Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Find The Ghost! Together we discussed ghosts, their creative process, rotten spaces, whats next, and so much more!
1.Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
I’m doing great, and grateful to be here! I’m writing this on my birthday and have just been treated to some chocolate cake, so I’m feeling really good right now. Let’s go!
2. Mustard wonders when you first began hunting for ghosts?
I’d say this whole thing started around 2018, that’s when the name first appeared. I’ve always had a fascination with ghosts and other spooky things, and it felt right to have them at the centre of the music I make.
3.Additionally, which ghost are you looking for? What is your relationship with ghosts?
Alright, so I’m always worried I sound like I’m insane when I go off about this, but I legitimately believe that everyone has ghosts that they carry with them. Not in the Casper or Haunted Mansion sense, but there are people you’ve known, conversations you’ve had, things you’ve felt, that stick with you forever. They hover around you like ghosts and a lot of times we find ourselves chasing after them. Like if we could just contact what we see as beyond our understanding, everything would make sense.
I’ve definitely found myself looking for ghosts of the past, and I feel like it’s a nice conceptual starting point to draw from when writing songs. That’s where the concept kinda comes from.
4. Are you an ally of ghosts? What is your plan once you find the ghost?
I grew up around a lot of people who believe in actual ghosts, so I’ve always approached the topic with a “If you don’t piss spirits off, they’ll leave you alone”. So, I guess by those measurements I’m an ally to the paranormal.
Regarding finding the ghost, I don’t know what would happen if anyone fully understood all the things they carry with them. I’m not sure we can.
5. How would you rank the Ghostbusters films?
Alright, now we’re talking. Original, then Afterlife and 2016 were about the same. I’ve never seen two.
6. King Boo: Yay or Nay?
I prefer King Boom Boo from Sonic Adventure 2, but you work with what you’re given.
7. Ghosts questions out of the way, what was your relationship with music growing up?
I didn’t actively get into music until I was about 11 or 12. Before then it was background noise mostly, I only really listened to Queen’s Greatest Hits, the Gorillaz debut album and the Sonic game soundtracks. As I hit my teens, I really fell into 2000s rock; Linkin Park, Green Day, Fall Out Boy.
I also really got into Nerdcore, with artists like The Amazing BrandO inspiring me to pick up a microphone and make my own terrible, terrible “nerd IP” based raps. From there I transitioned into more of a rock sound like those 2000s artists.
8. Before starting Find The Ghost you were the frontman for the band Smokin’ Rings. Could you share more about your experience with Smokin’ Rings?
Smokin’ Rings was my high school band. We started around 2011 but from 2013 it became serious; touring, recording albums in a real studio, filming music videos. We got thrown in at the deep end for our age and it was a fantastic yet really stressful experience. I learned so much about music, people, myself, and the world in general with that band.
I wouldn’t change a second of it, but in retrospect I do wish we’d been eased into the serious music world a bit. Towards the end, the pressure of consistently exceeding our and others’ expectations tore that band apart, for me at least.
We’re all still very close friends, though. And we still work together on music, just in a much less stressful environment.
9. It was during the pandemic you began to work demos for Find The Ghost. How did the pandemic help you creatively?
I’d already intended to start Find The Ghost before the pandemic started. I had a music video and a set of singles prepared and was ready to throw myself into another serious project like Smokin’ Rings.
But the pandemic gave me time to consider what I actually wanted to do creatively and personally, as well as time to further work on new songs and videos. I realised that I needed something calmer than Smokin’ Rings expectations wise, and artistically I wanted to try out different sounds that we’d never considered within the band.
The lack of inertia could also be paralysing, however. Being alone figuratively in a writing sense as well as literally stuck in my home changed the way I approached playing and writing, as well as how much of myself I wanted to put out into the world.
10.Additionally, what is your creative process? How has it evolved?
It used to be much more freeform, I’d still be writing things on the day of mastering the track; be that instruments, or sounds, or even lyrics! I’ve become a lot more structured in recent years. I don’t skip demos anymore, I come up with a lot of a song and force myself to stick to those sounds and ideas. It makes finishing tracks a lot easier.
I also shamelessly recycle ideas a lot. I have a lot of songs from many years ago that no one has heard except me, and I love finding new homes or meanings for a lot of those tracks. On this new album, for example, I’d say almost half the tracklist comes from revisiting older ideas. Only this time I’ve shared them with other people while rewriting them, which has helped me find a lot of new points of view and possibilities within those same songs.
11. Gorillaz, My Chemical Romance, and Kesha are some of your inspirations. How do each inspire you? What song of each do you recommend all humans listen to?
I feel like all three of them are artists that have strived to never make the same song twice. I find with some bands, you get so many albums in, and you think “That’s it, I’ve heard everything this person is ever going to say – now they’re just repackaging it”. But all three of these artists consistently surprise me. Just recently Kesha, as an example, dropped her lead single off her next album and it’s wild. It’s nothing like what she’s done before while totally being her, and that’s so exciting as a listener!
From her, I’d have to recommend Cowboy Blues. It’s this sweet little song about regretting not following up with someone after meeting them (ghosts, again, see?), and it’s beautiful. You show it to people, and they say, “that’s the Tik Tok girl?” Yes!
It’s maybe a bit of an obvious choice, but for Gorillaz I have to recommend Feel Good Inc. I think it’s one of the greatest songs of the 2000s. Every choice is wild and perfect, the bassline is amazing, the hook is gorgeous, the rap is so energetic. I don’t have words, it’s just perfect.
For MCR, I think their full potential is shown in Mama. It’s written from the point of view of a soldier writing home to his mother and starts as this almost jokey dance number. The chorus is great, but it’s really the tempo change that takes it to the next level as the song descends into this hellscape of sound. I was lucky enough to see MCR live last year in the UK and when that bridge kicks in, it really bleeds into you.
And then to top it all off, it ends with Liza Minelli leading a chorus of the damned as it changes into ¾ time, wailing into the darkness. I mean, what else can I say? It’s a true epic of a song.
12. 2020 saw the release of your single “Vampires.” Which vampire inspired this single?
So, Vampires is about a weird alternate version of myself that I worried people would see me as. I’d had some bad personal experiences and had convinced myself that I was the problem in every relationship I’d ever had. So a character formed of a horrible parasitic person who leeches off everyone they know. But also, Dracula.
13. What does Christmas on Mars look like? Do you have a favorite Christmas activity?
We shot a video for Christmas On Mars back in 2020. I got a lot of my friends to contribute from home, while my partner and I filmed a fight scene – between myself and another version of myself wearing a horse mask – in the middle of a wasteland. The video isn’t publicly available right now, but I assume it would look something like this;
Christmas in my family’s house is all about board games, Albert Finney’s Scrooge and me forcing everyone to watch the Doctor Who special of that year.
14. 2021 saw the release of your EP “Don’t Fall Asleep.” What was it like to put this EP together? Why is it important that humans do not fall asleep?
That EP was super fun! We played 2 of the three songs at our first show in 2021 and they’ve sort of lived in this little bubble in my mind since then. They’re fun jams about figuring out what I wanted to do in this new project as well as commenting on how the pandemic affected sharing music with people.
The title track told a story around the idea that falling asleep could send you into some other dimension where the lines between our world and the afterlife would blur, which would be extremely dangerous for us humans.
15. “Rotten Spaces” is your most recent release. What was the inspiration behind this single?
Rotten Spaces is a super old song I wrote back in, I want to say, 2014. The demo sounded like absolute ass, I’d always wanted to revisit it and do it properly.
Lyrically it’s about the idea of sending messages in bottles and how that captures a very specific moment in time, with everything you felt in that moment still being raw; and comparing that to songwriting. The fun thing is that in revisiting the song, it became exactly that – a time capsule from 2014 brought to life in 2022!
16. What can humans do to improve a rotten space?
Without getting too deep here, I think the most important thing anyone can do is talk to other humans. About everything and anything, we need to share our thoughts and dreams and worries with other people and listen to them when they share theirs with us. It’s either that or sit around alone looking for ghosts…
17. What is next for Find The Ghost?
Throughout 2023 I’m going to be dropping singles from my first full length album, “Tears Before Bedtime”. It’s an apocalyptic pop record and, in my opinion, some of the most exciting work I’ve ever done. There are some featured artists on there that are absolutely mind-blowing to have on one of my songs (eagle eyed readers will have seen one of them mentioned above! No, it’s not Kesha). I can’t wait to see people’s reactions; I think the full album is something really special.
Other than that, I have a massive side project I’ve been working on since about 2021. There’s a whole production of song-writing, international collaboration, even animation going on – but it’s still a bit too early to reveal that just yet…
18. Where can readers listen to your music?
All my singles, as released, are on Spotify if you search for Find The Ghost. I also have a Bandcamp where you can find what I call “The Complete Experience”. There’s more detailed information on each track, as well as bonus tracks, exclusive artwork, remixes, and demos. All for free!
I’d like to thank Mustard for this great opportunity to talk nonsense about ghosts for a bit, I hope you all enjoy the music and have a fantastic day. Stay safe!