Ghost Culture: back to the Eighties

(© Nastasia Alberti)

The electro scene has a new face. We mean that literally, because until recently, very little was known about Ghost Culture. Last year, a number of singles gave us a glimpse into the artist’s divided world. The recently completed debut album confirms the dual nature of his work. On Friday, he will perform at Libertine Supersport beside the guy who discovered him, Erol Alkan.

For those of you who have not already resorted to Google, studio technician James Greenwood is actually the man behind the whole thing. James who? Greenwood is the producer of albums by artists like Daniel Avery – another of those names that makes electro lovers’ mouths water. It was Avery who sent Ghost Culture’s first demos to Erol Alkan, who also runs his own record label.

“I didn’t even know Daniel had sent them to him. If he had asked me first, there are a lot of things I would have changed, or I wouldn’t have dared to let him hear them,” Greenwood tells us. Most people associate Erol Alkan with electro, but Ghost Culture’s music sounds more like that of a singer-songwriter who has been locked up in a room with old synthesizers. “My songs are inspired by the period in which I often went to clubs in London. That sound stuck with me. But I generally listen to calmer indie or rock music. I wanted to combine those two worlds: harder sounds with a mellow voice. But it isn’t a techno album. I would describe it as pop music.”
The most striking thing about his songs is the 1970s and 1980s atmosphere that infuses them. That vibe comes to the fore spontaneously due to the old synthesisers and other equipment. You would expect a studio technician to use every possible function of modern software programmes. Greenwood: “I was actually more inclined to impose limitations on the recordings. Using only one synthesiser, a sequencer, and an effects pedal I was able to accomplish a lot without needing a computer. And very little was added during the editing at the end.”

This year, Ghost Culture will also perform as a live artist with less of a focus on dancing. His DJ sets do exactly the opposite. “What I do as a DJ is more closely related to the B sides of the first three singles I released.” The sound of his debut album shows similarities to dark and rather minimalistic electro sounds, but the focus of his singles is clearly more on the dance floor.

While many young people hope to have a DJ career, it actually happened to Greenwood. “Deejaying is actually relatively new to me. I had no experience whatsoever and was suddenly asked to play warm-up sets for Erol Alkan. That was a useful way to get my name out among promoters who might book me for a live session later. But I love it, though I admit that it is quite schizophrenic that I’m now playing beside the man I used to go and watch.”

Libertine Supersport: Ghost Culture (+ Erol Alkan, Mickey, Marquis Hawkes, Kong) 16/1, 22.45, €8/13, BLOODY LOUIS, Louizalaan 32 avenue Louise, Elsene/Ixelles, www.libertinesupersport.be

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