The journey to one’s own unique sound and identity is often a daunting challenge, especially in a music world packed to the brim with incredible talent, yet tough constraints. This challenge becomes even more amplified when trying to reinvent the image created in your previous band in order to break free and truly express what music means to you. In a short period of time, GHOSTKID has taken the wheel of their own musical journey, fuelled by self expression, passion, and the beauty of creating. Ahead of their debut album, we had a chat to GHOSTKID about all things music, identity and what is to come!
STRIFE: Congratulations on your album finalisation! GHOSTKID: Thanks a lot! It will be out on November 13th!
S: How exciting! I firstly wanted to say, have you encountered any struggles about reinventing both yourself and your sound, because evidently this album is solidifying your name and your presence- so have you found any struggles making this name for yourself?
G: I would say there have been a lot of struggles overall because after the split, I was responsible for myself, you know. It was not that easy to satisfy myself either. If you put a lot of work into something that is fuelled by personal emotions and what you wish for it to represent… it's so hard to satisfy yourself. When you play in the band you have a lot of different opinions, and at some point, the others will say “that’s good enough”, but when you are responsible overall for everything, it is not that easy. So I've really learnt through this experience, I'm the hardest guy to satisfy when creating on my own!
S: Definitely! I guess in the same wavelength, what has been the best thing about being independent and now being in control of your own sound?
G: I would say the best thing is that if you have got a vision of something, you can totally focus on that. There’s no need to have discussions and gather different opinions as well. What I’ve really discovered is that if you’ve got something on your mind, like an image of what it could look like in the end, or sound like in the end, you can move forward toward it. For me, it made me a bit more focused, even if the problems are a bit more complicated to work through on your own. But I would say, it is definitely a big plus so you don't have to argue about something. I would say you can focus more on what music really should be- you're more free when it comes down to your creative space!
S: I mean, I guess that it’s no better time to be so free with your music because you're emerging as an artist in a time that is filled with constraints. How do you think emerging as a new artist within this current environment has limited you- did you have any plans for the big album release ahead?
G: I must say, I haven't really encountered too many problems with the COVID environment because everything is still in the build-up stages for me. As you said, it’s a new project and to create a good base does take some time. For example, we are a whole band, but even if it were just a solo project, we don't have equipment at this point, haha! So there is a lot of stuff I have to prepare, and I do most of the stuff on my own, so I would say that the time right now hasn't affected me in a working sense, but I am totally aware of the problems. A lot of my friends are very much struggling with their own existence and even if I am not really having problems right now, I feel so sorry for all the people that are still trying to make a living right now. It does make me think about the whole situation. What can I do as an artist for other artists? Let’s hope for the best! It's just a weird feeling to be sitting here- some are struggling, others may not be.
S: Whilst on the topic of your working environment, we saw you come into the scene around 2019 and evidently, your music was fuelled by raw aggression and power. How do you think the circumstances and upheaval of 2020 has helped fuel this same aggression and energy in your newest album?
G: It was definitely not just 2020 that has had an impact on this work. When I started writing that record, there was a lot of stuff going on in my own life, and I was confronted by a lot of my own personal and emotional problems, so the album acted as a relief. Sometimes I wrote some songs that I had not understood in the beginning, but after a while, they became totally clear. It was like a therapy in the end- a release. It turned out really personal, and even if I was singing about a situation I hadn’t been through, they were always in my mind as things I had been thinking a lot about. I wouldn't say it was only 2020, because a lot of the songs were almost done- but there were certainly a lot of crazy things going on for me earlier. But it’s a weird year!
S: When I was listening to the album, (and I was so lucky I got a little bit of a sneak peek because I really enjoyed it), and as you were discussing then, it is a very personal album. I found throughout the album your songs show vulnerability and passion in these different ways- whether it be through your sombre instrumentals or your powerful vocals. For you, what’s the most important element that brings this level of sincerity and vulnerability to your music, and why is it so important to do this?
G: It’s hard to say. In many ways, it feels as though the songs wrote themselves. It was more that I tried to create music that represents the feeling and the emotions that I felt at that moment. I like to think of it as a subtle feeling, and that is especially the reason why I created songs like ‘Start A Fight’. ‘Start A Fight’ is powerful and shows this through the vocals. I made a little voice message to myself with the line, “I wanna kill something, I wanna destroy something”, and so on, and I started with the vocals. I then started with the riff and everything else. When we were working on it when we were doing the pre-production it turned out that I really understood what all of this was about. I would say a lot of the songs turned out like this because it was a subtle feeling that turned into something bolder and bigger- something like my music.
S: On the album, tracks such as ‘FOOL’, (which is a personal favourite), have a heavy reliance on these anthemic instrumentals and powerful vocals, truly worthy of leading a movement. That leaves me to ask, if you were to give your fans an overview of your movement, your message, what would it be?
G: I would say an all-encompassing, overall message isn't really there for GHOSTKID. I would prefer to say that GHOSTKID is some kind of an alter-ego for myself, which represents the things that I couldn't represent as a private person. It’s more like an alter-ego that really deals with the stuff in my head. It’s more of a personification, really!
S: Do you think that GHOSTKID was a long time coming? When did you know that you had to create this alter-ego to finally get out all these feelings?
G: I would say the feeling came when I was working on the last record with my old band. When we were in the studio, we were writing a lot and working tirelessly. At this point, I felt like, “okay, it has not turned out like we had expected it to”. Working hard and in the end you are not proud of what you have created is a struggle, and what is even worse is that it doesn't feel right to represent those feelings. Personally, I wanted to feel what I was doing. This was the moment where I recognised: “okay, this is not right. It doesn't feel right anymore, and I need to do something about it”. That led to me grabbing the guitar again for the first time after such a long time and starting to write songs of my own again. I began to recognise that there was truly something I missed for such a long time and it finally felt right- that’s when I knew the other project didn't feel right. I had to decide because I wanted to focus on something, either 100 percent or nothing; this is where everything started. I felt uncomfortable and decided to do something about it… to feel free again.
S: I can’t begin to imagine the pressure of such a decision but I feel it was an incredible one to make as you have produced such an inspiring album! I cannot wait for more people to hear it! It goes to show on the album itself when you have features from influential artists like Johnny Three Tears. What do you think artists, like Johnny, brought to the album?
G: Overall I was looking for some special artists! I am a really big fan of doing features because it is pretty cool when you have a track that people would not usually perform on. For ‘This Is Not Hollywood’ I had the feature of Timi Hendrix, which was my first one. I thought because the song was so important for me, I wanted to spread the message internationally. This was the same intention when we came in touch with Johnny Three Tears. I asked him if he would like to be on the track, and I think the really cool thing is that every artist also got their own story on this track. The music industry is incredibly screwed up- it doesn't matter if you're a really big and successful artist or a small one, everybody is facing the same problems and the same pressures. It’s really weird. It’s even weird for me when you’re on stage and people are looking up to you thinking that you are someone special for them- some people can deal with that, and some cannot. I think it’s something we all have to deal with and there can be a lot of struggles with that. But long story short, every artist is dealing with their own stories and demons, and that is the reason why these feature tracks turn out so great, they tell these stories.
S: So I suppose music acts as your own personal escapism too?
G: Yeah, exactly. I would say the reason that I started music in the first place was to have a home. It sounds a bit crazy but it really was like that. When I was younger, I was always looking for a place. I started playing basketball and skating, but I never stuck to something as long as I have to music because with music you are responsible for what you are creating- this gave a sense of hope for me. I recognised that if I felt terrible, I could put it in a song and feel a bit better about the situation because I had a release. So I would definitely agree!
S: Have you ever questioned the music industry itself, particularly the heavier side of the industry, and what it promotes as opposed to your own beliefs as an artist?
G: Of course you need the music industry to spread your music, but I think as an artist you need to be aware of what it is. It is a really good thing when you keep the control, especially the control of yourself. Of course, the music industry gives you a bag load of money if you are successful and represent you as an artist. But there is a reality that some of the industry doesn't care about your personal situation. There are a lot of examples, like Amy Winehouse. These people totally blow up and then go into a downward spiral because of the attitudes toward musicians. It's important to have the music industry, but you must be aware of it as an artist. It’s all about that!
S: I guess on a personal basis, how do you plan on celebrating such an important release?
G: I would say just drinking, haha! Maybe with some friends. I mean, that’s the only possibility we have got right now! Probably as well just sitting down and thinking about what we have created because if you work really hard on something, sometimes you become blind toward what it is you have created. This process takes some time, you're working a lot, so after this time it really feels good to sit down for a while and just think about what you've done!
We would like to thank GHOSTKID for the incredible chat, via Skype, of course!
If you enjoyed this interview, you are sure to enjoy the soon-to-be released album from GHOSTKID, dropping on the 13th of November! We cannot wait to see what you think, and we are even more excited to see the future of GHOSTKID!