North Carolina born, Johnathan Wyatt, came under my radar under one of his alias names- Fin. His music is a diverse mix of instrumental hip-hop. Jonathan has released house music under the alias, Kaepora Gaebor. He has also released Vapour wave beats under the Alias, Fiji, and prompted me to find him on Instagram.
There were two other reasons I decided I want to find out more about him and his work. Two things about Jonathan stand out.
His collaboration on the track ‘Obsession Depression’ with his close friend, Skyler Nelson, (PKSkyler) a rapper based in San Diago, California on ambient Agape Records vol 1 album for U.K. based label Agape records -all proceeds went to MIND (mental health) Charity.
His dedication and maturity for his passion to create music in the past 5 years are astounding. Fin is 17 years old. He has released 3 albums, 6 EP’S and several demos and his next album –Näherin due to drop on 6th November 2020.
‘Tower’ is taken from his latest album.
When I asked Jonathan to what words came to mind when on MENTAL HEALTH & CREATIVITY) (CREATIVITY his answers were -Process, Inspiration, Expression. Frustration, Anxiety and Depression.
ON DEPRESSION OBSESSION
For Depression Obsession, the song I produced for PKSkyler on
(AGAPE Volume 1), Skyler just messaged me one day asking if I was interested in making a track for a charity compilation. We didn’t have a theme to start with, other than that it was mostly ambient music on the compilation and the person who started it was doing it as a tribute to a friend of theirs who had overdosed a few months prior. The song came together really quickly since we had a deadline to submit.
It was great to be a part of a project that feels so personal, with so many talented musicians as well. I’ve dealt with anxiety since a pretty young age, and have had some issues with depression over the past couple of years, so the links between mental health and creativity are very important to me.
I started with a sample from a song by one of my favourite bands, Azeda Booth. I laid some drums and bass down and had the rough bones of the beat. I sent a snippet of this to PK, and we both figured it should go in a more ambient direction, to fit with the other songs on the compilation. That’s when I thought of the concept of the track having two halves, with the first half being a normal rap structure for his verse and hook, and the second half being entirely beatless and ambient. I put some airy vocal chops from a Frou Frou song, some details, and the droney ambient section for the outro. I sent the instrumental to PK, he liked it, laid his vocals down, sent them back to mix, and the song was done.
FIN ON FIN
I make a lot of different kinds of music, but the sound that’s compelling to me is anything sample-based. I’ll usually buy cheap records from thrift shops and record stores, skim through them, and try to combine as many elements as I can into a cohesive piece. I do play a handful of instruments and write original music, but sampling is something I’m really, really passionate about. I think it deserves a lot of credit not just as a compositional tool, but as an art form all its own. It’s almost post-modern in a way, with the constant recontextualization of recognizable material.
When I was young, maybe around 7 or 8, I was obsessed with Micheal Jackson. I don’t even remember how I got interested in him, lol. I listened to his music religiously, had all the costumes, took a few dance classes, everything. This was before I ever considered playing an instrument, it was probably a big part of me getting deep into music later in life.
I started playing the guitar when I was 11, and about a year later I got obsessed with the idea of writing and recording my music. I got really into the idea of not needing a band or recording studio and doing everything myself. I started taking piano lessons, got a cheap bass, and took over my sister’s drumkit. I made about 3 albums worth of really crappy indie rock before getting interested in electronic music. I messed around with drum & bass, synthwave, and chiptune sounds before I got into sampling and beat-making. This was also around the time I met a few rappers and my friend Skyler (PKSkyler) on Facebook. I was super into the then growing vaporwave and cloud rap scene and was making loads of beats in that style. Those beats ended up on PKSkyler’s first album,Life of Skyler ). I would’ve been around 13 years old at this time.
Probably around age 14 is when I got into buying and sampling records. I was taking drum lessons, and it turned out my teacher was a huge hip-hop head and producer. He really pushed me towards where I’m at musically now. He’d bring stacks of records for me to sample, let me borrow his SP-404 sampler for a few months, and was a massive influence on my album Berkeley.
I’m 17 now, and ever since then I’ve been constantly working on and releasing new music. Over the past 2 years, I’ve released 3 albums, 6 EPs, and 4 beat tapes.
For the stuff I make as Fin, it was lo-fi artists like Mndsgn, Knxwledge, and of course Dilla. About halfway through the production of my first album, Berkeley, I heard DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, and that changed my path. I was obsessed with the idea of making structured songs out of samples, instead of short beats. Even when I didn’t have the skill or knowledge to pull it off, I’d try to work in shifting structures and distinct sections in my tracks, for better or for worse.
I always try to have a theme to each big project I do, whether it’s just a palette of sounds that the tracks share, or something more focused. My EP, Substance for the Shadow was based around the idea of making something influenced by soundtracks, post-rock, and krautrock, and writing everything from scratch without sampling.
For the beats I was making for PKSkyler as Fiji, it was a lot of cloud rap and vaporwave, like Yung Lean and Blank Banshee. I was also sampling a lot of soundtracks, mostly old JRPGs and Earthbound.
ON INFLUENCES, THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
(In my hometown) the music scene basically non-existent, lol.
It’s a rural area with a pretty small population. It’s not far from Raleigh, which is a pretty big city with plenty of local bands, musicians, and venues, but obviously, I haven’t been able to go to any shows for the better part of this year. I try not to let that stop me, though, I’ve never really collaborated with anyone in person anyway, never been in a band either. I’m very much used to collaborating online, sending stuff back and forth through email, etc.
I’ve met some of my best friends through the internet, and there are so many niche artists and scenes that would’ve never found an audience through the internet. Things like vaporwave netlabels, obscure lo-fi hip hop releases, and the culture surrounding Bandcamp could’ve never existed 20 years ago.
On the other hand, there’s so much music being released right now, it can be hard to break through and find an audience. If there’s a genre you like and want to hear more of, there are hundreds of albums being released online every day in that style. It’s a blessing and a curse.
As far as finding success in music right now, it goes back to what I said before about breaking through the sheer amount of music being made right now. I’ve seen the lengths musicians go to gain listeners, it’s kinda sad.
I’m not the biggest fan of the things a lot of artists are doing right to be seen, like gaming the Spotify algorithms, hiring ad agencies to make songs go viral, etc. It doesn’t feel very genuine. Either way, commercial success isn’t really what I’m looking for in music, that’s never been my goal.
ON LATEST ALBUM AND UPCOMING PROJECTS
I have some songs I’m working on right now is a bit more of a downtempo and electronic-tinged direction. Still sample-based hip hop, but more atmospheric, with a big focus on texture and lo-fi sounds. I also produced and mixed a bunch of the songs on PKSkyler’s newest mixtape, which should be out very soon.
My new album Näherin is out now on my Bandcamp. It’s a 13 track instrumental hip-hop album touching on some elements of trip-hop, boom-bap, and downtempo. It’ll be on Spotify and Apple Music within the next week or two. I’ve also got cassettes that I did in a bootleg-y DIY style. I hand recorded each tape and printed the labels and J-cards myself, instead of going through a duplication service. I also produced 10 of the 16 tracks on PKSkyler’s newest album Lost in Darkness, which came out in April.
Thank you for listening.
Never give up!
Nina sang it well: it’s a new dawn, a new day….
When you look at yourself straight on in the mirror – chant his name three times.
The Grim Reaper is more likely to pay a visit and say ‘wassup?
Thinking about all those folk who want to live. Don’t have a cat’s chance or a lucky clover to pray over.
Last night, life became mission impossible. If you read it – I’m free flowing this to say
Don’t give up.
Don’t give in.
When it feels like you are at the end of Hangman’s noose about to kick the bucket from under your feet
that’s the moment we’ve the opportunity to reveal our true soul’s pathos.
Don’t you think the cloaked hooded figure has a lot of soul collecting to get on with?
I’m not saying that what we feel at the time is an illusion.
I pointing out -change is the only constant
That can lead to desperate ,devastating confusion.
Inside – I’m trembling worrying , wondering. What am I gonna do? Can I do this?
Question after question more questions fogging up my third eye- it’s enough to make any mind spin.
Stop. Hammer time.
Warped sense of humour.
Enough to keep all the rattling bones and bolts inside me cast a glow over my demeanour.
Look around. You see a flower wilt or bloom inspite of his brethren humming out sad tunes.
That’s Life continuing in spite of all that strife.
One Seed.Of.Hope. Get through this second,hour, this evening.
Take the seed, germinate it, nurture it, feed it, love it , talk to it.
Take the time – make it thine.
Watch it grow into a mighty oak – proud and on display.
Seems impossible to define.
Plant it. Don’t throw it away.
Keep a hold of it. It may be the one thing that carries you over the struggle D-day line.
On the surface – flowers, trees, icebergs – all look fantastical – magical even.
Look below the surface. There is a formula – you can build on that too –
No magic. No miracles.
Approach thyself with an examining eye.
Make it your number one priority to get to know what makes you tick.
If heart’s Hope stops make it your priority to know where to go to get a battery replacement. Get it resuscitated.
Know what makes you well
Reach out to that alien.
Get out of that comfort zone.
Scream ,yell, type, don’t bottle it up .
We have the technology – make a call -pick the phone up.
We have a voice – use it. Listen..
Sweet melodic freedom – we’re the only ones with the unlock and escape from our own self made prison key.
Never give up.
Life gets difficult
Life gets complicated.
There is more to this space than a one-dimensional prism.
I know it’s scary – to feel caught up in that schism.
Pieces of the mind caving in -thoughts toppling over like being a Chilean miner being held hostage underground.
Two months of no light . A sorrowful plight.
It’s dark but you are still breathing. You may be the only one but time is not about to start giving in.
Chin up. Keep looking for a strategy.
An exit route.
Use that sombre time to recollect . Hell, soak up the dramaturgy.
We come into this world kicking, screaming, wondering, possibly even believing. We mustn’t give up unless time says ‘okay enough’.
So, I say go the way you came in . If it is not our time – fight with every muscle. All the nerve you can summon up.
Truth or dare?
I have truth spilling out of my aura like pennies falling into the slot machine- the one in working order.
Dare to have. slip on your shades if you have to – things might just get a little brighter.
You might levitate – feel lithe even a little lighter.
Don’t be afraid to succeed.
Don’t afraid to be happy.
You don’t need to go to the dentist to get your two front teeth divided so you can look like some Go Lucky Gappy.
Photo credit Francesca Woodman – White Socks, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
And their current album
Ghostown performed extensively yet sporadically mostly in France, playing at alternative festivals with the likes of
- Balkan Beat Box
- Chinese Man
- Brain Damage
- Beat Assailant
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.
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.