Photo: Alyssa Lorenzon
GosT is slasherwave, retrowave, horrorwave (check out our Rise of the Machines piece). Whatever label is bestowed upon Texas-based fright machine it’s likely to not matter. Since GosT’s start in 2013, with debut full-length Skull, the one-man synth nightmare has defied easy categorization. Now three albums in–2016’s haunt-fest Non Paradisi shattered fan and label expectations–one might wonder where GosT will go next. Certainly, the path in front of the be-cloaked frontman is defined, but the Texan is all too eager to step off it, going further down the Left Hand Path. To wit, new album Possessor (Blood Music) will show a new side of GosT, one with blastbeats, screams, and gothic rock employs. GosT doesn’t want his music to be pigeonholed as simply electronic music, as his aspirations go above and beyond predefined, fan-set music silos.
Decibel sat down (literally) with GosT on a recent stop during his North American Tour 2017 with fellow synth-heads Dance with the Dead. The bar chairs and side room filled with various stage detritus set the mood. We talked persona (his use of the skull mask/occult imagery), Tangerine Dream, John Carpenter, where he sees GosT residing musically, and new album, Possessor, from which GosT is playing three songs to whet the appetite and to acclimatize Wavers to newer, darker, and more confrontational sides of the Texan.
You’d think GosT would spellbind us to his personal and perceptional demons, but he’s really just a regular dude with an affinity for synths, horror movies, and the psychology of the occult.
At what point did the concept of GosT click?
GosT: I started GosT when I got tired of playing in bands. I got tired of the creative process with people. So, I bought a laptop and started to try to make music. Almost from the beginning people liked it.
Did you immediately know what you were doing?
GosT: I had been messing around for six or seven years on another computer. I knew how the program—FL Studio—basically worked. Then, it was just about figuring out how things would sound. I mean, I know a lot of people use Ableton, Logic, but they’re all pretty much the same. They’re all pretty good. It’s just how you use it.
How do you source sounds? Are you taking canned or found sounds and then manipulating?
GosT: I do a bit of found sound. Mainly, I use VSTs, which is software. I’ll start with a preset and work with it until I’m happy.
And how do you know you’ve achieved proper darkness, so to speak, with your set-up?
GosT: [Laughs] It’s just a feeling. Like when you write a good riff. When it sounds sick, it becomes part of the song. If I enjoy it, it becomes part of the song.
I hear a lot of ‘80s synth things happening. Is your angle the film/soundtrack/score genre? There’s a lot of John Carpenter in GosT.
GosT: Definitely, I want everything to sound horror-themed. Basically, I like horror movies. I think it works very well with heavier electronic music. Those John Carpenter-style arpeggios give a creepy feeling.
I also hear Tangerine Dream in GosT.
GosT: Oh, the soundtrack to The Keep is unbelievable. The silver cross scene. I’m also into Goblin. Other than that, I’m really into the Phantasm soundtrack. I can’t remember off the top of my head who who [Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave—CD] composed that, but it’s really good.
I was just listening to the Risky Business soundtrack. “Love on a Real Train” is untouchable.
GosT: What a great fucking scene. For sure, Tangerine Dream are amazing. Their synth designs are unreal. They’re pioneers.
Do you see yourself as a songwriter or film scorer?
GosT: Definitely a songwriter. I’d love to score a film, but film scores are more laid back, even if it’s a horror movie. I haven’t gotten hit up for that. I mean, I think they’d hear my music and think, “Ah, this wouldn’t work.” So, I think they’re not even going to ask. But that would be amazing to score a horror film. I’ve seen some documentaries on dudes who’ve done soundtracks and they’ll take like complete works to the production guys and they’re like, “Nah, this all has to change.” So, I imagine it to be incredibly frustrating. It would be challenging. I’d be so into it.
Where do you see GosT fitting in the spectrum of electronic music?
GosT: I’m not sure I fit at all. I’ve been playing more metal shows than electronic festivals. Definitely has electronic appeal. The bigger part of the electronic scene is more festival dude-bro, EDM, or goth. I think I have some gothic appeal. It’s not a major thing, but goth is there.
I gather the reason metalheads, in general, are tuned into GosT is because of the label, Blood Music. It’s not like you’re in the same label space as Steve Aoki, Daft Punk, or Tiësto.
GosT: True. But I don’t mind it. If the community is down with me, I’m down with being part of the community. I didn’t think I would be ‘cause I write electronic music now, but here I am, playing Deathfests and Road Burn. I get to see all my favorite bands now, which is a plus. [Laughs]
Tell us about the new material. Non Paradisi came out in 2016.
GosT: The new material is finished. We’re shooting for an early 2018 release, around March. On Blood. There are a lot of changes. It’s got blastbeats, screams, a few gothic-sounding tracks, it’s all over the place. I’m pretty proud of it. I hope people get it. But it will be different.
The presentation for Non Paradisi was crazy. What can you tell us about the new album?
GosT: Yeah, Førtifem killed it last time. This album is more about possession. The cover is a photo. To me, appearance changes are happening with GosT. You can see that with the album teaser that I’ve just released. Førtifem does some of the work on the inside and on the back cover.
What about possession excited you?
GosT: The album title is Possessor. I didn’t want to do a story with this record, but the label suggested toying around with a theme. So, I started messing around with samples from the Satanic Panic from the ‘80s, Geraldo Rivera and shit like that.
Right, Ouija boards, Dungeons & Dragons, and movies like The Omen.
GosT: [Laughs] Oh, man! Dungeons & Dragons was a nerd game the media took to another level. My mom was worried I was going to get lumped in with a gang of devil worshipers. The local skateboarders. She’s like, “Skaters are devil worshipers.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?!” I’m only like 9 and I’m thinking she’s unbelievable.
What I really like about GosT as well as, say, Pertubator are the production values. There’s a real feel to the sound, perhaps because there’s more space between beats, but there’s depth.
GosT: You don’t get that synthetic beefy crunch in metal. I mix as I go. I try to be as close as possible when I mix before I master. Some songs I can do in a couple of days, other songs take a couple of weeks. I mean, my stuff is very compressed. It makes it loud and abrasive. You can hurt your ears if you listen for too long at loud volumes. [Laughs]
I bet the dynamic range is cut dramatically.
GosT: Oh yeah. I think my Waves look like a fucking toothbrush. [Laughs] It’s a personal preference. It makes it sound heavier. If I was in the proper dB range, it wouldn’t even sound right. I tried to make some of the Non Paradisi songs with proper dynamic range, but they just didn’t have the power.
There’s a lot of dismissal of electronic artists in almost every scene. Metal is no different. The perception is you’re just messing around on your laptop with bought sounds. There’s no songwriting or artistry to it.
GosT: Right. To get it to sound proper is a pretty technical process. That’s laughable to anybody who plays guitar that electronic music is easy. They’re like, “Yeah, I can do that any day.” I’m like, ‘OK, go ahead. Show me up!” It took me seven or eight years to get anywhere near production level ready. A lot of people use outside mastering, but I do everything myself. It’s not an easy process. It is now, for me, ‘cause I know how to get there. Getting here, I almost gave up multiple times. I just couldn’t get the production values I was looking for.
Did you blueprint the production values—off another artist, for example—or did you figure it out yourself? Not sure if you had a mentor.
GosT: I wish I had a mentor early on. I didn’t have anyone else to ask. So, it’s all on my own. Carpenter Brut’s stuff was louder than everybody’s music. I asked him and he said, “I’m not telling you, dude.” [Laughs] I stumbled upon it, actually. I know we all—me, Perturbator, and so on—talk synths, but we all have a different process.
And the ‘80s vibe. Is that something you grew up and identify with?
GosT: I definitely identify with it. I grew up in the ‘80s. It’s a huge part of the project.
GosT gets lumped into the whole ‘80s retrowave movement. Is that something that concerns you?
GosT: Well, I don’t think I care too much, but I don’t want it to be a major focus. The new stuff is definitely less ‘80s. It still has the horror elements in it, but it’s definitely moving in a new direction.
When did you decide on the persona, GosT?
GosT: At the start of the project. Once I had decided to use demonology it all came pretty easily. I’ve always been into the imagery. I enjoy the superstition of it, the traditions around it. Why demons became demons, because of the Catholic church. It seemed to be an interesting idea for a persona.
Is it personal or is GosT merely a persona?
GosT: It’s a bit personal. I’m anti-religious. So, it’s more to ruffle feathers of people I disagree with. I don’t identify with anything in demonology or Satanism. I’m more curious about how people do get in-depth with it. Like, I’ve done interviews with the Church of Satan. That’s cool. For me, it’s purely entertainment.
** GosT’s Non Paradisi is out now on Blood Music. Order it on CD or LP (HERE). GosT’s new album, Possessor, is slated for an early 2018 release on Blood Music. No pre-order set.