I’ve been following Chaka’s musical adventures since the ‘90s when I first heard his hardcore band, Burn, and later punk band, Orange 9mm. I recently discovered he started a new project called, Ghost Decibels, which finds him creating solo with synths, guitar and drum machine—which is super exciting! Ghost Decibels’ first release – 5 Song EP – on cassette + digital came out last Monday, get a copy here. It was such a pleasure speaking with Chaka, one of my favourite conversations I’ve had in a while…
CHAKA MALIK: I saw a photo of you with synths and stuff; you’re pretty into music and making your own too?
BIANCA: Absolutely! Music has been one of the biggest constants in my life. I’ve had a few bands over the years since I was a teen and now I’ve been working on putting something new together and working on my own thing. Being in a band and trying to organise everyone and have everyone on the same page at the same time can be hard. I like just being able to sit in the home studio and experiment with all different kinds of sounds and trying all kinds of things. I get really into the process part of creation, that’s where it’s at for me. I love all different kinds of music too, so it’s nice to draw from those different genres to make something new… that’s part of why I really love hip hop, the sampling of things from other places to make it new. I like things when they’re forming, when things are beginning and everything is fresh is very appealing to me. In the early stages of something, for example the punk or hardcore scene, people seek things out, they build things, there’s no blueprint so you forge your own path, there are no rules… eventually things get more popular and then people just ape what’s come before and what’s worked before without necessarily adding to it and making it their own. Copying something is boring to me. I like the artists that are truly unique, that don’t fit into boxes, that have their own style… that’s why I enjoy what you’re doing with Ghost Decibels.
CM: I appreciate that. I’ve been aware of that with the Ghost Decibels thing. If you’re putting out something new, people aren’t expecting it of you… I hope people feel it. I’m glad you feel it. I feel it, I think it’s dope! You also have to balance the fact that it can be something new for people who are used to what you’ve previously done. I think Ghost Decibels is its own thing. I do think a genre will form, not because of what I’m doing but because there are people like you, and others that come from such a diverse musical background that are feeling, for lack of a better word, empowered to do their own thing.
B: In an interview with you from way back, ‘99, you said something like “Music needs to heal people; that’s why I’ve always listened”. Can you remember the first time that you felt music healed you?
CM: It’s crazy because it makes me want to go out and get a good pair of headphones, I have a pair for mixing but not just listening to music. Jimi Hendrix was probably one of the most complicated people out there, one of the most misunderstood people, and probably one of the most taken advantage of artists out there… I remember listening to, Axis Bold As Love, with the headphones on looking at the gatefold… I didn’t really like being a kid, even today people will ask me: what do you do for fun? I’m like, I don’t really have fun. That record took me to a place where it was my own fun. It wasn’t happy like people get when they play games or something but more in the sense, I was enjoying myself in my own way. With that album I was able to put the headphones on and get taken away and healed… healing implies that something happened and you need to go from one experience to another. If you are well then there’s maybe not a reason for healing, you’d probably stay in the same place metaphysically or spiritually, if you get hurt or sick or a virus or cut, you have to transcend that pain and the disruption or the dis-ease that might be presenting itself; you have to go to another place to get back to your balance. That album did that for me, it took me out of my situation of being a kid, of not liking being a kid, it helped me feel more cool with where my headspace was at and what I was vibrating.
B: It seems like to me that you actually do have fun, your idea of fun may be different to what others consider fun. I can resonate because for me my work, my creating things, is my idea of a party.
B: For me the enjoyment mostly is in the process and the creation of whatever it is I’m doing. Like with making music, I love being totally engaged and just sitting there experimenting with sound… in all honesty for the most part, it doesn’t even matter to me if people hear what I’ve made. I just love sitting there and exploring everything my synths can do.
CM: You know what’s really interesting?
CM: I need to do more of that, so I can get a better grasp on some of the instruments that I have. Similar to you, I like to explore things in a tactile way, to just dive right in and press stuff until I come up with something that I like. Stuff like, oh I like that chord progression or that kick drum sound. I need to do more RTFM-ing [pauses] …which is an acronym for ‘read the fucking manual’ [laughs]. Have you ever heard of that before?
B: No I haven’t [laughs].
CM: I don’t curse a lot because I think it dumbs down your vocabulary, that’s why I paused for a moment, I was debating whether or not I was going to curse. I think as far as trying to explain the sentiment you have to curse so it comes across. It’s like how many times do you find yourself not using the deeper layers of something because you haven’t read the manual?
B: I pretty much never read the manual. With all the instruments I play, I’m totally self-taught. I think when you play using instinct, things you create can often be more interesting…
CM: Because you develop a relationship with it.
B: Yes! I think in developing that relationship you can develop your own style/sound more. I’m a big believer in self-learning, self-knowledge and also questioning lots of stuff, including yourself.
CM: That’s really the only way to learn. It can be a drag in some ways, like constantly questioning myself… similar to you in the, why am I thinking this way thing. There’s something that’s call the Trivium, which is an ancient way of knowledge. Are you familiar with the term?
CM: Ok, so that… understanding discernment is a big part of that. It’s not something I go back to on a daily basis but it’s something that ties into what we’re speaking too—grammar, logic, rhetoric. …grammar, discovering and ordering facts of reality comprises basic systematic knowledge. Then logic, developing the faculty of reason and establishing valid relationships amongst facts with the basic systematic understanding, which is the questioning part, right?
CM: Obviously rhetoric applying knowledge when it’s expressive, comprises wisdom. Its cliché and punk rock to say, question everything or ‘F’ authority which is a similar kind of thing to questioning stuff, but if you don’t question stuff you’re eating up someone else’s rhetoric. I know that for myself, with whatever I’m doing whether it’s making music, marketing (which is my day job), I’ve got to keep asking myself stuff like, is this the best way? Does that make sense? Is that the best way to handle the situation? Did that have the effect I wanted? It can drive me mad in one sense or it can really drive me to results. You know what I mean?
B: Absolutely. I spend time by myself too, I think that’s very important. So often people are constantly plugged into stuff. For a lot of people when they wake up one of the first things they do is reach for their phone and hop on social media, by doing that and scrolling through feeds and photos etc. I think what happens is that the first thoughts of your day is filled with or connected to another person’s thoughts not your own.
CM: That’s an incredible point that you make there.
CM: It’s a really incredible point because, kind of going back to what we were talking about with scenes, I got into hardcore… I didn’t do it because I was tethered to a group of friends that liked the music and I kind of wasn’t impassioned by it but it was a great way for me to be social—I got into it because I loved it! I would travel down to CBGB’s by myself, a lone kid that didn’t really look like many of the other kids there but I got a chance to know and meet a lot of great people. I was drawn to things that I was passionate about that would make me more passionate.
I was talking to one of my friends the other day and we were talking about men and women as a species and how men are naturally known as being the strong one but in the wild things are a bit different, in the sense that the male lion is the king of the jungle but the female, if you get near her cubs she’s more fierce than the male. It shows that you can be empowered to go beyond what your natural role might be. It’s not some feminist thing either, that’s not what I’m on about right now. Being passionate about hardcore emboldened me to want to share creativity and end up in bands. If I was tagging along for the ride because my friends were into hardcore and I wasn’t impassioned by it and passionate about it I wouldn’t have decided to be in bands. Your passion can plug you into another whole level of manifestation and power.
B: Totally! When I first came to punk and hardcore I didn’t know a single person either. I was so passionate about it all that I had to participate myself, it wasn’t just enough to be a fan.
CM: Nice! That to me is really what it’s about.
B: I like that in punk and hardcore anyone can give it a go.
CM: For lack of a better term, DIY (even though it’s so overblown as a term these days) is an empowerment, which I think has crossed over into every genre now and every walk of life, even in social media, they have a blog or YouTube channel… a girl might share a makeup tutorial (not that I’m into makeup), the girl likes makeup, she shares her tutorial and the next thing you know she has a sponsorship from Maybelline and earning a living. I was introduced to that avenue of manifestation through hardcore, it’s there in punk rock, hip hop, anything—things are so possible now. There’s readily available tools to create your vision, which is great!
B: Yes. How did you first get into music? I’ve read that your dad used to bring home issues of Interview magazine that you’d check out and I think I saw an interview with your bandmate in Burn Gavin (Van Vlack) saying that your dad was a huge music fan. Did your father have much of an influence on you?
CM: He did. My dad and my mom have a huge record collection between the two of them. I would sit down and put on a good pair of headphones. My dad is always an audiophile to some degree, he always had nice headphones. We grew up in the projects. I’d go through the records and put stuff on, I was lucky that I had that availability of the music and records—it was key to me developing a relationship with music.
B: You got into synths and drum machines since you were a kid, programming hip-hop in your early teens. How did you discover/get into synths/drum machines?
CM: One day my dad was like, let’s go buy a drum machine. He bought me and my sister a Korg DDD-1 drum machine and a Casio CZ-1 synthesiser. We built a rack for it and it was just kind of there in the livingroom out of nowhere. At the time that drum machine was $1000. Looking back at it I feel like I should send my dad a cheque or something [laughs].
B: I find it interesting that’s how you first started expressing yourself through music and now all these years later you’re back doing that again.
CM: You know what is interesting about that as well?
CM: People have a signature sound, there’s stuff that I have written years ago, it doesn’t sound the same but you can tell it’s the same person. You’re right, I love the synthesiser, I love the drum machine; I’m not the worst person at creating music with those two tools. Talking to you is bringing up a lot, I hadn’t really considered a kind of homecoming in a sense. There’s been a lot of things in my life that give me the vibe of kind of being back at square one. Maybe I’m at a jumping off point where you’re encountering people and situations that were key at the beginning of different cycles in your life. Does that make any sense?
B: Sure does. Everything in life works in cycles, ebbs and flows. Life has a rhythm and I think it’s important to be tuned into your own natural rhythm. I think things in life work better when you’re aware and conscious of it and yourself and you can flow with it fluidly rather than try to fight it the whole way.
CM: Yeah. Let me ask you a question. When have you identified a rhythm that you could go into harmony with rather than fight in your life?
B: Hmmm. One of the biggest things for me has been my writing and interview work. I take my work very seriously, it’s how I’ve learnt about the world, people and myself. Ive done it over half my life. Relating it to your question, there’s been times in my life when people close to me thought I should give up my work to get a “real” job, which is just crazy! I’ve known since I was a teen that I wanted to do what I do, rather than go to school I’d play hooky and spend time with bands and interview them.
B: I’ve been doing it 21 years this year. I didn’t study journalism, totally self-taught. My family has always been entrepreneurial, so that kind of thing has been instilled in me from a young age. There have been times in my life where I’ve stopped interviewing and writing, going with what comes naturally to me, and forced myself to work a regular 9-5 job… in doing that though, I feel I went against what’s natural to me and ultimately because of that, I ended up being diagnosed with severe depression and having a really bad time I my life. Eventually when I started to listen to myself again I naturally came back to my writing work and being happier again. I love connecting with people, I love sharing people’s stories and talking about the deeper things in life. I always hope by sharing experiences and ideas that it’ll spark that in the reader’s own life. The more people in the world that are creative and that think creatively the better. I like helping people and I like adding value to the world rather than contributing negativity. Does that answer your question?
CM: Yes it does. I’m really listening to what you’re saying. The question I asked can be taken in a lot of different directions, so of course you make sense. I love listening to other people’s thoughts on being creative. I enjoy Chase Jarvis Live, he interviews creative people, people doing their own thing, entrepreneurial artists. There was a poet, Austin Kleon, on there and he was talking about inspiration, he shared a quote: inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us sit down and get to work. I thought that was interesting because I was listening to an audio book called, The War Of Art…
B: By Steven Pressfield? I’ve read that.
CM: Yes, then you’re familiar with what I’m talking about, how you just sit down and do the work and ignore the enemy. When I started doing that, I had songs all of a sudden, I wasn’t wasting as much time in the day or night. We really rely on each other to remind us to keep on track.
B: Yes. I’ve been working on a few different projects, one of them is interviewing women in the Australian music community. Extracts from the project were featured in an art mag I write for, No Cure. I got emails from people who had checked out the feature and were inspired by it, one woman went out and bought paints and took up painting again, which she’d done when she was younger. She told me reading the interviews reminded her she is creative and made her think about why she even gave up painting. To help empower other people is a powerful thing. It’s important to encourage any form of creativity.
CM: it’s incredibly important…
B: After all we are creations ourselves.
CM: Yeah and we’re designed to be creative as well.
B: The other project I’ve been working on is talking to people in the punk and hardcore community and their thoughts, feelings and experiences with spirituality and creativity.
B: Some of those chats have been the most intense conversations. Let me ask you, what does spirituality mean to you?
CM: What do you mean, what does it mean to me? Help me get closer to where you’re going.
B: Well… how would you define it for yourself? I use the term “spirituality” for lack of better term.
CM: I define spirituality as the closest thing in the physical or the natural world that would be your attitude. Your attitude is the main driver. If you’re in a crap mood, then you’re going to call that friend you commiserate with every time but, if you’re in a great mood, when that person that’s calling you to commiserate, because that’s what you do, when they call you’re probably going to ignore the call. Spirituality is your driver whether you know it or not. Attitude is your driver whether you know it or not, it attracts things to you. It will guide your steps even when you’re not aware that you’re being guided. It’s incredibly important to understand how crucial our relationship to spirituality is, to you being able to really control your destiny, if that’s possible.
B: What’s one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your life?
CM: I think I’m my biggest challenge.
B: How so?
CM: A challenge means that you’re trying to get things done and that there’s something trying to stop that. So, if I’m trying to get things done and I’ve decided that this is something that I want to do for whatever reason and if I’m unable to do it, guess whose fault that is? Mine. I’m my biggest obstacle. Putting it back to that spirituality concept and the attitude concept, recognising that has been helpful. There’s times when I get frustrated; I’ve broken stuff before. For example, there was a girl that I really cared about and she was upset at me for some reason and was like, leave, get out! One of my guitars was in her apartment, I was in the hallway and she kind of shoved it down the hall. I was like, oh you want to throw my guitar?! Only I can throw my guitar! And I started jumping up and down on my guitar case. I ended up trashing my guitar, it was such a wonderful guitar.
CM: Yes. It was all because of my attitude. I lost control of my guiding force and I let my guiding force be empowered by this negative situation that was happening, so now I had a repercussion, the broken guitar as well as making a fool of myself trashing something I really love. At that moment, if I would have just said, ok, I get it, you’re pissed at me or I’m pissed at you, you don’t have to throw my crap; I’m gonna take my guitar and I’ll talk to you later and we’ll figure things out. That would have saved me some money because I would have had a good working guitar. That was the same moment I could have said we’re both buggin’ let me take my guitar and back away from the situation but instead I became an obstacle for myself by breaking that guitar.
When I’m trying to do anything, whether it’s getting exposure for Ghost Decibels or being out there doing my best for Burn or work at my day job, when I have moments where I’m not getting to my goal from my perspective, I acknowledge it’s not working and take a step back and see what I can do on my part; what I can change to get to where I need to go. Rather than, like in the past, blaming someone or something else. I disempower myself and turn myself into a victim when I don’t say, hey you know what dude, what can you change? I am my own greatest obstacle.
B: I very much resonate with that. I think maybe everyone is their own biggest obstacle.
CM: Of course they are but, it just takes a minute to recognise and admit it. Like with this interview, if I was to say, dude, oh it’s your fault Bianca, you’re a pain in the ass, you called five minutes late and I don’t want to do this interview [laughs]. Instead I’m like, it’s good that you called me a few minutes late because I just got off another call and had to take a deep breath and I texted you to see if we were still on. What I’m saying is, it’s all about your perspective and not freaking out at other people and blaming them for something.
One of my friends is from Israel and grew up in a war zone. He calls me ‘Cha’ and says, Cha there’s always going to be a fight, there’s always going to be obstacles. At first I didn’t get it but now I do get it. It’s just life, you have to do your best to work through stuff, it’s not always going to be easy; something’s you’re going to have to work a little harder at. Bottom line is that it is on you and it is on me to make the most of our situations.
B: I’ve held that belief for a long time, when I was born, around three months premature, it was a miracle that I even was. Knowing this from the beginning, I’ve been thankful I am here and try to make the most of everything. I think having an attitude of gratitude is very important…
B: …whether it’s opportunities you have or whatever, be thankful. It’s your job to be prepared for what might come along and even if you’re not it’s great to know that if you miss it, something else may come along.
CM: That’s been a learning curve that I’ve been dealing with lately. It’s not easy to try to push forth in a bunch of different areas, especially when one of them is a side project and you don’t have bandmates to help prop you up and then by the grace of god you have a job, because a lot of people don’t even have one these days… it requires so much patience these days, continued awareness. Like with what you were saying, if something doesn’t go my way, maybe that was a good thing you think of what are the upsides of this not going my way. Just to be aware.
B: Before you started doing Ghost Decibels you took time off from doing music completely…
B: Was there a reason for the break?
CM: I felt like I was off track. I felt like there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to what I was doing. I didn’t really feel like I was contributing anything positive from a spiritual sense, I felt I was lost spiritually. I think really that’s what it boils down to—being lost spiritually.
B: Was this when you were living in London for a bit and the Bay Area?
CM: You know it was but, thinking about it, it was way before then, maybe early 2000s. I slowly started doing stuff, then I took a break again from doing music, maybe 2005. By the time I was in London I really started focusing on acoustic guitar and had another little project I did. I was coming to a place of establishing a new spiritual level where I was able to, not feel good about myself in a sense but, feel connected, connected to the world, in a way that was useful to me again.
B: So you felt you had become disconnected?
CM: Yeah I was, I really was. I think I was struggling for connection. I long for connection, I love connection, it’s what really drives me. I had gotten to the point where I knew so many people that I didn’t know anybody. When I wasn’t in the mix a lot any more, like going out and whatnot, you almost feel like that grain of sand removed from the beach, you’re insignificant and you feel meaningless, there’s nothing else around you that’s vibrating at a similar speed as you and you begin to question yourself—all these things are good. You’re asking yourself some big questions at this point. When I was hanging out a lot and had a ton of friends, you don’t ask yourself those big questions because it doesn’t work in that environment. If you take a step back and ask yourself these big questions, these really metaphysical in some ways existential questions like, why am I here? That can be helpful if you’re looking to find a new water level in your life.
B: I understand what you’re saying because I went through that when I started my punk and spirituality project. One of the biggest realisations I’ve had from working on it is that spirituality is life and like what we were talking about before, that driving, guiding force and that seeking out.
CM: I agree. I think that’s an absolute fact whether people know it or not. It is the layer, the unseen layer that’s driving everything.
B: Often throughout doing the project people have asked me, what are the things that you believe in? I tell that that I believe in love, creativity and connection—that’s what means the most to me.
CM: Yeah and I think love is one of those words that I’m really interested in. It has so much more depth and also simplicity that it had for me a couple of years ago. It’s one of those words that you can keep unpacking for the rest of your life.
B: Was there anything that happened in your life to make you come to that realisation?
CM: I don’t know… it’s interesting because you don’t… hmmm [pauses]
B: I love that you take a moment to think about what you’re saying.
CM: Hopefully that’s something we’ll all do at some point. Often I think love is from the standpoint of ‘I love’, my love. It’s something that I own, it’s like a tool, like hammer and nails, or my shopping cart or wagon that I’m pushing stuff around in. I think that I’m starting to recognise that love is not mine; love is everybody’s, it’s recognising you. It’s recognising Bianca and listening to Bianca; being open to Bianca and embracing what you’re showing; also questioning Bianca and paying attention to Bianca; asking, do I really get what she said? The more you operate in that, love begins to make more sense. This will sound crazy but, it’s almost like a magic carpet that you can get on or not. It’s not always easy, it can be frustrating but it is born of spirit. Love truly, in my mind, means born of spirit. Physical love is wonderful but it’s not the same… as you look at love from the many different tiers or facets, it’s something that would be too painful to me to totally get it. I wouldn’t want to. You think about love in its purest form, it’s jumping in front of a moving train to save somebody, it’s donating your kidney, it’s stepping up in a situation that’s dangerous. It’s not just the desire to own someone as your girlfriend or boyfriend. That willingness to focus your attention is a doorway. I don’t know shit about love though. I almost don’t want to know the extremes of love because I would explode, I don’t mean that in a cheesy sense—love is sacrifice.
Think about it… think about selfies, some of the women are beautiful; I love the selfie, I love each one, the women look wonderful in the selfie but the opposite of that is a ‘not-my-selfie’ I’m gonna take a picture of you, crazy things, wonderful things in nature, a band I like, a group of friends that I have an affinity for—there’s bits of love in all of that. It’s that magic carpet ride thing we were talking about. There’s bits of the carpet ride when you go to a show and see a band you love, it opens you up. Same when you’re having a great chat out with your girlfriends or when you’re there for another person, or if you’re at graduation with your niece and you’ve seen her come up from the bottom, when you’re at that awesome restaurant that you love but only go to once a year because it’s expensive… whatever it is, that little ‘it’s not all about me I’m going to make a sacrifice’ thing, I think that’s where love starts. It’s really hard but it’s also rewarding.
I’ve always known a lot of people, the more people you know or like on social media for instance, the more followers you have the cooler and valuable you are, in many ways you are, right? People want to hear what you have to say. Then there’s the person that has two followers that follow legitimately, I think that person has more love potentially, has more sacrifice, more listening to other people. It’s like, how do you even talk about love? How do you play the board?
B: Are you familiar with the author Manly Palmer Hall?
CM: He’s the master historian of the Masons, he wrote a book called, System of the Ages, or something like that. What about him?
B: Yes that’s the man, the book is called, The Secret Teachings of All Ages. It’s a favourite of mine. I really resonate with his thoughts on love and I think it’s in the spirit of what we’re talking about. He says: Love is an experience of consciousness, an experience in the soul of man. It is some thing that is a great releasing power against the tyranny of personal attitudes. It is placing something bigger than one’s self in the foreground of life. It is dedicating one’s acts to projects, to purposes, to convictions that are of common good to all mankind. Love is not just a single thing. It is not something that is born full-blown from the unknown and the invisible. To have a true understanding of love, the individual must grow. He must not only outgrow selfishness and self-will, but he must also go above and beyond what might be called the pressures of society upon his life. He has to be an individual. He has to live his principles, whether others do or not. Out of the cultivation of those gentle virtues which make possible true love, we are also keeping faith with the great principles of integrity which support our world.”
CM: It’s that magic carpet.
B: Yes. Something I love, is the vocals on the new Ghost Decibels’ 5 Song EP.
CM: Thank you.
B: I love the range you use. It’s some of my favourite stuff from you. I love that you’re releasing it on cassette.
CM: You have a cassette tape deck?
B: Yes, I have several. I have a tape collection too. I love music in all forms. Someone I know from a popular hardcore band recently was having a whinge the other day about how it’s so trendy to release stuff on cassette these days and it’s more a hipster kind of thing.
CM: Oh no, cassettes are dope!
B: My thinking exactly.
CM: Ghost Decibels on cassette sounds amazing.
B: That’s like with records, I love the sound on vinyl. People go on about how that’s trendy and coming back, but for me it never left.
CM: Yeah, that’s awesome.
B: I’m a big collector and documenter. It’s important to have an alternative to what’s in the mainstream media. If people were to look back on things looking at it from the mainstream perspective which is what’s documented and shared most, there’s so many amazing independent things that might have been happening but not covered that get missed, forgotten etc. It’s important to preserve the underground and strive to make these kinds of artists more visible. I have so many demos and jams of amazing bands that never got a proper release and all kinds of interesting recordings, many on cassette.
CM: That’s awesome.
B: I remember reading somewhere that when you went to record your vocal for the first time when you first started out, the producer you were working with told you that you basically suck! When I read that I was like, what?!
CM: [Laughs] Yeah. You just gotta move forward.
B: I’m so glad that you didn’t listen to them, look at all the awesome we would have missed out on.
CM: I appreciate you saying that, because I need that now as I’m working through this new project. Even when people compliment me on it, I still take it as a dis… I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m still working on it [laughs].
B: I’ll forever be working on my craft. When you stop working on it, is when you stagnate. I like the film clip you did for the song, Into The Wild.
CM: Oh thank you.
B: At the beginning of the clip there’s words that are visible that say: I will dare to love you. What is the significance of that?
CM: It’s what we’re talking about. That theme is a really big part of all the Ghost Decibels stuff. It takes some energy to do that. If you go back and look at that Manly P Hall quote, it takes action, it’s not a passive thing—it’s a change of attitude. It takes a willingness. It’s not like I’m going to sit here and feel turned on enough to love you. I’m not saying you have to fight to be in love with somebody either but I’m saying to love someone, I will dare to love, is more saying – it’s a proclamation and it’s tough – I will dare to shut up and try to listen to you. I will dare to reduce myself a little more so I can hear what you’ve got to say. I will dare to lend you insight that will hopefully be beneficial for you. I will dare to accept your insight and if it doesn’t make sense to me I won’t shoot it down. I’ll dare to put myself out there for you. I don’t think you’re alive until you’ve done that.
B: All of that takes awareness and guts.
CM: Yeah and for someone, not just yourself. When you sit down with people you can either shut up a little and try to give them some space to step into your world, or you can be this big personality the whole time… I’m into being a big personality; I don’t think I’m a small personality, but you don’t have to be a big personality all the time. It’s important to give people the space to share what they have, it’s tough. I know I sound like a broken record saying it’s tough over and over, but it is!
B: On your site in your ‘About’ section, you pose a question to the reader: how did you come to love music? I love that. I love that you’ve asked a question and you endeavour to interact with your listeners, it’s not just a one-sided conversation. It got me thinking.
CM: So you actually considered the question in earnest?
B: Sure did. Music has been such a huge part of my life since the beginning. I had a huge musical education coming from a big family with everyone liking different kinds of music, I think that’s part of why my taste is so broad.
CM: That’s what it’s about. I’m glad that this has come up. I’m glad that someone actually read that part of the website [laughs]. From an artist’s perspective I’ve always been the kind of person that does their own thing, I don’t try to follow trends… I don’t really care, actually it’s not that I don’t care but everyone wants to have success. I don’t know. I take the art seriously.
B: It all depends on your definition of success too. Success is subjective. To me, I feel like one of the most successful people, I do what I love on my own terms.
CM: That’s what it’s all about.
B: When I first heard Ghost Decibels I was really stoked because there’s lots of stuff happening in the mix, lots of layers but then it’s also kind of minimal too.
CM: Now I’m confused [laughs] but you know what, you’re right.
B: There’s a lot of depth in it. The guitars have like a ‘70s sounding UK punk vibe and then you can hear a David Bowie-ish vibe too…
CM: I’m glad that you can hear it, those are some influences that are relevant for me. Thank you.
B: What’s on the horizon for Ghost Decibels?
CM: I shot a video in London for a song called, Heaven Sings. I started shooting a video in California for a song called, Speak It Forth (My Love), hopefully it’ll be finished soon. There’s a woman that’s going to come up here to do some modern dance in the video – yes, I’m going there [laughs]! Kind of Grace Jones meets… well, I’m not sure.
B: Grace Jones is enough, you don’t even need any other reference point!
CM: [Laughs] Exactly.
B: I can’t wait to read her memoir!
CM: You know the interesting thing about her is that she is the real deal. A lot of people try so hard to be weird or odd or contrary enough to be charming—she is that. I don’t agree with it all the time, but it’s interesting to see other artists try to be that and you see Grace Jones be like, you’re just so lame and crap and fake and I don’t buy it. I appreciate that in a way.
B: Lastly, I wanted to ask you about an idea that you had I read about in an interview you did once. You were talking about how you used to go record shopping, you said: “We used to go record shopping on the weekends. Go to the stores, east side to west side. We knew the records we wanted. We had an expectation of finding stuff. We had a desire to locate certain records, to find new stuff. There’s that kind of exploration stage where you’re enjoying music for what it is, you’re opening yourself up to it, you begin to appreciate what’s come before the new stuff. I think there’s something to collecting things that can bring you more than just a ton of crap in your basement. I think that when you collect stuff, you pay attention to detail.”
CM: When you’re passionate about something, your awareness is up. A lot of times when kids are in school and they’re meant to be caught up in learning but they’re not so they don’t care… they’re not excited. Since we were excited about those records, looking at the pressing info, the art, our awareness was hyped up and fully on—that’s not something that school teaches you. You know what I mean?
B: Yes I do, that’s why I wasn’t at school as much as I should have been, I was out doing interviews and following my passion and what I was excited about.
CM: And it’s paid off because you’re doing what you love now. You’re impassioned, emboldened, empowered—that’s where it’s at.
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