Interview: Warm Ghost
Warm Ghost, Paul Duncan and Oliver Chapoy’s Brooklyn-based multimedia project turned full band, is playing Johnny Brenda’s tonight in Philadelphia, PA with Asobi Seksu and Cults. Known for their fusion of 80′s synth pop and modern electronics, Warm Ghost’s songs are beautifully complex and layered. TSI recently spoke with Duncan about his passion for visual art, Warm Ghost’s songwriting process, and what he never goes on tour without:
TSI: How has the Brooklyn music scene influenced you artistically and in terms of reaching out to fans? Is it easier or harder to get noticed in a place with such a thriving musical community?
Paul : Hmm, that’s actually a slightly tough question. I know the scene that’s thriving here right now influences us, but it’s like in the middle of happening and going strong, so it’s tough to decipher exactly how it moves our output. Oliver and i both listen to a lot of the same stuff and especially local stuff. Laurel Halo, Light Asylum, Games, etc – all that stuff we’re in love with, so i’m sure it sways our waters. As far as getting noticed, I’m not sure we fully have yet. haha. We’re still so young as a band. So, not sure how to answer that either. I know we get the privilege of playing on bills with rad music. Things are just really popping here right now and it’s a lovely feeling.
TSI: How does your live show influence your songwriting/recording process? Does playing a song live effect the way in which it is recorded for an album, or are the songs recorded and released before they’re ever played in front of an audience?
Paul : The way we play live and in the studio when we’re practicing or playing around with palettes and sounds has really started to influence the way we write. It’s one reason i wanted this project to be a collab / band and one reason why I am really excited about the LP we are writing right now. It’s developing this organic presence that the older stuff didn’t have or had in a different way for me. And, yep, we’ve started trying out new songs live before they are fully studio-developed, which is a great and scary thing. I like the challenge and the idea of giving a song a longer life, road time, more time to grow and develop, etc. rather than just writing and recording and then repeating that live. That’s not nearly as fun or interesting to me.
TSI: On your website, you state that Warm Ghost started as, “a band and multi-media duo.” There’s also a nice collection of Paul’s drawings, and links to a really interesting video. Can you talk about the different roles that those associated with the project play, and how the visual components of Warm Ghost interact with the music that the band releases?
Paul : I’ve always wanted to have visual elements intertwined with what we do. I think about everything i do musically in such a visual way – it just seems inextricable. Right now we are working with Boston-based video artist, Steven Grisé. He’s doing projections for us tonight in Philly actually and we’ve been discussing collaborating on a music video with him. I watch so much film as well that it’s a huge part of how i write lyrics and arrangement / pacing…
TSI: While on tour, I noticed that you not only play band shows, but DJ sets as well. How are the two experiences different, and how do you prepare for these different types of sets?
Paul : We haven’t do a ton of DJ sets yet, but we are always making mixes and remixing old songs, etc, which is one thing we’ve incorporated when we do DJ. We definitely want to do more and have been talking to other bands and DJ’s we like about doing nights here in Brooklyn. It’d be rad to be able to do DJ sets on the road as well for parties to make a little extra road money.
TSI: What’s one thing that you would never go on tour without?
Paul : Stereolab and How Stuff Works on my iPod.