Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Premiere: Ghostking Is Dead - Tokyo

Ghostking is Dead - Tokyo - Interview

Ghostking Is Dead - 'Tokyo'

Info: Ghostking is Dead is the project of Cork-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Corrigan, which has been celebrated for it's vivid soundscapes and intriguing sonic themes. 

Ahead of the release of his latest EP, This Is Doubt on the 17th of October, REMY is most delighted to premiere the lead single 'Tokyo' which is out on Cork indie label Hausu Records today, and also catch up with Ghostking Is Dead for an insightful chat.

There's a very soothing delicacy on 'Tokyo', with Ghostking Is Dead in contemplative mood courtesy of his spoken-word intro. As is his wont, it's not long before he throws soulful pop vocals into the mix alongside some seriously chill electronic sounds. The single also confirms what we have learned from previous singles such as the excellent 'Lucky Warrior' and 'Fool', Ghostking Is Dead doesn't do limitations, and is very comfortable at strafing across a multitude of styles and sounds with uncanny ease.

REMY: Listening to your discography on Bandcamp from back in 2016 up to the last single you released before 'Tokyo', 'Lucky Warrior', there’s a pretty smooth path from guitar-based DIY (debut EP Journal of Public Affairs) to the polished production of your most recent material which has an electro-pop rn'b and soul groove. Did your early musical ventures begin in guitar-based bands or have you always operated solo? 

GKID: My first true foray into taking music 'seriously' saw me recording grimy alt-rock in a bedroom, using Audacity and a 20 Euro USB microphone, aged 15. A friend of mine, who was a drummer, was convinced we'd cracked the code; "who needs to go to studios, we can do it all right here!". Needless to say, the subtleties of the audio processing process were lost on us. I stayed there for around 2 years, playing in various iterations of the same rock band until I decided to take it solo. An audio interface and 6 months of SoundCloud demos later, I was 'Ghostking is Dead'. As for the stylistic progression, the symbiosis of my style and my production is undeniable. What I make has always been chiefly informed by what I am capable of making. The transformation into electronics, soul, rn'b, etc. has been a combination of my own increased appreciation of the style, and years of practice paying off in the ability to make that style of music.

REMY: Speaking of your back catalogue, there’s a huge amount of variety of sounds across multiple singles and what will soon be your 5th EP. Temporarily leaving aside your latest EP, which release have you always felt closest to in terms of fondness and satisfaction with the results?

GKID: Time has a funny effect on ones perception of ones work. I can't listen to Sweet Boy anymore; the mistakes and missteps are only now becoming obvious and, oh boy, that is a sting. Leaf, however, is in a beautiful middle ground of my memory. True, it may be old, riddled with mistakes and things I’d do differently now. That said, it’s been long enough now that I can see it in context, for what it really is and was: my first tentative steps into something scary and far more ambitious then I had previously ventured for. The sounds and styles there went on to define a lot of the music I make now, and for that I don’t think I would change a thing.

REMY: Vocals are obviously a big part of Ghostking Is Dead's sound, I think of the grandiose 'Fool' for example. Did you have any formal training in vocals and also, which singers might have had an influence on your style?

GKID: No formal vocal training, although I think I could stand to learn a thing or a million from something like that. I recently had to step back and look at my vocals, to try and understand and develop them and myself in the wake of the next level I want to take my work to. David Bowie, Zach Condon (Beirut), Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) and Héloïse Letissier (Christine and The Queens) would all number among my favourite vocalists. What aspects of their actual styles, and the styles of others, that I have adopted I do not know. What I do know, however, is that the distinct and individual nature of their performances is awe-inspiring. I approach vocals to try and find the performance that is truest to what I believe Ghostking is Dead to be.

REMY: I’m interested in your live set up on stage, is it minimalist out of practicality, and do you use / hope to use visuals? Also, while we’re touching on the live music side of things, which venue would you consider Cork’s best kept secret right now?

GKID: It’s always jarring to transition from a long-term solo environment to a band environment, but for my live ambitions I have had to do just that. I am blessed with an ensemble of hardworking and skilled musicians who make what I conjure in my head a reality that can be communicated. I want to begin to utilize every member in a more meaningful way now: JJ is more than a bass player and giving him the opportunity to do some vocals live, to speak to the crowd, has coloured a blank space I didn’t know existed. Chris (the drummer) is a fantastic all-round musician, vocalist, keys player, it goes on and on. Neil has always been two steps ahead of any direction I could give. Samples and vocal modulation are aspects that come and go but are soon becoming a more permanent part of the setup. The balance between my vision and practicality is difficult, but I grow closer every show. As for live visuals, it currently sits at the centre of my mind, a vital piece of the puzzle that I have somehow dodged this far. I’ve been inspired by bands like Messyng, who’s visual element is mesmerising. I intend on making it everything it is possible for it to be.

As for best kept secrets, well, I don’t think there are very many. I will however say that I think The Roundy is under-utilised. The venue that is home to Plugd Records has housed some great shows of late, and although I’ve never played it myself, it’s a pretty hip spot.

Ghostking Is Dead - Hausu Records

REMY: You’re part of a brand new independent music collective in Cork called Hausu, tell us a bit about it and why you felt it was something you wanted to be a part of?

GKID: Hausu is family. It was from the beginning and always will be. It’s a humbling experience to be surrounded by such incredible artists, to be so close and work together. We held a listening party, for my own new project and also other completed projects, yet to be released by other Hausu personnel. It was a phenomenal experience, where we got to get a herd of people who we admire, respect and love into a house and share what we have made. To feel so connected to other people’s work, to share in that emotion, to help one another develop, and to speed our own development through co-operation. That’s what Hausu is. It’s a star on the horizon for me, a promise of a bright future.

REMY: You have put a lot of emphasis on spoken-word on new EP This Is Doubt, to a backdrop of hip-hop beats, who would be your favourite Irish hip-hop acts at present?

GKID: We’re so lucky to be living through this golden age of Irish music. Irish hip-hop seems to have come in a storm, suddenly the beating heart of a whole new movement. I distinctly remember catching Kojaque live around the formation of Hausu, when he was touring Deli Daydreams. That show rocked me to my core, showing me this whole new world of possibilities, the reality of live music in Ireland beyond what I knew: guitars and drumkits.

The Softboy crew are all like that. I consider them have some of the most authentic interpretations of a global style in an Irish context. Hearing how Luka Palm and Kojaque approach stuff is refreshing. Some great acts are coming out of Dublin, Jafaris also being of particular note. ‘Found My Feet’ brings me somewhere else, instant mood switcher. Dublin aside, the southeast has some great names: guys like 7th Obi, Pat Lagoon, Awkward Z, producers like Alex Gough and LHK. Artists I can’t wait to work with more closely.

REMY: Finally, what is the most important thing to you as an artist with regard to the end result of the music you make? What does satisfaction look like?

GKID: Satisfaction is connection. I often forget people are going to listen to what I make: how could I make music truly for myself knowing I’m releasing it for everyone else. Of course, approaching things like that can blind you to the truth of what you’re doing. It all hits home again if someone pulls me aside, if I get an email, if someone tells me their friend came across my song, if I play a show. Seeing that what I’ve made has connected. I’m not speaking of etiquette, your friends will listen to your songs, sure, and people will always go to gigs. The satisfaction lies in knowing I’ve gotten some genuine response, real emotion, real enjoyment. It makes any amount of struggle worthwhile, and it’s why I’ll never stop.

Ghostking Is Dead's This Is Doubt EP will be released via Hausu Records on 17th of October, across all major streaming platforms.