene for avant-garde and playful electronic music like witch house and trash rave, sadly. My local scene has added next to nothing to my work as GB.

Do you consider yourself to be part of a particular sound or scene? What is your thoughts on the nature of genres and styles, and do you have any particular ones which you find to your enjoyment more, listening and/or production-wise?

I consider myself to be on the fun-leaning part of the witch house spectra. It’s all a little Sadboy-esque; kind of serious but at the same time it’s not. I try to break new ground with my work and go against the otherwise very formulaic and stale with house scene, sometimes my work is rather avant-garde or experimental and I can’t say it always hits the spot with my audience. Production wise I prefer electronic, dark music or indie rock. I listen mostly to indie folk and emo revival but my tastes vary from radio friendly arena rock like Foo Fighters to neo classical and noise music like Nurse With Wound or Merzbow.

What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?

My main inspirations would be books, games and movies, really. Silent Hill and Akira Yamaoka has always been one of my biggest inspirations. A while ago I started reading the classics and Kafka and Nabokov just gave me a ton inspiration for my soundscapes. Movies like The Ring (I made an entire album deriving sounds from it) and Donnie Darko and have been influential, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a huge source of inspiration too. Musically I think Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was the spark that made Ghostboy happen. You wouldn’t believe that, would you? Yasutaka Nakata is such an inspiring producer and you can tell he has a lot of fun producing.

My layered compositions are inspired by the work of The Cure and I really feel inspired when listening to Sadboys and Depeche Mode as well. When I was down on inspiration just before my first commercially released album “Sanctuary” I remember Crim3s, ŦHE LEFŦ HΔNĐ ƟF CⱤEΔŦĬƟN, Misogi and Bladee was of a lot of help.

Is electronic music where you started making music? Or did you have previous musical background or experience before hand? If so does/did your previous musical experience affect your electronic compositions?

Actually I’m a self-trained guitarist at heart, I also play piano to relax. I was in a shitty punk band with my childhood friends and a metalcore band called My Finest Hour, which is currently on ice. All my composition skills come from those projects as well as composing fifty or so songs on my own for a guitar pop band that never happened, looking at you Rikard.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?

Honestly the only challenge that ever mattered was to have my friends and family listen to my work, most of them don’t care for it but a handful even own a CD. Cheers guys!

Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?

Little things, like going to parties (I hate parties) and having people come up and talk to me saying “You’re Ghostboy, right?”, having my grandmother listen to my entire debut album (she’s not a fan of the macabre, it turns out) and my releases on Phantasma Disques and Venus Aeon. Most of all I would like to do some live show somehow.

Would you consider yourself to be an overall political or spiritual individual? If so, if how what would you say are your strongest/most important views and/or causes?

I like to pretend to be a wiccan or a LaVeyan Satanist for my image, but really I’m just a plain old atheist. I’d be wiccan if the local covens would let more people in. I don’t like to talk about politics because I don’t care to have others share my beliefs, however there is a lot of suffering in the world and I wish there was more done to stop it. Not just in third world countries, I know people suffer all over the world. Mental health issues is an important cause for me, I’d like to write a book about it one day.

Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?

Honestly I wouldn’t have coped without music, so without it I probably would have found some creative way to off myself. Just don’t tell that to my nan. Emotionally music was always my release. I used to listen to Elvis, Coldplay, The Killers and Weezer when I had a rough time as a kid, then eventually it evolved into composing and writing on my own for the same reason. Now I sing my despair away, I produce to satisfy my inner horror geek (See: Dead Katie) and indulge in piano playing for tranquillity. I am everything that I am today because of music.

What sort of processes do you go through when making music? Do you have a formula(s) that you follow, or do you feel it out as you go along? Or is it more of a mixture of the two?

I usually start by experimenting with soundscapes and getting a feel for what I want my track to be. Then it just kind of gradually grows from a big mess of synth patches, distortion, ambience, samples, musical phrases and drum loops. Once I feel like I’m finished with a track I spend a lot of time listening to it, like an hour total over a week or so just to get really annoyed with it so I can change everything I learned to dislike about it before dropping it.

When it comes to making music it can be difficult to balance atmosphere, song progression, musicality, and excitement. Do you have any tricks, techniques, or methods that you commonly use to help your music sound coherent and engaging?

Layers! I always work in plenty of layers of sound and strip a lot of them off throughout the track just to have them all crescendo together at some part of the track. Dynamics is all about knowing not to use your best path all throughout the track. I also play around a lot with equalisers for that muffled sound I have going on. For any and all WH producer out there; please keep in mind that less is more!

Musical composition nowadays can be aided by so many different tools and devices. Do you favor a complex approach of using lots of different instruments, or are you in the keep it simple until you have to boat of refining certain elements to their maximum potential? Or would you say your philosophy lays in between?

I say play it safe, you don’t need lot of instruments for a compelling track. The piano is a good example of this. If you have a great patch that you love then stick to it. Of course there is more potential in using a lot of different instruments and samples but there is something to the saying that “contraints breed creativity”, too much is overwhelming even for the most experienced composer.

Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two? What's your relationships with presets? When you make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Or do you do a fusion of both? Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music?

I program all my sounds myself, no presets. I spend most of the time producing trying to get my sounds right. I have a specific, muddied quality in mind when I do. I’ve made most Ghostboy tracks using only software, with exception of the guitar driven BLOODFLOWERS. FL Studio and NI Massive are great. My weapon of choice is the 3xosc plugin for FL, it’s so simple but I use it for some basses, risers, bass drops and ambience. Try adding reverb with distortion on top for an eerie feedback, I’ve done that a lot!

What's your take on sample packs and loops? Do you see them as a creative inspirational tool and useful sonic addition to your tracks? Or are you a purist when it comes to composing your own melodies and sounds?

I’m definitely a purist! I like it when the track is all a product of my own mind. I don’t mind when other artists do, I feel like loops are just another form of derivate art which has always been important for any art movement.

Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process?

Yes! Every single track to be short.

What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?

A year ago or so I started a project called “SUCCUBI” which is all about comparing how modern media sell the pain of some as entertainment for the masses and comparing it to pornography. We watch pitiful, sinister and decadent TV-shows for 30-60 minutes to feel better, just like porn but there are real people with broken lives being consumed. I’m planning on changing my image something with a lot of neon to mimic strip joints and stuff, if I ever get it done. Not sure what sparked that idea because I don’t care much for sleazy things like that.

Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity? If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them?

I have a folk pop project called “Vit Kanin” (translates to White Rabbit) going on.

I’d collaborate with Robert Smith given the chance! He is my lord and savoir, I’d give an arm to work with that man. I’d also be interested in working more with Alexander Leonard Donat of Vlimmer and Blackjack Illuminist but I haven’t talked to him about it yet.

Outside of Electronic music, what other genres could you see yourself composing music in? Or should I say, do you see yourself inspired by?

The works of classical composers Schubert and Pachelbel have left me in awe for the longest time, I’d love to compose something along those lines. I’d like to work more with post-punk, emo revival, indie folk and guitar pop too.

Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?

I spend a lot of time with my beautiful girlfriend, she’s truly something! Before her I kept myself busy with literature, cosplay, Pokemon Go and PC gaming, I used to be one of the best players in the world in a game called Nosgoth but it got exhausting and I don’t do PC gaming anymore really.

Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?

To each and every one of my listeners; Thank you! You’ve made me feel like I too can be of importance. To the any other reader, I hope you’ll check out my work and find something you appreciate.

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