(Photo Credit - Kevin Condon)
Today we have an interview with independent artist Illicit Ghost! She currently writes, plays, and produces all of her own music! Check out what she had to say in our chat!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I have been playing violin since I was three years old. From there I learned piano, guitar and clarinet. I played in band and orchestra growing up, I despised it because I didn’t like having to play someone else’s songs. On the way to orchestra and band rehearsals I would listen to Z100 in the car. I dreamed of one day being a musical artist and writing my own songs. One day at home I decided to try writing a song on piano. I figured out how to record myself on my PC and began having “recording” sessions in my bedroom. I didn’t want anyone to bother me so I would literally hang a hand-written sign that said “recording do not enter” on my door." 2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Sometimes I just sit at the piano and write but other times I experiment with synth sounds in Ableton. Certain sounds make me feel inspired and so the melody and lyrics quickly follow. Other times I start with lyrics. For instance, the lyrics for a song I worked on for another artist came to me driving home to Brooklyn after dinner in the city. It was totally random, unfortunately I can’t really say much about the song yet because it releases in September, but when it does I’ll be sure to share the whole story!" 3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette and David Bowie."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I have a ZVEX distortion pedal that I use for my electric violin that I love. My friend who is an audio engineer recommended the brand to me years ago and I’ve been using it ever since for live shows. For recording, I use a UA Arrow, Arturia MIDI KeyLab, Audio Technica headphones, play Yamaha electric violins and use a Diamond SX Codabow." 5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"The vibe in the audience is pretty chill, but I tend to go a little bit wild especially if I’m doing a violin solo or performing a song that is a little more aggressive like “Parties by Myself.” I love walking through audience while I’m singing. I’m usually a pretty reserved person in real life but something shifts when I get on stage and a lot of my fears melt away."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"I want them to know that it’s personal. My lyrics are usually written in the middle of the night when the city is quiet and you can finally hear yourself think. They are the things that I’m too shy to say out loud in conversation; they are my diary entries. My lyrics are my outlet for my frustration, happiness, sadness, loneliness, anger, lightness, everything. The sounds used in my music are all deeply personal as well, when I start a song, I only choose sounds that make me feel something." 7. You write, play, and produce all your own music. Can you share what unique perspective this brings for you as an artist?
"It gives me the ability to do whatever I want. I’m an independent artist. There aren’t any suits telling me what to write and how to sing it. I have complete freedom and it feels good even though it’s a struggle. I’ve been really lucky to collaborate on my music with Elliot Jacobson, he has been an amazing mentor to me for years now, has been a co-producer on many of my songs and has taught me a lot about production."
8. What’s next for you?
"I have a new song coming out on July 30 called “Help.” It’s my most personal song to date. It’s about my frustration with myself. I struggle with so much anxiety that interferes with my life. Sometimes I wish I could be someone else, someone carefree, that’s how the song was born. I also want the song to bring awareness to the importance of talking openly about mental health. I want people to know that it’s OK to ask for help if you need it."
"I also write music for other artists. I have a song that I wrote in Spanish called “Si Soy Fuego” that was released on July 16 for the artist Paul Kalkbrenner. I’m really excited about this one because it’s a song I collaborated on with some of my good friends Elliot Jacobson and artist Vania, who is the incredible vocalist on the track. I can’t wait for listeners to hear it because it’s unlike anything I’ve done. There’s a story behind this one. My manager (Elliot) when I first met him encouraged me to write toplines (if you don’t know what this is, it’s basically just lyrics & melodies) that could be pitched out to other artists. So I did it for four years, some songs got some interest but none actually ever made it to the finish line. I got so discouraged – but his support kept me going. I actually wrote “Si Soy Fuego” when I was at my lowest point. I wrote it as a secret power anthem to myself as a reminder to keep going and to keep chasing my dream. Surprisingly to me, the song got picked up. I love how the track turned out – Paul Kalkbrenner did a remarkable job with it. I hope it gives listeners the confidence to keep pushing forward and to keep chasing their goals."