Spooks in the machine? Ghosting Seasons

Words by: Polly Lavin
Posted: 13/12/11 9:55

Spooks in the machine? Ghosting SeasonsFor those who have been optimistically watching the emergence of electronic bands and producers such as Pantha Du Prince, Capac and WallsGhosting Season” is the new moniker of Leeds musical duo Tom Ragsdale and Gavin Miller. The duo may be more commonly known to heavy rock fans for their past life “WorriedAboutSatan” a moniker which they worked under for 5 years but the duo released an EP “Far End of The Graveyard” that is filled with brooding and euphoric shoe gaze IDM. Electronic music that meddles with rock and the finer principles of acoustic such as strings and guitars.

Having retained elements of the musical sensibilities from which they stemmed they Tom Ragsdale explained need to create a new name for the group “The sound was expanding beyond the identity of worriedaboutsatan. The organic elements of the new project - guitars, voice, and found sound - highlighted the natural growth of the music and we realised we could no longer contain it under the name, worriedaboutsatan. As its new form became more distinct, we called it Ghosting Season.

We grabbed 5 minutes with them to discuss dark song titles, their new EP, moving to Manchester for its scene.

Can you tell me a bit about who you both are, where you are from and what your backgrounds are in music or other creative areas?
We are Tom Ragsdale and Gavin Miller aka Ghosting Season. We make deep atmospheric electronic and our sound is dark, but vibrant and euphoric. We both met in Leeds and had a pretty heavy post rock band.

Back then we were making music under the name worriedaboutsatan (another of our 'bands') 5 years ago and had bits and pieces of kit left over from university projects and office clearout sales. Gavin started making some electronica doodles on his computer and after Tom heard them we decided to take it out live. We come from similar backgrounds musically, playing guitar and listening to post rock and the warp records back catalogue. Artists like Autechre, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Underworld and Trentemoller helped shaped our early sounds. We were interested in seeing what we could do with reverb pedals and techno beats and we decided to start Ghosting Season last May to explore more dance floor orientated sounds.

Far End Of The Graveyard

                    Far End Of The Graveyard EP by Ghosting Season
You are from Leeds and originally from a rock background, why the cross over to electronic and how have those who followed you in the rock community reacted to your cross over?
We started going to clubs after rock gigs and we were introduced to DJs like Surgeon, James Holden, Shackleton, Alex Smoke and Marc Houle. We started liking these nights more than the gigs and felt we wanted to find out how these guys make their music.

We were getting a little tired of the 'rock band' formula and wanted to make 'loopy music' with synths and beefy kick drums. The rock community were cool with it, we used to play lots with metal and stoner bands and they'd all crowd around and freak out when we played. Gavin plays with a cello bow instead of a plectrum on the guitar and they loved that. We've had a lot of support from the alternative side of the press too. They like to party.

Would you say there is more energy and numbers attending rock or electronic gigs?
Both really which is where we feel we come in. We feel that it can get a little stagnant watching guys thrash the same power chords every night, but it's also boring watching some guy noodle on a laptop. As far as numbers, they're pretty equal both have massively healthy scenes too. It’s nice to give the rock kids something to dance to, and the techno heads something to look at. We try to make our performances as engaging as possible without going too overboard!

You moved to Manchester recently, can you tell me your thoughts on the cities scene and your fave hangouts in Manchester and Leeds?
We felt a strong tie to the city as we play here a lot and it has a very vibrant electronic scene. We played with Shackleton a while back and we looked around us when we were playing and both said 'let's just move here, this is amazing!!' In Leeds we like “The Mint Club” for its technique nights (RIP) and also system. West Indian Centre was great too.

In Manchester we like Common, Kraak, Hoya Hoya and Soup Kitchen. Great places to hear underground music. The science museum is awesome! Really amazing stuff. The German Christmas market is really big here too this time of year. The northern quarter is probably the 'place to be' too lots of amazing and bizarre shops (quite like Soho) and really good place to eat and drink.

Why change monikers? What was the thinking behind that? If you are known under one name how come the change?
We wrote an album last winter that was going to be a follow up to worriedaboutsatan album 'arrivals'. After we finished, we listened back for weeks and it just didn't feel right. Well, it did feel right, but it was something else. It was dance music and what we didn't see WAS as a dance act. So we panicked and didn't know what to do. We just sat down and thought "why don't we just do another band?!?!" it’s not like we have any restrictions musically or equipment wise.

A lot of people are having more than one alias for the output - pearson sound/ramadanman, instramental/boddika, caribou/daphne etc it’s good that you can write music and THEN decide what to do with it. It’s exciting to know that there are no restrictions stylistically. If what comes out of us is disco, we'll start a disco band, if it comes out metal we'll do a metal band (although we're really not into carrying bass amps!!!!)

Some of the song names and references are pretty morbid and dark? Why so? What are you saying with that?
Haha. We're into some pretty 'interesting' things at Satan HQ. Some things that should never be spoken about. Ha-ha joking. Seriously though, we don't really see them as morbid or dark, maybe dark, but not evil or anything like that.

We like to create a lot of imagery with our music, images, and song titles. It’s important that the listener really gets inside the music. A lot of the titles are things we've read about and that have interested us, like the song 'Dead Man's Switch'. People should find out what that means, it's amazing (and terrifying in this particular case)  terrifying. We had no idea this existed. We wrote the music around this.

Ghosting SeasonsWhat is going to be happening at the 'live' performances around this new band? Is it going to be live or just laptops?
We play keys, guitars and drums live along with occasional vocals and strings. Anything goes!

What was the production process on the EP? What did you use in making of in terms of machines and programmes, plug-ins etc?
Pretty simple to be honest, we use pretty normal equipment but in less conventional ways. We use a computer with Ableton live for recording. We don't use any synths or plug-ins though. We make all the sounds from guitars, vocals, piano, violin, and hitting household items for a lot of the drums.

The snare drum/clicking sound in 'far end of the graveyard' is the bathroom light pull cord some kicks drums are made by jumping on the stairs too. The process is quite complex though Gavin makes a lot of demos - quick sketches with melodies or little rhythms. We listen to these for a long time and then decide how the track should go.

You are self releasing the EP – why? Why not on a label? Was that a conscious decision?
We wanted the EP to be a taste of what’s to come and more of an introduction. We were testing the water seeing if people liked it and so far the reaction has been amazing. There wasn't a massive decision why we went with self releasing. We're not setting up a label or anything. We just wanted to get a couple of tracks out.
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How did the connection to the film-makers of the far end of the graveyard track come about?
We had a remix competition for a worriedaboutsatan track called 'you're in my thoughts' and Greg (the director of the video) entered a remix he'd made. He was a great singer and we asked him to guest vocals on the worriedaboutsatan track 'Heart Monitor'. We found out he does some amazing visuals too, and so we asked him to do the first Ghosting Season video. We told him he can do whatever he likes and that he had 2 weeks. The first draft he sent back was so good we used it.

Ibiza? What are your thoughts on same? There seems to be a fragmented scene in the UK that do not relate to Ibiza – why so?
I think it's the whole holiday side of things. Also, the climate the UK scene is a lot more underground and raw (I think) there is obviously certain expectations on Ibiza and the clubs. Recently there does seem to be some crossover however. Acts that would normally be not appreciated in Ibiza seem to be playing there, like Scuba etc. Which is an amazing thing, it’s good that Ibiza is shaking the whole 'super club-minimal techno' tag.

Would you ever play there?
Yes, definitely. If we have the opportunity we'll be there for sure. Hopefully, the live aspect of dance music will get really there.

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