FYIG Chats With Electro/Synthwave Artist Ghostfeeder

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Tell us a little bit about yourself
 
My name is Derek, and I make electro-rock/synthwave music as Ghostfeeder.
 
How did you first get into music?
 
When I was a kid I would listen to video game music. I’d either pause the game or find a way to allow it to idle and I would record the music on a tape recorder so I could listen to it whenever I wanted. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-teens when I got into Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead and Tool that I had any interest at all in actually making music or playing any instruments. I started a band playing guitar in high school, started another one in college, and then started Ghostfeeder on my own after the usual frustrations of finding like minds to collaborate with became roadblocks. I decided that instead of starting a rock band, I’d figure out a way to make music on my own.

How would you describe your musical style?
 
I would describe it as a fusion of synthwave, darkwave, and alt-rock. I like to take the warm, vintage elements of those genres, but insert them into a more interesting songwriting style. A lot of electronic music is the same song over and over. A lot of it is written in a straight line with no dynamics, no journey for the listener. I take rock/pop songwriting structure, which I find to be a lot more fun, but build it out of pieces of those other genres.

How have you evolved since your previous album, “World Fameless”?
 
World Fameless was written while I was on the road and feeling that energy of playing in front of people every night. I wanted to try to write a bunch of songs that were high energy and fun to play live. With Star Beast, I wrote it almost completely in the studio. I had a lot of time to think about song structure, textures, and atmosphere. In the time between the two records I also spent a ton of time on tour experiencing other musicians, DJ sets, etc., and absorbing a bit of that along the way I’m sure. This is also the first record I’ve done where I had any degree of guidance. I was really excited to work with Amir Derakh this time around. I was such a big Orgy fan as a kid, it was a real trip to become friends with him on the road and his input and talent was instrumental.

What can audiences expect from your latest album, “Star Beast”?
 
Older fans can definitely expect an evolution. Over the past year I have done a thorough re-branding of the project to more align with a cohesive aesthetic and feel. I think that Star Beast is, at least right now, the definitive Ghostfeeder album. It has all the elements I wanted it to have. Video games, horror movie soundtracks… it’s all come together this time around. I hope that it’s a record that people can throw some nice headphones on and enjoy from start to finish, although I think that’s a pretty pie-in-the-sky idea to have in regard to how people currently consume music.
 
You crowdfunded “Star Beast” on IndieGoGo. How instrumental was that to get this album off the ground?
 
It definitely helped! Seeing so much support on the front end really encouraged me to try to make the best album I could. If people are pre-paying for something, you better deliver. I learned a lot from the experience and, if crowdfunding is still a thing when the next release rolls around, I might revisit the concept.

You’ve recently released a new single called, “Veins”. What can you tell us about this song?
 

 
Veins was chosen as the first single because I feel that it really encompasses all the properties of the album and condenses them into one track. It has an aggressive but atmospheric intro, moody verses, a cool chorus hook, and a nice retro-sounding bridge. It’s kind of a sampler of Star Beast as a whole. If there’s even one part of Veins that you enjoy, there’s at least one song on the album that fully embraces and builds on it, so give it a listen!
You use video game consoles/controllers during your shows. What prompted you to add that to your sound?
 
My history with video game music in general. I just love the old hardware, and I love to see people when they realize I’m using it to make music in front of them. It’s nostalgic and magical for me to hold a Game Boy or an N64 controller, something that gave me so much joy as a kid, and repurpose that same tactile feel to do something else that I love. The chiptune scene is still a very niche thing, so while the music that I play isn’t pure chip in any sense, I’m still glad to be using elements of that culture in a more mainstream setting and venue. It’s not the main event of the show or the music, but it’s a deeply permeated feature of my sound and vibe.
 
What types of video games were you into growing up?
 
Until I was in college and became financially independent, I always had whatever was out and within reason. My parents were never ones to prevent me from playing video games or limit my time as I grew up way outside of town on a big, wooded property where I experienced a pretty excellent balance of video games and outdoor exploration. I was never a fanboy of any particular brand. I grew up with the NES, but of course also moved on to the SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, PlayStation and PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, the various Game Boy iterations, etc. I even have a soft spot for the Virtual Boy, which was so weird and stupid that I just had to love it. As an adult, I’ve always been sure to focus on Nintendo’s consoles and games. I like gaming to be imaginative escapism. I can turn on the TV at any time during the day and see a bunch of guys in camouflage shooting guns in brown, war-torn cities. I’ll take the Mushroom Kingdom over that any time. A lot of Nintendo’s business decisions seem like two steps forward and three steps back when it comes to their slow, cumbersome entry into online play and other contemporary gaming standards, but they have such a warm, nostalgic place in my heart that I can’t help but enjoy even their missteps.

Do you have any tour dates coming up?
 
Maybe! Tours can be funny things. One that you’re booked for might be coming up in six months with a ton of time to prepare. The next might come together in a few weeks and you’re in a van before you’re even packed. Either scenario also has a tendency to fall through depending on unexpected conflicts or events. It’s always a balancing act until you’re out there actually playing, and even then things can get dicey. I am slotted for a short tour in early June, but I’m still waiting on confirmation and details, so you’ll just have to stay tuned!

What’s the experience like at one of your live shows?
 
I can’t speak definitively for the audience, of course, but I can say that we take our live shows very seriously and try our best to provide the highest level of experience that we can. Nothing turns me off more than seeing a band walk on looking like they just got out of bed unenthusiastically play their music on a stage that’s bathed in a single, static lighting scheme. If you don’t look like you care, the audience won’t either. People have a million options about what they decide to do with their time, and most don’t have a lot of money to work with. Combine that knowledge with the fact that it’s just so much work and stress to be on tour, and I show up really wanting to make the audience AND myself happy. I think that people who go to see live music are so burnt out by bands and artists that do the bare minimum that they’re surprised by an artist that has their act together and puts craftsmanship into their show. We try to engage the crowd, provide our own full production, and really make a full effort to turn heads. On tour, you’re always subject to every new venue’s quirks and every new sound engineers talents or shortcomings, so we really try to overcome those obstacles by creating a simple but powerful and consistent show. We’ve had our disasters, of course, but overall I think we have a really powerful, consistent live show. We’re also always at the merch booth as soon as we get our gear safe and situated. We love to connect with people on a personal level, and in my opinion, it goes a long way to be accessible to fans. People remember that stuff, and so do we.

What advice would you have for aspiring musicians?
 
Take advantage of whatever opportunity you can. Be persistent. Almost everything good that’s ever come my way, I’ve partly achieved by just asking. Ask to play shows. Ask to tour. If you really WANT to make things happen, it’ll show because you’ll always be making moves that are scary and uncomfortable. The most terrifying decisions are usually the right ones. That’s something that I still struggle with, as I tend to be pretty socially introverted. I’ve really had to work to go against my nature to put myself out there in important ways. Just be ready to back all that up with good craftsmanship and ethics, and never forget those who have helped you. Show up to work, but never assume that just putting on a show is going to ever take the place of being professional, gracious, courteous, and easy to work with. Word about your behavior, whether good or bad, will always spread faster than your music will.

What is your life like outside of music?
 
Really hard to complain about. I have the most supportive wife one can imagine and we live in relative peace aside from having two spoiled, demanding parrots to wrangle daily.

Let the readers know where to find you online.
 
You can find Ghostfeeder all over social media. @Ghostfeeder on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Also, please follow Ghostfeeder on Spotify, and if you enjoy what you hear, share, share, share!