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Guest feature : the affinity triangle

CREATIVISTS -I WANT YOU PROJECT

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As part of my mission to promote mental wellbeing and creative self-expression,Duncan Foster, who is a producer and musician of the Affinity Triangle & novelist based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire wrote this enlightening, charming & candid portrait of his childhood, & how being able to express himself in negative and in more positive creative ways helped him. I want to thank, Dunc for making my job as an interviewer far too easy.

The Affinity triangle is working on multiple projects in the next upcoming week. I’ll feature them on my website.

In Dunc’s own words ” I write & produce all the music for The Affinity Triangle, sometimes featuring instrumentalists such as Liz Dever on the Violin. Although the latest release from The Affinity Triangle is a Dub Remix of the preceding release, An Saoghal Stuthach (the material world). The song has been remixed by Dark Optics a World/Dub/Triphop producer & an old schoolmate of Dunc’s. Dark Optics is also releasingmusic featuring The Affinity Triangle, the words of Dunc Foster on a track called Pilgrimage. The two hope to collaborate more in the future

His music is described as folk-pop, pop, melodic dub ( with other mixes).

Before going into this I just wanna say that I’ve had lots of fun in my life & found enjoyment in my experiences & in the people I have connected with, my family & friends who I love. Talking about issues which have a negative effect on mental health is gonna draw me to talk about my own little struggles on the path to my current situation. Everyone has different levels of privileges & disadvantages. I’m not comparing my personal experiences to anyone else’s.

Daisy: Duncan doesn’t dwell on the past. It does give me a bit of context. I am conscious that reliving these emotions can bring you down. I think it important to know /identify what you see as negative to your mental health can work in your favour because you know what triggers you and you can start to formulate an action plan to protect your privacy & to assert your boundaries.

I was a free & creatively expressive child. I grew up in a small house with a big garden in Handsworth, Darnall, East Sheffield with my Mum & Dad, an older brother & a younger sister.

We used to draw & craft & make plays & games in the garden. My parents got me & my brother nylon string guitars when I was about 5 & we made our first band, no chords…

We moved to Matlock in Derbyshire when I was about 10 years old & for me it seemed to go downhill from there for a long time… I was a sensitive being & still am, likemost people I assume, until we develop ways of dealing with ourselves & the world around us for better or worse, either accepting & developing or numbing & repressing. I used to write stories & songs & create worlds & games throughout my childhood & teens, back then it was a way of escaping but also I was exploring my experience through creativity.

My brother got a 4-track digital recorder when I was about 12 or 13 & I started using it. We had a bedroom band with a couple of mates but never played outside of it, I recorded my first album ‘Prosaic Mess’ on my own & didn’t show many people, too anxious about their reactions & it made me feel so vulnerable.It was a screechy 13 or 14 year olds voice trying to sound gruff like Kurt Cobain with drum loops from the 4-track & Grungy guitar riffs & bass lines. I was now hooked on creating tapes & album song lists, working out artwork & filling books with scribbly pictures & obscure lyrics expressing my teenage angst & confusion.

My Parents were struggling with work, marriage, drinking & their drawn out break up affected all of us.

The house we’d moved into in Matlock was bigger than the house in Sheffield but it was never decorated, I used to slide down the rolled up carpet down the stairs for the whole 9 tears we lived there. I lived in the attic room where I painted on the crumbling plaster walls & punched holes in them through to the eaves.

This became my sanctuary where I experimented with my identity, my self-expression, my creativity & my exploration of intoxicating substances.

My mates would all gather there along with my little sis’ & sometimes my big bro.
I had severe acne throughout my teens & grew my hair to cover it, I pierced my own ears, I drew spirals & flowers on my t-shirts & all over my stuff, shredded my jeans & sewed all sorts of stuff to them.

There was nothing to help explain the pain & frustration I felt at this age, I believe we pick it up from all around us with our sensitive beings & we carry it with us from trauma, whether ancestral trauma,

family trauma or mations on my dad’s computer. I never really thought about what I was doing it for at the time, I just had to do it, I had so much energy & emotional fuzz inside me & questions & sensations & reflections of the world around me & the things I heard about, that it all had to go somewhere & I dread to think what I would’ve done if I didn’t have my creative nature which my parents encouraged & I thank them for that.

If I wasn’t creating stuff I was out on the streets on my skateboard using my body.

Like a lot of youths with unstable homes I didn’t now how to manage my drug habits & keeping up with my parents drinking was enough to set me off on a self-destructive path, I don’t blame them for that as they were facing the same oppression & the beginning of the same social pressures that my generation is facing now along with all other types of problems that we face in the world on a daily basis.

Everyone has different opportunities in this world & I’m more privileged than a lot of them so I’m not complaining but just because the opportunities are potentially there it doesn’t mean we’re taught or we know how to make the most of them or even realise they are opportunities or privileges, especially when mental health isn’t talked about or dealt with.

So mapping out our experiences & the different energies at play which have an effect on our hearts & minds can really help us to realise why we struggle & what can be positive or negative in our lives & the most progressive ways to deal with it all.

I carried on making music & album artwork year after year, just for myself, it gave me s

couple of days later I got it checked out & the twig had pierced my eardrum & dislocated all the tiny delicate bones which vibrate & send the messages to my brain for hearing. I was finding it impossible to socialize or concentrate on anything, the tinnitus was so intense & my hearing was half missing.

I couldn’t sleep because of the sound & the feeling of dread & every time I started to drop off, screaming dark spirits engulfed the left side of my head & I woke trembling in fear & confusion. I couldn’t enjoy anything for a long time & nobody really understood, I couldn’t communicate my pain & experience & there was nothing for outsiders to see except me twitching out & looking depressed.

I was already more of an introvert than extrovert & this caused me to sink deeper behind my own skin.

My brain slowly got used to my damaged ear & hearing & listening slowly became possible. I had 20% hearing in the damaged ear last time I got it checked, & the tinnitus remained, like a constant reminder, billions of tiny angry voices screaming at me from inside my ear, warping & ringing with different frequencies, turning into words sometimes & shouting at me, really freaking me out. Loud noises would make it crunch & squelch & do all sorts of distracting & nasty stuff.

The lymph-vessel behind my bad ear would pulse intensely & swell up giving me headaches & dizziness. I’d constantly be trying to pop my ear & trying to crack it with jaw movements or just giving into its distraction & fading into it staring into nothing. My mates didn’t believe that there was anything wrong with it, I became full of self-doubt & lost a lot of confidence.

I managed to pull myself out of my self-pity enough to get my sen together & went inter-railing round Europe with a couple of mates & my brother which helped give me some vitality back. I took a little nylon string guitar & got properly back into writing songs which I recorded when I got back, on the same 4-track recorder. The music I produced now was more subdued, still with beauty but sorrowful.

All my mates went to University but I couldn’t relate to any of the courses so I became a self-employed dry stone waller in Derbyshire.

I had found academic subjects pretty easy but none of it meant anything to me. I remember saying to one of my mates, “why can’t there be a science of life? I’d study that.”

I loved the work & being outside all the time, writing songs & ideas for films & stories in little books while I worked but had no understanding of running a business or managing money or myself.

Without my creativity to focus my mind I would’ve only have dark & sinister thoughts pounding my head, loneliness can really mess you up & I felt like I was being surrounded by dark spirits & energies. Matlock wasn’t a good place to live for me, you are looked down on for being ‘different’, there aren’t any opportunities or support for creative people.

The only outlet for the art I was producing was local open mic nights which I slowly build up the confidence to perform at & this gave me more of a reason to work on & refine my songs & performing skills which gave me more purpose creatively & really helped to lift my spirits. Throughout my early twenties I spent a lot of time alone, not really connecting to anyone properly except through taking recreational drugs & drinking, I didn’t have a computer or a smart phone so I didn’t have the internet & didn’t get into connecting online until much later. But somewhere down there I started seeking for whatever was missing, through my creativity I felt like I was touching the edges of it, whatever it was that was lacking from my understanding of life.

I found a book in a bookshop while waiting for a bus back from walling near Bakewell, called ‘the human touch’. I was looking for something to start making sense of the creative ideas I was having & feeling but was afraid of religious looking books. I didn’t read much of it but it blew my mind & made me realise that there were other creative people with different ways of perceiving reality & I felt less alone.

One concept from it stuck with me, ‘the great theatre of space & time’, I took this idea & wrote a film idea based on it & songs inspired by it. I had just read Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ & was inspired by this to write the story about a traveller who hears rumours of this great theatre of space & time & tracks them to a coffee shop in Amsterdam.

The idea was that the owners had found a formula to the big bang & therefore were able to simulate it, moving backwards or forwards in time through a computer simulation, but by smoking a specially grown weed you could tune into the system & travel between dimensions or multiple universes. It was like a hippy version of Alex Garland’s ‘DEVS’ which came out this year funnily enough.

I feel like this was the beginning of my spiritual seeking & evolution, I only needed a tiny bit of information, a slightly different perspective & it was like the sluice-gates were opened & possibilities came gushing in.

If you have a kind & wild creative heart but suffer from loneliness & depression in a spiritually & creatively stagnant place like Matlock in Derbyshire (or probably most of the country…) then the easiest thing to do is self-destruct. An opportunity came up for me in West Yorkshire where my Da’ had moved to, he’d settled into a new life & after suffering from depression he was going back to teach again for the money, even though it was part of the reason for his depression, the pressures on the curriculum & not being free to teach properly.He’d been working for British Waterways in West Yorkshire & had bought an empty narrowboat after him & my Mum split but couldn’t afford to keep it much longer. So I managed to get a job as the lock-keeper on Tuel Lane Deep Lock in Sowerby Bridge & rented my Da’s empty narrowboat in the Marina at Todmorden, which I made homely with wall-hangings & fairy lights & a blow-up mattress & electric heater.This was an amazing escape from the gloom of my existence in Matlock & even though loneliness & booze were my friends it was a step in the right direction & a sense of adventure & change helped me to keep my creativity flowing & therefore my head from imploding.

I saved up to go to Australia & took my demons with me for a year of adventure with music & meeting people & letting myself go crazy with mind-bending acid trips & creative epiphanies on the other side of the globe, ignorant to the state of the culture in Australia (but recently went back with my head screwed on to see it with open eyes & feel it with an open heart).

I didn’t last long back in Matlock after returning to Britain before the darkness crept in & I got myself into some awful states & situations. So I left back up north to Manchester where I crashed around for three months before finding a shared house, knocking on doors for charity fundraisers ‘Home’, which helped crack me out of my shell. From Manchester to Germany to work at a travelling medieval beer festival, then hitch-hiking North Spain & South France with a good friend. People take the piss out of us ‘hippies’ for ‘finding ourselves’ while travelling around but it is a real experience which helps us to get closer to our truths if we are willing to listen & acknowledge the symbolism of the experiences, & to just find out how we react in different situations (recently I walked with a mate from Matlock to Hebden Bridge wild camping over four days, it was physically & mentally challenging & spiritually empowering & the closest thing to a pilgrimage I’ve done. I recommend this wholeheartedly).

Everywhere I went I took an acoustic guitar, I’m self-taught so I learn through my own song-writing & exploration of patterns & ideas so people are always either disappointed that I can’t give them an oasis fix or blown away by my originality. Playing the guitar with no constraints is such a therapeutic practice & one which I will always value, the process of writing a song is always insightful & rewarding, flushing out trapped emotions & finding a wholeness where everything can flow satisfyingly.

Having this community of creatives was so good for me. It allowed me to have a real purpose to my art & an audience who actually cared & wanted more.

I still had lots of mental health issues, still suffering from my damaged ear & problems with drugs & alcohol & went through a big wave of deep paranoia through this time. I think it was all a bit overwhelming, I didn’t feel up to date because I’d been alone for all those years, I thought I was being left out of the bigger picture & everyone was in on something behind my back, smartphone technology freaked me out.

It all sent me off the wall. I pick up on so many little nuances, expressions & body language & symbols in every day experiences & during this paranoia I was hyper-aware & didn’t know what to do with it. The writing was the only way of dealing with it, it was like I was writing my way inside, in through my mind & communicating with my subconscious, searching for my soul which I hoped would have some answers ( definitely more questions & deeper understanding).

I was struggling with my damaged ear while playing loud music too, it took me a while to discover earplugs & by then I’d done a bit more damage than I needed. But either way, rehearsing & playing gigs & getting feedback for my creativity was keeping me going but still, we had no mentors & had no idea how to manage this band or ourselves.

Through my upward struggle with mental health, it was like I delved into the core of my creative self & found a way to bring all my creative ideas together & out to the surface. I called it The Affinity Triangle & developed this concept & my ideas over the years as a solo project. It was a big overwhelming project which I kept trying to simplify into something tangible, something I could work with & interact with & use to connect to other people.

I kept it on the back burner while dealing with the band & everything else going on in my life.
The Tiny Minds finally got our album mixed to a listenable standard after 3 years of having it recorded, struggling with money & organisation. We got some attention from a small label in Leeds, Dance to The Radio, who put one of our tracks on a vinyl compilation & got us 3 support slots with the pigeon detectives, the best gig was at The Leadmill, Sheffield to around 900 people which is still one of my favourite half hours of this life of mine, the crowd loved us & playing songs I wrote to a willing audience dressed up with my hand-painted peach guitar will always stick with me.

The band split up due to fall-outs & creative differences & not having a manager not long after. Since then I have been developing The Affinity Triangle, as much as it is possible to work on my creativity while still being a slave to the system, squeezing it in the gaps of free time. Being an artist who doesn’t come from money in this society is extremely difficult. It’s a full-time job on top of the job you work to survive in the system.

The role of an artist in society is totally undervalued, we are used & abused, art is a huge part of everyone’s human experience, it is our connection with spirit & soul & the invisible things. It teaches us valuable lessons & takes us on journeys to discover parts of ourselves we would otherwise neglect, it reflects our times & shows us visions of the future or ideas from the past. Our perceptions of art are personal, it can reflect our inner worlds so we can better understand ourselves & what we need, to enable us to spiritually evolve & become better people.

In a small thriving community like a tribe, the role of the artists is respected & honoured & they are encouraged & supported in exploring their art as deeply as possible for the good of all the people, as it is naturally known that art is an essential part of the community & vital to the spiritual & mental health of its people.

I feel a big responsibility to never give in to the pressures of this soul-sucking society, I will be an artist for the rest of my life & develop & explore my art as deeply as I can take it, for Peace, Love & Truth.

I am developing an interactive storytelling game, I have finished writing my first book which is a fable inspired story & the first part in a trilogy for people of 12 years & over, the songs I am writing, recording & releasing now are inspired by the concepts & characters in the story & reflect its environment. The process of developing & creating all these ideas which are all intertwined is my spiritual exploration & evolution. I didn’t know about spirituality of any kind until the last eight or nine years when I began to seek it out.

It is always going to be a personal journey but through creativity & development, we can share & inspire other people to find their own way. It is not an easy thing to have feelings & experiences & conversations about something which is taboo in our culture, & often we can feel like outsiders, especially when the majority is sucked in to the religion of ‘modern science’ & technological progression & dogmatic atheism, or the major religions such as Christianity which are just an older means of controlling the masses, but there are people & communities & events which support us on our spiritual explorations.

There is also so much fake spiritual stuff out there too & so much extreme religious dogma that people can be easily put off & mistake creative spirituality for dogmatic religion.

My creative journey & development leads me to research all sorts of beliefs & possibilities & helps me to develop my own ideas about existence. The more I develop it & understand myself & my place & purpose in the world the better condition my mental health becomes, creativity can be a process of nurturing & through it we can learn the values of love & respect & empathy & the symbiotic nature of life, I become more positive the more I explore, my fascination & wonder only grow & I want to find the best way of sharing this experience with other people.

It gives me purpose & a reason to stay healthy & in tune with nature & the universe. I live creatively in every way I can & I’m always learning. I forage for food & plants to make tea from in order to balance the bacteria in my gut & maintain a strong immune system, amongst all the other many health benefits which nature & plants have to offer.

I eat a vegan diet & love cooking, which I have always loved but nowadays I make food-based more on how it makes me feel rather than just the taste.

I practice yoga & breathing & meditation & mantra & speak to my ancestors, all of which helps me to deal with my tinnitus & social anxiety. I approach life with compassion & wonder & a feeling that everything is possible, I believe in everything, existence is multidimensional & it’s all happening at the same time, from billions of different perspectives, which are all a part of the whole as we, ‘existence’, explores itself.

Life is amazing & it can be a struggle sometimes but if we let our hearts be free then we can find positive connections & create better realities. I have faith in the infinite possibilities of the great mystery. All this means that my problems are no longer real problems, there’s always a solution & I live in the moment & deal with them.

I can clearly see now that it was spirituality which was missing from life as a youngster. Education meant nothing to me because there was nothing holding it all together & giving it purpose. The subjects were segregated & meaningless, everything was just about being a part of the system & getting a career to work for it & make money for it. Life is about finding truth wherever we can uncover it & spiritual creativity is my way of doing this.

Duncan Foster has published his debut novel.

Review here

LINKS

THE AFFINITY TRIANGLE WEBSITE ( FOR UPDATES)

BANDCAMP

DEEZER

YOUTUBE
FACEBOOK

SOUNDCLOUD

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Feature: Staghorns on music, Mental health & creativity


Staghorns a part of  the metropolitan  sound of  music  subculture in Tel aviv talking about Mental health , creative outlets, life and his music ventures.

I’ve been sitting on Staghorns for a couple of months – another great Soundcloud discovery. I connected body, mind and soul with Tel Aviv native-born Staghorns -Shlomi’s track -Outfluence.
The track’s title is the opposite of influence listening to this track conjures colours, soft textures, a breezy summer house tune. It is playful. ‘Outfluence’ and a couple of his other tracks ‘Uneasy Dave’ and another track yet to be released take you on a journey into the very heart of Tel Aviv’s thriving electronic dance music culture.

Staghorns music is inviting the world to enjoy the sounds of Tel Aviv’s music subculture: the message seems to be about Freedom. His sound is infectious without the unwanted side effects of living in a COVID 19 World. Staghorns other tracks are typically optimistic, he experiments with ambient sounds and swings right over the sensual acid synth sounds of electronic dance music.

I love the track Outfluence – it has so much energy and bounces.

Hello Staghorns! Thank you so much for doing this Feature. Firstly I want to say I love the new video for your track ‘Outfluence’. Can you tell me more about how it came about?

 

A page   LoDisco makes videos for hobbies and wanted to make a video and I appreciate it very much.

(LoDisco  promotes upcoming artists in the LoFi disco and LoFi House scene  -Join channel on LoDisco

How did the name Staghorns come about?

Okay, my family name is Zvi (pronounced Tzvi) which is a stand for Stag and a Staghorn is a very interesting plant.

(Okay I’m going to have to look that one up. I am such a geek haha! )

Me too -lol

What if anything inspired your track and your music?

My interest comes from my own trying to make sense of life and living, through the game of parallel sound channels, learning through a playful process.

When/What made you start playing music?

When I was young, I had a Yamaha PSR e413, which is an entry-level keyboard, it had some cool sounds on it and I learned how to record songs into it.

What genres of music do you like to perform in?

House music

What kind of people connect with you and your music?

Most of the people I know feel open with me, and they also feel open with my music, even though some of them are not familiar with electronic music.

What quote/sentence would you say best describes you and your music?

Looping the loops

Going back to ‘OutFluence’ I was drawn to the Alan Watts-esque sample 

Actually in Outfluence I sampled a Psychiatric from YouTube who talks about how to handle with anxiety. but maybe he cited Alan Watt? I don’t know. 

Who are your influences in music? And why?

Tiga, Four Tet, Booka Shade – They came through my mind when I thought “wow I want to make something like this!” while listening to them.

When you think/see the two words Creativity & mental health what 3 words come to mind for each one.

Creativity – Art, Sex, Ideas
Mental Health – Anxiety, Depression, Addiction

How does being creative help you?

Being creative helps me express myself.

What are your experiences or views with on mental health issues and the music & entertainment industry?

Music can be something to lean on, especially if you create it yourself…mmm I’ve been struggling with anxiety all my life, 10 months ago I decided to take care of it seriously.

Have you had negative experiences in your life that drew you to a creative outlet like music? And if so how did exploring your creativity help you?

Sometimes when I have bad dreams it affects the mood of my next creation.

(I think I can relate. When a person’s Mental Health becomes unwell -for myself it feels like I’m under the Influence of my Illnesses. Your track ‘OutFluence’ is the opposite of how I would describe the symptoms of Mental Health -isolation, fear, etc.)

Is there a bigger message you are trying to send out and what is your message?

The bigger message is an oldie but a goodie…
Telling my story as a legitimate one and hoping the effect is contagious…

It is a crazy world we live in. What is life like for people living in Tel-Aviv with COVID?

It’s hard to see the city shut down during lockdown, especially after you experience how vivid Tel Aviv is.

Are you trying to do something or create awareness with your music career or hobby?

it’s a work in progress.
I’m figuring out what is in the core of my creative process.
Basically, I’m trying to make myself feel more “at home” in the world.

What is the weirdest job you have had?

I was an Escape Room operator

(Haha! Funny & cool too. That is ironic in the sense that Anxiety is about escaping form what we are trying to feel as opposed to embrace our fears and conquer our goals.

Your new track ‘ Uneasy Dave’ (Big Momma’s House Records) has a great acid sound to it. It’s an intriguing title.

Uneasy Dave is a pun
It’s like Uneasy Day

but Uneasy Dave stands for a character who feels uneasy and shy. if you hear the first 2 seconds of the track, you’ll hear a “heh…” a sound of discomfort

(The first words that came to my mind when I heard the track is that is creative, innovative, sensual – the title seems to tie in with the anxiety and mental health issues yourself and many other people can find deliberating to live with at times…)  

 

 

Are you trying to do something or create awareness with your music career or hobby?

 

it’s a work in progress.

I’m figuring out what is in the core of my creative process. 

Basically, I’m trying to make myself feel more “at home” in the world.

(I think I can relate.In my opinion when my Mental Health becomes unwell – it feels like I’m under the Influence of my Illnesses. Your track ‘Outfluence’ is the opposite of how I would describe the symptoms of Mental Health-isolation, fear & other symptoms people can find debilitating to live with at times)

(It has been fun and pleasure collaborating with you and finding out something about Israel’s electronic house scene and I appreciate you opening up about your own Mental health issues and how creativity has helped you embrace and improve your Mental Wellbeing).

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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. 

PRE INTERVIEW

When I messaged Rael he asked me what else I liked of theirs apart from Reflectionz  (2009)album.

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I panicked because I had never heard any other music of theirs apart from’ Whyte Coate’. I went into research mode- I went on a Google Ghostown mission 

 

‘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,

Content has been deleted. DELETED! 

My thoughts groaned.  I was starving. I wanted to know what the fridge was hiding. It had to be a  joke. Ignoring my physical hunger pangs,

I clicked on the Instagram link and waited for it to load up. What would I find? Porn Food? Explicit recipes mixed with adult-only contents.

 
An obnoxious group of words told me nothing would lead me to a full belly here either.  In my head, I laughed at myself.


   Never thought I’d be freaking out over an empty fridge pic.


My anorexic brain freaking out over an empty fridge of fodder for my brain?

One more icon left to try . Youtube. 
It drip-fed me the entire song including a video.  The empty fridge track followed 

EMPTY FRIDGE SYNDROME

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.

 

When you reread the lyrics like many years after I can see that the hermit is actually me even though it sounds likeanother character. So there’s being a hermit in my general lifestyle, I suppose.

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What is your typical lifestyle these days?

 

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.

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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.

 

Repetition drives me crazy. I mean repetition in my job or everyday life. So, for example, when I worked in the supermarket it was repetition. I don’t know if this happens to other people. But when I dream I will end up dreaming of that repetition life of what I did during the day. The same thing would happen to me with the teaching. I’d go to bed and dream of having imaginary conversations.

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. 

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All the people I’ve ever asked to do a feature I usually know nothing about so it’s good to know where to find you. to keep updated on your next album.

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.

 

I do tend to over analyse.

 

 

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.

 

   Head over to Bank of sounds with Ghostown to understand the creative process and experience of how Rael and D.J. Kirsa aka Jae serpentine worked together.

 

 

 

 

Bank of Sound Feature -Ghostown

All the people I’ve ever asked to do a feature I usually know nothing about so it’s good to know where to find you.

 

Who is Ghostown? 

Ghostown is made up
Of Rael and D.J. Kirsa.  They do go  by various other monikers.

Their music  style is smelting pot  d hip-hop, mixed with  old school  breakbeats,  they  merge with   trip hop and use bass. They prefer  creating their own samples.

There is a hint of Balkan eastern  folk  hop music.

For this upcoming album a family  acquaintance, PEDRO gero donated a few samples  for Rael to mess about with to complement to the upcoming album.

They have 6 albums released   Culture Vulture 2004 Reflectionz       2009
Spektah Gadjo 2013 Shanksville      2018
Wuchak            2019
And their current album
Fringehead       2020

Ghostown performed extensively yet sporadically mostly in France, playing at alternative festivals with the likes of

  • Balkan Beat Box
  • Chinese Man
  • Degiheugi
  • Brain Damage
  • Beat Assailant

 

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  The first track that  Ghostown released in May 2020is the scintillating ‘Butterfly. It’s s an upbeat melodywith positive  lyrics that flow with the ups and downs of life  & reality.

 

It is a theme around doing ones best in life no matter what.

RAEL

 

 

On ghostown’s  Youtube channel , there is a playlist to show the progress of the tracks that have been released  and to help fans and keep up to date with  the albums next move.

Here is a link to take you directly to that YouTube playlist –  ‘FringeHead’

 

It was written in May because there are references to the curent period we’re living in. The video was created around social distancing. I called D.J. Kirsa and told him about an idea i had and he was up for it.

 

‘Butterfly’ is the first track ttaken  off the  new album . The release date will be around  September/October.

 

The name  of the album will most likely be ‘Fringehead’ which makes reference to a  strange sarcastic fish.

It is actually going to be 20 songs but 5 will be interludes.

Going back to the Jonny Marre tapes  & the Je ei ,marre saying, 

I really like  how the  Butterfly video is produced. I’ve noticed that in most of the videos that  I have seen of your work you don’t show yourselves in any of them..
I impressed with how well the video and track is made. It’s  a long process of finding an audio sample to fit with an animation clip and get the timing precise. I would be really proud of myself if it was my work. 

I don’t  know whether you are consciously aware of how  your first time self editing , possibly helped you come up with an idea where  both you and Kirsa overcame  a way to not fixate on your  hermit  trait.
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.

Thank you so  much  for the chat. It was insightful  and  I  I  can’t  wait to hear more tracks  off the album.

 

No, its the first time ,really

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BANDCAMP

Bank of Sounds Feature :Dee Wallz

When I first heard this track (2018) on hype machine. My curiosity stirred from the intro of ‘PlayStation'( a sample is taken from one of the most iconic game systems start-up theme ever) I have listened to this track at least 80 times since finding it on hype machine..

*The inspiration for the track came following a break up with an ex-girlfriend and Dee went into his studio, let all the creativity and emotions pour out and the result was this.

I’ve been listening to a few of Dee’s tracks over the past year. I particularly relate to his introspective approach to his lyrics and subtle wry humour.

I decided to get in touch( and after many months of sorting out how we would go about doing it ). I’m so grateful for Dee’s patience in helping me gain the courage to do my first feature interview on my blog.

So who are you?

I’m Dee Wallz one of the best up and coming rappers lol

Yeah man, I love your optimistic attitude. You do have a great flow and rhythm, and a distinct voice that has developed over the last 2 years.

How old are you? ( little ice breaker haha)

I’m pretty old now lol I’m 22

Yeah, you are so old. You come across as rather driven and focused for someone in their 20’s. No offence Though one source I found claims that you were 25 in 2017! )

*To clarify Dee is 27 & still young.*

Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from Memphis, TN but I’m living in the great city of Houston Tx .

What put you on the music path?

I actually started writing with my cousin Jarvis in Mississippi, I did it for fun but I really became dedicated to it in my hometown of Memphis, at the age of 13. And I’ve been writing ever since.

That’s pretty cool. Memphis is a hub for musical talent. So many great artists like Wendy Rene, Aretha Franklin come from Memphis. Its a place with an intense political history. And it’s where civil rights activist Martin Luther King was assassinated. You have that MLK track. It is a place where many iconic artists such as Louie Armstrong have gone to perform and been well received and perhaps been inspired by politics. You rap with so much depth & soul. There is nothing ugly about your rapping style.

Why do you continue to do music?

To me it’s therapeutic for me whether talking about my life experiences and/or it allows to express my creativity with my wittiness and wordplay.

Who do you look up to in the industry?

I definitely look up to guys like Jay Z and Nas, I love their growth, being just great artist (s). And now seeing how successful they are in other business ventures inspires me.

What influences your music?

My musical influences are from all over the place. From J Cole, Nas, Lil Wayne, T.i, MF DOOM, Big KRIT Jay Electronica, Jay Z, Elzhi, Royce da 5’9 and Phonte are the few that come to mind. Basically all of the top tier lyricists.

Have you ever released an album/or intend to?

Not yet but very soon so stay tuned. Right now I’m just releasing singles.

watch this space!

I know you’ve done a few collaborations with other music artists. It’s a great way to get into the industry.

I’ve collaborated with one of the dopest females rappers out of Cali by the name of MaCita on a remix of my song “Sorry, I Don’t Know You” and I’ve collaborated with my boy out of Memphis Capo Montana and my guy from New Orleans, King Studio Best.

Who do you believe would buy/listen to your music?

I believe my music has widespread appeal. So I think I’ll connect with all races, ages, genders and everyone around the world of different cultures. I’ve actually had my music streamed in 16 countries. So I truly believe that.

That’s cool. I too truly believe that music transcends language. It is the one common unifier and music brings people together.

What newspapers, magazines, tv shows, trade papers, or blogs have you been featured in?

I have been featured in The Word is Bond, EAR MILK which is two of my favourite blogs and I hope to be featured in a lot more.

Why should people care about you and your music(it’s a cutthroat industry to get in to)?

I feel like I give my story and life experiences in music but also provide comic relief with my punchlines. Or sometimes I’ll have my moments of doing both.

Yeah, I do appreciate being humoured when I listen to hip hop. It’s a great skill to have especially when you are rapping about serious issues.

What genres of music do you like to perform in?

Primarily rap & hip-hop but I’m for sure down to collab with musicians of other genres.

I think it’s vital to our creative growth to push ourselves out of our comfort zones in music or whatever we do

One track that comes to mind that demonstrates your versatility as an artist is Fuck Mozart ‘track. It demonstrates (to me) you aren’t afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of your usual style of music while still retaining the essence of who Dee Wallz -the artist is. Your strength is in your flawless vocals. You have a distinctive sound.

Do you write your own music?

Of course, I consider myself a lyricist so I feel like that’s a must.

What do you do in your free time?

I’m a be honest music is my life (lol ), if I’m not doing it .I’m thinking about doing it or how I further my status in music.

What are your other hobbies though?

I would say the gym and video games. Those two are great stress relievers, and it helps just give me a restart before I pick up the pen and pad again.

True, it’s important to have other interests. Its a tough industry to be in and looking after your physical and mental health is vital to staying focused. Yeah, I can see how committed you are and how hard you train using different voice technique reflected in the tracks I’ve listened to

What are you trying to do in the industry?

I’m trying to make the biggest impact I can while being me and making the music I genuinely want to make.

What do you want to be known for/known as?

One of the greatest

😀 baht of course. A G.O.A.T. Indeed.
Make the best of Life. Make it count.

What do you hope to get out of your involvement in the music industry?

To create a lasting legacy and hopefully influence the general(?)in a positive way

 

What is your favourite quote?

It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. I feel like I’m currently at 9,999

*A quote from the author of ‘how to achieve mastery in whatever a person does in life, by Malcolm Gladwell. It is a classic perfectionist quote. in my humble opinion.

What quote/sentence would you say best describes you and your music?

Introspective, Catchy and Witty

What kind of music do you listen to?

I know everyone says this but- all kinds (lol )but primarily hip-hop if I’m being honest…

What are your 3 favourite songs ?

  1. 1.J. Cole-Simba

  2. Lil Wayne- I’m Me
  3. Nas- It Aint Hard To Tell

How does music affect your mood?

It can literally change my mood in an instant. That’s why if I’m feeling down I like to listen to something from my childhood to lift my spirit.

Nothing wrong with indulging in a moment of nostalgia. Music has a way of putting me in a different mindstate.

What is your perspective on the current state of the industry?

I love it, we’re in a state of independence and self-empowerment. I also feel like there is a balance musically.

I agree that music artists have more opportunities to self promote on different music platforms and access to information on the internet has made it easier for some ways to get your music out to the public.

What do you think will help the industry survive/what do you think the industry needs in order to thrive?

I think just embrace artist genuinely wanting to be themselves and not change them and jus accentuate what talent they already have.

Yeah, I agree that we should work hard to stay true to ourselves as well as being inspired or influenced by different artists/sources.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m just dropping songs at a steady pace and perfecting my craft more and more as I go so stay tuned…….. (quoted in 2018)

This track is interesting too

What inspired it?

It wasn’t anything too deep. I just wanted something more upbeat and fun (lol). I like to try new things with my creativity.

Thank you, for taking the time to do a feature. You have been so cool, helpful and it’s been a pleasure collaborating with you.

Dee Wallz’ last released track was this classical hip hop , his with lyrics full of passion and a still waters deep soul soundscape .

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