Black Ghosts are former ‘Wiseguy’ Dj Touche (Theo Keating) and ex-Simian vocalist Simon Lord. Together creating mean and moody ‘electronic soul’.
Ahead of their debut album proper they have a mixtape available (out March 17th) showcasing their ‘refixing’ skills. Check out a free remix/mashup they’ve made available at the bottom of the page but first we clogged up their inbox with some questions, here’s what they had to say about their new project.
Q – How did you come together?
THEO: I was intending on writing an album as Touché, and really wated to collaborate with Simon on a couple of tracks, being a Simian fan. A mutual friend put us in touch with each other. The initial couple of tracks happened really quickly and easily, so we just kept writing – to the point wher one day we decided that this needed to be it’s own thing. So we became The Black Ghosts.
Q – Do you have a shared vision or opposites attract?
THEO: Well when we started we had both been moving in fairly different worlds. But we realised that we had a lot of influences in common. And as we’ve gone along we have introduced each other to all sorts of music, which is the ideal way it should be. It would be pointless to combine with someone who had all the exact points of reference as yourself. You first find common ground and then learn from each other.
Q – What influences the choice of tracks on the mixtape?
SIMON: It features some of our favourite tracks that we play in our DJ set’s, some new stuff that’s exciting us and some of our own remixes and productions. So listening to it will give you an idea of what our live shows are like and also a taste of the sound of the album.
Q – What are the 3 golden rules of a good mixtape?
THEO: Well everyone’s rules are probably different. Having always done mixtapes on decks rather than with the pause button, I’d say:
1) Don’t be afraid to cut songs short if they lose steam. Get the next one on. Keep it moving.
2) Fill the tape! Don’t have one side with loads of silence at the end which you have to fast forward through to change over. And if there is a minute left – find a one minute song!
3) Have nice handwriting. Do a nice cover. It doesn’t stop at the recording.
Q – Given the amount of work (‘refixing’) you put into the mixtape, do you feel any claim to ownership?
THEO: Blimey. No – altering tracks by editing them and adding elements is all part of the process. A mixtape or set needs to be idiosynchratic – it’s meant to be as much “you” as the tracks you select. In that way you can claim “ownership” of the mix as a whole – the way you stitched it all togetherthat is unique to your own style and tastes – but not to the individual tracks themselves.
Q – What can we expect from the album proper?
THEO: It’s a mixture of syles, musically. There are more club-friendly tracks, as well as slower, darker songs. I guess my production has it’s common threads and features, but he thing that really ties it all together as an album is Simon’s voice and songwriting. At it’s root it is a pop album, but with a twist.
Q – You’ve said you didn’t meet properly until the album was half done? How did that change (to being in the same room togther) affect the material?
THEO: It made it easier. It meant that our roles were clear right from the start – there was no sitting in a studio spending hours obsessing over details or second-guessing each other’s input. In that way we were able to establish the sound and direction of the album without any confusion.
SIMON: Yeah, even after we met up and decided to make the Black Ghosts we still worked on things independantly. We never felt the need to be in the same studio together, we weren’t exactly going to sit around smoking dope and jamming out ideas… though that could be a direction for the next record… get the acid-jazz-fusion out!
Q – Simon, how precious are you of your vocals once they’re recorded and ‘handed over’ to Theo?
SIMON: The Black Ghosts works because we handle our own sides of the music and don’t have to meddle with each others contributions, maybe in a year when we’re bloated and cocaine addled we can come to blows over ‘creative differences’ but i think that collaborations work best with trust in each others skills.
Q – Your live show is a mix of live playing, deejaying and remixing. How do you feel about a ridiculously bold statement like – ‘that format is the future of music’?
SIMON: It’s a ridiculous statement and awful sensationalism… ha ha… I mean I think it’s a laugh to do and makes DJing more exciting for the likes of me… it opens things up and let’s us play what we want. The whole break-down of the dance vs rock mentality has been really healthy for both sides, but i still think there’s room for the purists…. about once a month i like to rock out with my bearded friends, guitars, drums, whisky, no fucking ableton allowed!
Q – Your videos have attracted a lot of attention for the band, how involved are you in the ideas/concepts?
THEO: Well the intial ideas always come form the directors. We look for directors who have great concepts that sound like they’d be fun to do. We chip in ideas as the process goes along, but both the Diamond Dogs, and Ben & Jos had so much of it worked out, and had put in so much effort, that the ideas were pretty much fully-formed before we even started filming.
SIMON: We also base the choice of videos on fulfilling childhood fantasies, so far we have been making robots on a space-ship and been characters in a dystopian Lego city… some ninja action might be fun for the next one.
Now, having whetted your appetite, we present Black Ghosts – ‘Something New (Galactic Version)’