The Black Ghosts Haunt Your Soul

Monday, 17 December 2007

Remember when Kanye West flipped a shit at the MTV Europe Video Awards for losing out to the Simian vs. Justice video for that catchy “We Are Your Friends” song? Well the band of Simian is no more, but the vocalist, Simon Lord, has teamed up with Theo Keating of The Wiseguys to bring us some new music to dance to with The Black Ghosts.

The Black Ghosts currently have their four-song EP out titled Any Way You Choose to Give It with a clever video by the same name featuring a band of robots rocking out (see below).They plan to release a full-length album sometime next year, but in the mean time, Ground Control caught up with Simon Lord for an interview about the creative energy behind The Black Ghosts.

Ground Control: You are formerly from the band Simian, which then turned into Simian Mobile Disco, and now you have emerged with The Black Ghosts. Can you explain that evolution?

Simon Lord: Simian was a guitar-based band and we would make remixes as Simian Mobile Disco which was the electronic, dancey side of things. When we stopped the band, James [James Ellis Ford] and JAS [James Anthony Shaw] continued DJing under Simian Mobile Disco and they eventually released an album under that name. As for me, there was a gap of about a year where I got into more songwriting, singing and guitar playing. I didn't do much electronic music for a while. Around that time was when the Justice remix of “We Are Your Friends” got really big. Actually, a French record label decided to have a remix competition and the Justice one was an entry. That was probably about five years before it got really popular. So that song was big at a time when I wasn't even involved in dance music. The Black Ghosts started when Theo approached me about doing vocals on some tracks. It really worked so we decided to make this an actual project. We originally started making music on the Internet: he would email bits of beats and I would sing on them. We did that for a while and actually only met in person after we had recorded most of the album.

GC: Can you introduce The Black Ghosts to our readers? How would you describe your sound and vibe?

SL: It's combination of me as a songwriter and Theo as a DJ. The thing about the album is that it covers a lot of different styles of music. We're not just electro or just hip-hop. We have some electro-dancefloor songs, a disco-sounding song, and others have a west coast-soul vibe. Basically, we wanted to write pop songs that sounded cool and had ideas to them because quite often dance songs have really brainless lyrics. Some of the dance artists I have collaborated with have said that they just want the simplest possible lyrics so it doesn't get in the way of the music for some reason. I wanted to write more weird, interesting lyrics on top of dance songs because I don't think that's something that's done that much. All the lyrics do have kind of a dark edge to them, but that's just me really.

GC: How does that combination of dark lyrics and getting people to dance work out for you?

SL: (laughs) Well, it's not like the lyrics are depressing. They're not totally black and Gothic and like Marilyn Manson, just hating on everything. They are a mix of the positive and negative. I think there are too many love songs about relationships that just show one side and don't do the other bit. I like ones that do both because in my experience that's realistic.

GC: Who came up with the concept for the “Any Way You Choose to Give It” video?

SL: We met these two directors and talked it out. Me and Theo are into sci-fi films, so when they were like, “We want to put you in a space station building a robot band,” we we're like, “That sounds amazing!” A lot of it came from them. We were amazed that they could build a set with these robots. We didn't have a lot of money so it was cool that they were so devoted to pulling it off. Some of the robots were real, like actually electronic. Other ones would have strings attached to them with people pulling them. The big robot playing the guitar and synthesizer…that was six people pulling bits of string. (laughs)

GC: What has influenced your music?

SL: I grew up listening to dance and rave music. My dad used to make synthesizers so I've always had those around. When me and my sister were little kids we would play around with them to see who could make the weirdest sounds. I started singing and songwriting with Simian and moved more towards that, so currently, that's my part: I write the lyrics and sing. Theo, he comes from a DJ background so since he has all the influence and experience from there he does most of the beats. We stick to our strengths. As for other music we listen to bits of 60s psych and analog synth, old Italian disco records, early house records… Right now though, I would say we have a heavy soul influence, especially in the singing.

More on The Black Ghosts here:

Anyway You Choose to Give It is out now on 12-inch, 7-inch and download.

The Black Ghosts – "Anyway You Choose To Give It"

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