|manipulating the shadows
Allison Levin - October 10, 2011
Don't let Ghost Ghost fool you. While
yes, they are friendly spirits, they have seen things. Dark things.
Perhaps that is still why they walk the earth, playing shows in New
York City until they attain whatever it is they are looking for and are
at peace. Or maybe they're just some musicians, a painter, and a video
artist. (Their live show incorporates both video projections and live
painting.) But personally I think it's the first one. Ghost Ghost's
most recent release, No Clothes on Ragged Island, is a concept album
about the life of poet Edna
St. Vincent MIllay, recorded in one day, the soothing guitar
work and earnestly sweet vocals belie the ominous lyrics. Tragedy and
heartbreak lurk around every corner, and, it seems to Ghost Ghost, the
best thing to do is keep a shaking smile on their lips as they tread
out into the unknown darkness.
How are inter-band arguments resolved? [Note from allison:
they caught me, I totally used the wrong prefix!]
Usually we egg the other band's house, put sugar in the gas tank, the
usual. If you mean intra-band arguments, we found that
singing Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby" on a megaphone usually
ends all arguments.
Where do you imagine yourself when you play your music?
Kevin probably pictures himself in Wallace Stevens' attic in
Hartford. Karl probably imagines himself in the Bellevue
emergency room with some sort of head injury.
"Bizarre Love Triangle", and really all of No Clothes on
Ragged Island is based off scenes from the life of Edna St. Vincent
Millay. How did she inspire you? What prompted you to make that concept
We were at an all-you-can-drink bloody mary brunch when we decided to
write an album in a single day. In order to make it happen,
we felt we had to pick a subject we both knew well. I had
been on a Millay bender, and just a month prior I had lent my copy of
the Millay biography to Kevin, so her life was fresh in our
minds. The album title came to us first--"No Clothes on
Ragged Island" was a rule Millay enforced on her guests when visiting
her island home. Everything just flowed from that
title. A day later the songwriting was done and within a week
the whole thing was recorded.
You incorporate a painter and an experimental video artist
into your live shows. Pardon the blunt question, but why? As a side
question, was this a decision made when the band was first formed, or
We want people to see the music and the visuals actually being
created--not just someone onstage hitting the play button on the
sequencer or playing some arbitrary video loop, however neat that might
be. The transient nature of music and performance is central
to what we do, we believe that music and performance should affect you
both in the moment and long after.
Kevin wanted to bring in visual art from the beginning, and Charlie
joined us on the paints pretty early, it just felt natural. A
few months later, Tim Bartlett came to one of our shows and we
recruited him to do live video and projection, which worked even better
because a painter with integrated live video projection is kind of
amazing, like amazing with four syllables.
Because of the visual elements of your music, do you think
that listeners who don't see you live are missing a crucial aspect of
Someone recently said that our shows are a good place to get hit with a
guitar, so there's that. But what's most important to us is
that we get the songs across, and everything we do onstage is part of
that. We want people to see a forest fire when we play, and
we want people to know that we're building these songs right in front
of them, with live audio loops and live video manipulation.
What is next for Ghost Ghost?
This fall we're going to play a lot of shows in Texas, which is our
home away from home. Aside from that, more recording, more
shows. We get offered so many shows in this city, we have to
turn some down at this point. I'm fond of saying that we live
in the greatest city in the world at the height of civilization, and
that's still what New York feels like, despite its obvious expense and
" Stunning onstage visuals by painter Charlie Kemmerer and projectionist Tim Bartlett. Break-away pants by Versace. "
"No Clothes on Ragged Island,"
Intellectual folksy indie pop with visual accompaniment.