Ghostgirl has just released “Clouds,” a gothic, synth-soaked ballad that channels Massive Attack and Siouxsie and The Banshees. Inspired by living in Reykjavík last year, she wanted to capture the enormity of the landscape and the energy within the silence in “Clouds.”
The creative homecoming she experienced when visiting Iceland for the first time almost seemed destined. “I used to wake up and think that I was there,” she explains. “I’d been having dreams of walking through Reykjavík even though I’d never been there. I had this really emotional need to go there, and it was incredible. I’ve never felt more at home in my whole life. I’m pretty sure elves live there, there’s something about the vastness and the landscape. There’s a different sound in the silence. I wrote a lot of music there and made a lot of beautiful friends. It’s interesting as well, to be in a place where you’re completely foreign but you feel so much at home.”
Always an idiosyncratic talent, and having grown up in a musical family, Ghostgirl had first rebelled against boring art at the age of 10. “One of my first performances was in primary school,” she recalls. “I did a song about an East Timor girl my age who was going through war and everyone just stood there and nobody clapped. It was acapella, and they just weren’t up for it. I also followed it up with interpretive dance and they didn’t like that either.”
Though interpretive dance hasn’t featured strongly in her recent creative output, being candid and unmoved about pleasing others have fortunately remained her strong points. She has worked in events, production and multimedia work, so stepping into the spotlight has taken some adjustment. “I used to run lots of underground art events around Sydney and in Iceland, too,” she explains. “Around late 2010, I started to really get more comfortable with being front and centre.”
Her moniker comes from those early events, where she’d often close sets with the Ghostbusters soundtrack at the end of the night. “I’ve had it for so long, I don’t even know if I like it,” she admits. “For me, Ghostgirl is my persona as an artist – it’s nice to have a vessel. It’s like being a superhero.”
Promotion via national youth radio network Triple J Unearthed has provided her with a broader audience and given her some validation, too.
“A friend of mine let me know that my track had been featured,” she says. “I’m doing a science degree at university and I was really caught up in lectures and focusing on study, so I hadn’t even realised I’d been featured on Unearthed. Any praise is something to be super grateful for, because so many artists I know aren’t recognised for their talent.”
When she’s not attending to her science degree lectures and writing for her forthcoming album (to be released in 2021), Ghostgirl keeps her connection to Iceland alive through long-distance collaborations. “One of my best friends, Rex Pistols – a Canadian who lives in Reykjavík – is about to release her own album and I’m going to remix one of the tracks,” says Ghostgirl. “She’s going to be doing remixes of my tracks too. I’m so lucky to have so many beautiful women friends.”
Ghostgirl is currently living in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. This picturesque regional area is well known for attracting artists and creative types. “It’s so nice,” affirms Ghostgirl. “I feel lucky. It’s so beautiful. I was born here and I moved to Sydney when I was super young, did all my weird stuff, and then I returned here after I’d been in Iceland. You can’t get distracted by random activities when you live here. There’s so much silence and this beautiful nature. I know so many incredible artists up here. The silence amplifies your own work and enables you to get work done as a creative person.”
That silence has only intensified as lockdown wears on. “With lockdown, it’s interesting because I’m checking in with friends in Iceland, Berlin and Melbourne,” says Ghostgirl. “It’s made me consider how creativity is a gift and when we have to sit with ourselves, we’re lucky because creativity is a way to be free when you’re physically trapped. We can imagine our way out of anything.”
“Clouds” came from a time of reflection, and ideas that had been collecting over years. “Sometimes, I write things and pick them up and put them down. A lot of interesting things happened while I was working on ‘Clouds,'” she says. “I was singing the strings part while my friend, Piers Burbrook de Vere, was actually playing it. He’s an amazing musician. The song was an amazing revelation, a Zen moment. It’s funny with songs, they just tell you when they need to leave the nest and eventually you have to let them go.”
Part of letting go was handing her song over to mastering engineer, Dennis Blackham. The UK maverick has worked with Depeche Mode, Human League, The Cocteau Twins, Led Zeppelin. “He’s such a cool guy,” enthuses Ghostgirl. “He’s this humble, gentle guy who is so good to work with. One of my friends in HTRK had recommended him years ago so we’d been in contact for a while. He mastered Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ out there in his countryside home.”
Blackham will be her chosen engineer for the full-length album she is currently working on. “I’m narrowing down the songs right now and about to release a single in November. The album is planned for early next year,” she details. “It’s an intentional theme. I have synaesthesia and I meditate a lot, so it’s really interesting what comes out of those experiences. I want it to be filled with philosophical, positive messages. The world I see when I’m on my synthesiser is pretty Blade Runner-esque. That’s the world that I can envision. It’s an apocalyptic time at the moment and I want to envision a future where our human consciousness comes into a peaceful place. There’s always going to be conflict, but I want this album to be hopeful.”
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