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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

 

  •  

  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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