Listening to new music that, “can’t be defined by conventional music genres” can often be a taxing chore– like brushing your teeth after a night of binge drinking. The music feels foreign and you’re stimulated by so many elements that you can’t even figure out if you’re enjoying this listening experience. Although duo Glass Ghost combines diverse genres together, their music feels interesting and provocative on the first listen allowing you to immediately dissect and delve deeper into their sound.
Glass Ghost backs lead singer Eliot Krimsky‘s dynamic falsetto with rich and big sounds inspired by hip hop, R&B, electronic, and swelling rock. Most would assume the juxtaposed fragile voice and rich music would compete with (or detract from) one another but in Glass Ghost’s case, the sound surprisingly becomes even bigger– each complementing and completing the other.
Glass Ghost will be playing the FREEWilliamsburg Northside Festival showcase at Brooklyn Bowl this Sunday, June 27th along with The Babies, Oh Land, Hooray for Earth and Keepaway! Click here for more details and check out the interview with Glass Ghost drummer Mike Johnson below!
FREEWilliamsburg: Your songs are packed with so many different variables– a dynamic and expansive falsetto, elements of hip hop and R&B, and a variety of electronic and percussive instruments– it’s nearly impossible for an outside listener to synthesize. How would you describe your music?
Mike Johnson: Well, when it’s working well, I feel like there’s a nice absence of fear in our music. And we’ve played together so much that we don’t have to worry too much about the more fundamental aspects of how our music are working and we can kind of play around a little. I heard someone describe a J Dilla jam as, “The Cosby Slop.” I guess I’m interested creating a kind of slop, probably not a Cosby slop though. We take the songs pretty seriously though too. We really try to respect each song and kind of let it be it’s own world. And we try to figure out where it comes from and what it’s about.
FW: You describe your music as a kind of unabashed sound that still is taken seriously. What musical parts resonate the longest with you? Is there one aspect (i.e. musicianship, energy, lyrics) that you take the most serious?
MJ: Well yeah I guess we take things pretty seriously sometimes. we generally practice a lot. I practice the drums obsessively. and we practice together a lot– though we’ve both been taking it kind of easy lately after our cram session before recording the basic tracks for our new album a few weeks ago. It’s pretty hard not to take something really serious when you spend mountains of time on it.
The lyrics are pretty important for us too. [Eliot Krimsky] writes them and it seems like he really cares about it a lot. And I take them seriously too in that I know that I could never play in a band whose lyrics I didn’t really really like.
FW: If you could create the ideal setting for a person to listen to your music, where would it be?
MJ: I guess a place that would be strange to a person, somewhere where they don’t feel quite comfortable. For me that might be at like a career fair or something. It would vary from person to person I guess.
FW: Would you rather be song writing or recording? Why?
MJ: I guess I’d rather be recording. Lately recording has just been really fun. The song writing process for us is more like hard work– a lot of serious talk and trying to establish the basic forms and figuring out what the song is… Kind of like settling on the song’s skeleton. and then when we record it it feels more like we’re just playing around.
FW: What is your favorite song to play live?
MJ: We have a new song called, “Triangle” that we’ve only played once live. We made a lot of mistakes that one time, whole sections with entirely wrong chords, etc. But I’m really excited about that one and feel like if we can get good at playing it live it will be really moving. Eliot wrote really beautiful words on that one. It’s about housing foreclosures and a man who’s house is being taken away and an angel comes to visit him and is standing on the stove.
FW: Glass Ghosts’ debut LP Idol Omen received positive attention from many bloggers who praised it because of it’s mature approach to blending contrasting elements. What direction are you taking your new album in?
MJ: Well, I guess since the last album it feels like we’ve gone in a bunch of different directions. for me, I’ve become really interested in the “bounce” beats of dirty south rap groups. I’ve also listened to a lot of techno and a lot of Houston style rap like DJ Screw and Fat Pat. And I know that Eliot has gone through a lot of changes too and has written a bunch of beautiful stuff that comes from a really wide variety of emotion and experience. But now that we’ve really started working on the new recording, it doesn’t feel like there’s a new direction really; it’s more of the same process of trying to figure out how to be ourselves and how to record good sounding stuff.