Ghostwood have been doing the indie band thing in Sydney for a really long time. With three EPs to their name and an album on the way Ghostwood, who got together in high school from teenage dreams, have even supported The Jesus And Mary Chain. They chatted to Music Feeds about their creative process, recent work and upcoming release.
MF: So you’ve been ridiculously productive lately in terms of writing; is that right? Tell us a bit about how you guys write … together, or individually? Where does the magic happen? What kind of distractions do you have to deal with?
G: That’s a lot of questions in one question! We have been quite busy writing for the album. The way we write changes from song to song … I normally write the skeleton of the song – the key, chords and lyrics – and we collectively add the body and the way the song will be ‘presented’. Occasionally I write more parts for the other instruments, but that is not always the case. I like the way we write now because we collectively focus on one part at a time. I’ll show a home demo to Paddy and he’ll write a guitar part and then we work on it together to make everything sit right, same goes for other instruments.
As far as distractions, university can sometimes get in the way, but it also stimulates the synapses.
MF: There’s a concept in psychology called ‘flow’ where someone working really hard and concentrating really hard on something hits a point where they just feel like information is flowing through them and they can work on something for a really long time without being distracted because of this energy … do you experience that with your writing?
G: Sometimes I feel like the song is writing itself, like there’s a ghost in the room telling me “go to this key … try this phrase” and I notate it. I don’t like to analyse how I write; at the end of the day all I do is sit on the floor with a guitar and a pen and paper.
MF: In your recent MFTV interview you talked about pop music as kind of a friend and an enemy at the same time. Personally, I hear a lot of pop vibes in your music in terms of song structures, melodies and production – but the sound you use in terms of instruments and the beats you produce are quite alternative. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that a lot of music from Sydney is quite pop-based, compared to the Melbourne scene at least … but perhaps your pop influences come from another era, not this current one. Does that sound right to you?
G: Terminology seems to be quite a focus in music. Right from at school where a teacher might ask you to describe what makes such and such bebop, and what makes something else classical. But I’m pretty sure neither Charlie Parker nor Mozart tried to write bebop or classical. I think they just did it and tried to write the best tunes as they saw it.
I guess I like to reflect upon pop music because it historically sits on a podium.
The meaning of pop music changes with every generation from the Ink Spots to Madonna. I can’t really sum up my music taste in a paragraph, let alone all four of us. Whatever influences people hear, I’m sure the music has brushed past at least one of our eight ears.
MF: What are some other current bands you’re enjoying?
G: Warpaint are pretty rad. The new Horrors record is pretty good as well. I really like the sarcastic nature of Folk Uke as well; I find their honesty really appealing and quite funny.
MF: Should we expect some kind of album release from Ghostwood soon? Who have you been working with/do you want to work with for your next set of recording?
G: Yes! Our EP is bursting to get out the door. It should be released this month as Sunset Mirage. Album should be out towards end of the year … We cut our EP with Jim Moginie and we’re making the rest of our album with him as well. He’s really great; we all seem to get along quite well.
MF: Have you got any conceptual ideas about artwork or style yet? Does that kind of stuff matter much to you?
G: I really like the sense of adventure in a lot of marine art and old adventure books. I like the idea of channeling that in some way. It matters to us in a really big way.
MF: Will there be a lot of new material at your upcoming Beresford show?
G: Yes, we’ll be playing some chunes [sic] from our new EP and a few from the album as well.
MF: What inspires you? Where does the material come from in terms of your lyrics? Tell us about what you’ve been listening to, reading, and watching …
G: It’s hard to avoid clichés, because unfortunately ‘life’ is normally a big influence on any creative endeavor; in a sense it’s the only influence. At the moment, I’m reading a translated version of Einstein’s theory of ‘relativity’ and ‘special relativity’. Just recently, I have been listening to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. The whole album is thoroughly composed; very elegant indeed.
MF: How does Sydney treat you? Like a beloved child, or a black sheep, or somewhere in between?
G: Sydney has always been very good to me and my band. I love Sydney. I think Sydney treats us just like anybody else.
Ghostwood play Upstairs Beresford this Saturday 27th August