This past week, EPIC had the opportunity to catch Holy Ghost! in Boston. After watching the duo perform, we asked them a few questions in regards to their signature sound, music video production and more. Read further and jump into the minds of Nick and Alex of Holy Ghost!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: I love your sound! It seems very much rooted in another decade. Did you start making music with a specific sound in mind or was that just a byproduct of your collaboration?
NICK MILLHISER of Holy Ghost!: Thanks! Nothing super specific, but coming from years of making hip hop I think we had a vague idea of wanting to make music that was less for the head, and more for the body for a change. As far as the "time" of the sound, it wasn't a specific attempt to sound old or "retro" but more of a vague attempt to emulate some of the sounds from records we enjoy as listeners and finding new—and hopefully interesting—ways to put them together. A lot of those records, however, are old.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You are well known for your amazing videos! How do you brainstorm ideas for those? And how much of the filming/creative process are you involved with there?
It usually just comes from shooting the shit between the two of us and our friend and director Ben Fries. We are pretty involved in the conception and, at times, the execution because our budgets are so limited that the process usually necessitates all hands on deck to a certain extent. Ben and our cinematographer, Jesse Cain, usually do the heavy lifting but we do what we can. The limitations we have are also hugely influential in the ideas we have. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, the lack of money we are dealing with has a huge impact on the idea. That forces us to be creative and can instigate an idea we wouldn't have come up with had there been more money. Other times it keeps us from doing things we and Ben know could make it better..
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How do you go about finding and selecting music for your DJ sets? Your Boiler Room set, for example, has some really unique and funky sounds. What’s your music discovery process in general?
Nothing special really; listening to and paying attention to other DJs we like, what friends are listening to. We both actually still go record shipping a lot and sometimes it's a cover that grabs you, or a name you recognize in the credits from another record, the label, a guy who works at the store...anything. I have found new music from YouTube recommendations.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: A huge part of DJing is gauging the mood and energy level of a room. Has DJing for so long affected the way you interact with a crowd when you’re performing as a band?
For sure. Generally speaking our live sets are pretty short - maybe an hour and half TOPS - which is really short for a DJ set but something we've done a lot of. When you're DJing for such a short window you don't really have time for a long narrative arc or peaks and valleys, you’re just trying to maintain a pretty high energy for the duration of the set. So when we play live I think we are actually overly sensitive about "losing" people. Like if the energy dips for one song we freak out like "what are we doing wrong?!?!" when in actuality I think having little breaks is an important part of live shows. I enjoy it as a concertgoer and having peaks and valleys actually makes the peaks easier and more dramatic. So, yes. Influential in a good way, but perhaps more than I would like.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You two have known each other for so long, how does that affect the creation process?
Well I never have to guess what Alex is thinking and I’m sure the opposite is true. I think we both know pretty instantly when the other is excited or not about any given idea which saves us from dealing with the passive aggression that can plague creative partnerships. Likewise there's a language we have which makes communicating easier and has to be learned or built when you're working with someone new. Adjectives and descriptors mean different things to different people so having your own language is an important part of any collaboration. When Alex says something is "hot" or "tough" or "saccharine" or "dark" or "big" I know exactly what he means. It sounds simple but it's not.
AUTHOR CREDIT: ALEXANDRA BLAIR PHOTO CREDIT: BRAD BAHNER