Ghostown FEATURE: mental health & creativity
Ghostown is back with a new album. I genuinley found him to be an open book when talking about his mental health experiences, life and how he uses creativity to as a positive form of self expression.
When I messaged Rael he asked me what else I liked of theirs apart from Reflectionz (2009)album.
‘Whyte Coate’ is dark, childlike, spooky hip hop Lyrics. Most of the songs I listened to took me into the emotional horrorcore world of Ghostown. I was drawn to the eery, carnival childlike samples & frenetic uptempo of the piano chord. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster -it felt like a metaphor for how my mind works at times.
I then found a page of theirs with an Empty fridge, no food – except for an ineligible note. My eyes fell on the bottom of the picture showing 3 social media icons. I clicked on Twitter,
I was intrigued to find out Ghostown’s story.
I think often when I’m making music it doesn’t feel like I’m thinking. Cos I’m just often going .with the flow, I’m playing with the keyboard and come up with something and I think yeah I like that.. and then I’ll add something else. And it seems like I’m not thinking cos it seems like.. I’m just playing.. things are coming together. And the same with the lyrics. I suppose it’s a process -it’s a special type of thinking.
Very often ideally for me when I write the lyrics I don’t think actually think at all about what I’m going to write or the message or anything.I just make some music cos basically I do work with D.J. Kirsa a bit. And I do all the music. D.J. Kirsa does the Scratch.
So if I’ve made something that inspires me, then words just come out. I don’t have to think about it. Particularly there will be a flow of words like in that song ‘Spekta Gadjo’. I particularly like the first part which is quite strange compared to the second part which is kind of more joyful (even though it doesn’t sound like it) and maybe more classic, I suppose.
The first part I find more interesting. So, because I don’t use many samples as the main riff unless with Pedro. He contributed to a few samples on my new album.
What types of samples/loops of his interested you?
The ones I turned into songs, I can send you the SoundCloud playlist. I usually find a flow before I find the lyrics. The amount of sounds available is ridiculous
Can you tell me more about your moniker name, Spektah Gadjo& what inspired the songs?
Spektah Gadjo is a kind of a play on words as you have a spectre like a ghost and Gadjo like the Gypsey word for Stranger.
Spekta Gadjo was written in 2011 & I’d split up with my French girlfriend and gone to live on my own
For a moment let’s put aside your style of using dark humour (a -a bit like Grave Diggaz who parody issues like violence in a cartoonish way.) When I listened to part two of Spekta Gadjo
if someone doesn’t watch the videos and listen to how you satire this alter ego -if you just read the lyrics-they are really sad.
Your lyrics speak of a hermit, with no highs, no lows y- a person who is a ghost -a stranger to others and himself.
For the last 4 years, I’ve been working as an English teacher for adults which has been nice to start with but I’d really had enough of it particularly during the COVID crisis cos it just went on to full-time telephone lessons. I I was doing 25 hours a week on the telephone. I did a tiny bit of the zoom type thing, I found it worse.
With the telephone, at least, you can walk around in a flat whilst you’re speaking. But with zoom you have to stay and look at the screen-look interested not just sound interested but look interested with the person that is speaking. And you’ve got the sound issues with that as well.
And no, I preferred the telephone. And I didn’t like the telephone
And that’s why I ended up being on sick leave. On a few occasions, I thought I can’t handle this anymore especially on a Sunday thinking God, on Monday I’ve got to start again.I ended up going to the doctor saying I can’t handle this- its too much stress.
So your teaching English to adults contract ends in a few days. so, where will you be in terms of your income?
So everytime I have finished working I’ve claimed unemployment benefits, I going to focus more on music. Probably the best shot I had at making enohuh moent to do what I want was in 2008/9. I got 30 gigs in a year but even that doesn’t meet the minium wage. It could have worked if my girfriend at the time didnt care. So, she was like if the money from the gigs don’t bring in the money then you need to find a job that pays the bills. I’m not wanting to blame her. We had a 5 year old daughter. And we needed to pay the bills.
Before we did the interview I emailed you think about what words came to mind when you see and thinks of the words
MENTAL HEALTH: Alcohol, Drugs, Sport and repetition
CREATIVITY: Don’t compare, Let yourself go, Don’t think.
I’ve got a few things to say on Mental Health and music and creativity -so one thing that was difficult was taking a job cos I got a job in a supermarket after that. Like a basic sort of job. And that was really difficult to accept, cos it was like; ok you’ve got to do that now. Yeah, I started to feel like a failure, really cos I suppose it goes back to that song Ida cos if I had better prepared myself as a younger person then I wouldn’t have to go and work in a supermarket at 30 years old. Because that is the only job I could do because I spent all my time hoping to make a career in music. So, it was kind of like a brutal wake-up call.
The lyrics to Isa are stark and raw. Again it has al ot of regret and anger and confusion mixed in the lyrics and the way you produced it.
yeah, it wasn’t that long ago -it must be about 2 years ago. I’m not sure how much I remember of it… It was some kind of nostalgic memories – how do you call it -Autobiographical. And I suppose it was lots of things. I suppose its quite sad really. Thinking about stuff I should have done differently. I wish I had done that. I wish I hadn’t done that- mostly. So I would have = I would’ve = I’d’ve = I’d’a. That’s where the name came from.
That would drive me insane. How did it have an effect on your mental health & how did you deal with it?
For one I found I wasn’t getting enough sleep at all cos it felt like my brain wasn’t functioning. My doctor took that into account when putting me on sick leave.And since I’ve stopped that job I can sleep. No problems
so you identified what the problem was – you went to the doctor you were quite responsible, and didn’t use bad coping mechanisms.
What happened to your Mental health after you went on leave?
After a week of being on leave, I started to get into my ongoing music projects which I had already started… and video projects and stuff. I spent a decent amount of the day working on music. Then when I go to sleep I will have a repetition of music but I see it as more positive cos I may be think of a new melody or some new lyrics. I don’t mind that.
‘Butterfly’ was first recorded in June 2020 – I’ve been listening to the lyrics and they are so upbeat.
I wrote it in May because there are references to the curent period/time we’re living in.
Butterfly is going to be released as part of a new album released in September/October. The name of the album will most likely be Fringe head which makes reference to a strange sarcastic fish. (laughter0It is actually going to be 20 songs but 5 will be interludes.
I did google the fish to see if this is true and it is!
It reminds me of the saying Je me’n fiche -I am a fish.
On Youtube, there is a list to show the progress of ‘Fringe Head’.
I took to the video the first time I watched it. I’m going to put my opinion across to you. In most of the videos, I have seen of yours neither you nor D.J. Kirsa shows yourselves.
yes, it is the first time
What I had in my head is that instead of letting your shyness trait keep you from expressing yourself. You managed to overcome that obstacle and find a creative outlet with the cartoonish video and broke the boundaries to express yourself and challenge yourself.
What I’m getting at is because I’ve done some thinking about this.I’ve realised of course you need to think when you are being creative, of course, you need to let yourself go to a degree but there are different types of ways of letting yourself go. We can compare ourselves to other people cos that is how we get our inspiration, don’t we?
In my research, I came across how difficult it was for you when you moved to Montpellier with your girlfriend.
RAEL: (laughs) Yeah I know what you are gonna say.
So because of your moniker name, they immediately assumed that you were affiliated with this guy?
um…well, he’s actually a French guy who started this sect- he was a Sports journalist & all of a sudden he started talking about being abducted by Aliens & had been shown the truth -the universal truth. He publicly stated this and everyone took the piss out of him.
Raelian wasn’t a common name in the U.K. & I thought it was a good name for music, I had used that name in Scotland and continued to use it in France & people reacted really badly to it (laughs).
That was kind of how Ghostown came about cos I was like I need to find a new name. And cos the song ‘Ghost town’by the Specials -I’ve always loved that song. it sounded quite apt for the music I made, cos there was always some kind of spooky ghost-like theme going on.