Interview With GosT (Baalberith Has Arisen)

One of the great things about running a site like this is getting to know some of the bands, such as our interview with Perturbator from last October.  But that's basic, that's not all we mean.  It's not just the fact that you speak to them on a more personal level, it's that from there you often get suggestions of other things to check out.  That brings us to Gost.  During our talk with the abovementioned band, he dropped the name of this mysterious one-man dark synthwave character who enjoys donning a custom-made skull mask (done by these guys).  Checked out his latest S/T when it was released in October while we were finishing our interview, and it was one of the best we'd heard among the current rise of darkness that's been dominating the electronic scene.  After getting another interview done, we saw Gost was planning the release of his first full-length via Blood Music.  It's set for release officially April 28th of this year and sold out in only fifteen minutes after the preorder began.  There's a reason for that, and let's learn why as we learn more about the man himself.

Deaf Sparrow - What kind of background do you have in music, if any?  Sometimes people scoff at such a question, and perhaps it seems banal, but it's always interesting to see where musicians are coming from, sometimes it's quite revealing, but strangely you'll often find them spout off names like 'Metallica' or 'Nirvana'.

Gost - I started playing music around 15 years old. I think the first band that I actually remember being fond of playing in was basically a rip off of His Hero Is Gone. I secretly always listened to groups like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, The Cure etc. But at the time I had no idea how to even begin making this kind of music. The "biggest" metal band I've ever been a part of was/is Vaste Burai. We still play one off shows occasionally.

DS - Vaste sounds pretty interesting, it's common for many musicians of your type have a pretty wide experience with music, and with Vaste you've got some doom going on in there. What role do you play in that band, anyway?

G -  I am just the guitarist/vocalist. I share song writing with Kevin Blalock.

DS - Do you mean Blaylock as in Miriam from The Hunger?!!  Sorry, had to drop that reference in this context.

G -  Oh man I love that movie! I would totally hang with Miriam and do vampy shit.

DS - Hhaahah yeah man.  Before we get too far into Goth indoctrination, how did Gost project begin and why? We've come across a number of bands of the dark snythwave movement, but the one thing noticeable about your approach is the complexity of your beats, which creates a much more intense experience than other acts, such as Dance With The Dead.

G - I started Gost as a way to make music by myself, without having to involve other members. I have always had the utmost respect for the french electrohouse scene which I think shows in my music. The production and modern feel of groups like Justice, Sebastian, Mr. Oizo etc. has really helped shape the Gost sound.

DS - Gost has been kicking since around 2013 it seems. Any earlier than that? When you first started to work on your music, did you look to other acts for inspiration? Your earlier work, such as Radio Macabre, is much simpler than what you've been doing recently, especially your last S/T. What came about in the process to cause this essential change to the power of Gost?

G -  I actually started at the very end of 2012. The first bit of "synthwave" I made was released as Nightrunner. I've never actually shared that but it was shit and its still there if you want to make fun of me haha. I was really influenced by dudes like Dance With The Dead and Perturbator in the beginning. They reminded me of the synth soundtracks I enjoyed as a child. So I decided to start over and come from a darker mindset. The first three Gost  EPs were made on a Dell laptop... After people actually started to show interest I decided to produce from a more modern standpoint to separate myself from other acts a bit.

DS - Yeah, you've definitely come a long way since your earlier stuff, no offense, but that's how it usually goes when someone is good at what they do, they develop. So how does your writing process begin? Do you simply catch a good groove while messing around on your hardware, or do you have more of a direct process?

G -  I'll usually have a general idea going in my head before I ever sit down. I start with the bass most of the time and just mess with it until I have something I like.

DS - Interesting, so essentially you build your tracks based on a foundational bass line and then go from there? Do you simply layer after that and build up the sounds until you get it where you want it? What kind of programs are you using to dish it out?

G -  Yes for the most part. Sometimes I will start with the melody though. It kind of depends on where I'm pulling inspiration from at that particular moment. I don't exactly have one or even five certain vst's that I use for my bass. I use different programs on every song depending on where I am wanting to go with the track. I am constantly downloading new vst's as well to try and keep evolving.

DS - Technological wizardry...  That's something we probably haven't really heard before.  The easy assumption would be you'd stick to one or a few programs at most.  So speaking of that further, what kind of beast stuff are you using? Synths, custom PCs, all that, what do you have?

G -  I have a few hardware synths but lately I mostly use vst's for convenience. I keep most of what I use to myself. I produce in FL Studio and Mixcraft. My go to vst's right now are Native Instruments Reaktor, Korg M1, and Tal uno lx. My current computer is a Dell Optiplex but I'm really close to needing a replacement...

DS - Yeah, can't say it would be entirely expected for you to reveal all of your behind-the-scenes skills in creating your music.  Let's move on.  Have you had any live performances yet?

G -  Yes, I have been playing live since about 6 months into producing as Gost.

DS - So live, just to be clear here, are you playing tracks you've created or do you do things totally on the spot?  Or, perhaps, you're doing a combination of live experimentation and pre-arranged patterns? How about visuals? Any videos while you perform that go along with the music?

G -  The tracks are pre-created tracks with certain synth parts left out for me to fill with live performance. And I mix in small changes here and there throughout the set. A lot of electronic musicians change their tracks and mix them together for live sets. That has always bothered me a bit when one of my favorite tracks is mixed with another and I miss out on hearing the track as it was written. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy small changes and such in a live environment, but I really have always preferred how bands play live. So that's what I try and emulate during Gost sets. You will hear the songs as they were written with only small changes strewn throughout a set.

DS - Sounds like a solid approach for this kind of music.  Hearing a favorite live that's been edited or adapted would probably irk most people.  For your live performances, what kind of goodies do you give your fans? Are you simply a button pusher, dancing around as the computer does a huge portion of the work? One would think you'd likely have some sort of visuals to go along with what you do, perhaps clips from films and such. Yes, no?

G -  I use two ipads on Alesis i/o docks. One is for mixing and chopping up the tracks and the other I use to play select synth parts. I think with Gost as a character the live shows are fairly entertaining/surprising without needing a lot of visuals to back me up. I usually do have some nasty shit playing behind me on a screen but I haven't put in enough time in to get the visuals exactly where I want them to be. If there are any visual artists out there that would like to work with me on that hmu!

DS - How about that name?  Most listeners likely know of the tendency in this genre for bands to replace things with numbers or odd spellings (such as Crim3s), so just curious about the name. Where does Gost come from? Or should I be spelling it G0st? Removal of the 'h' for copyright fun?  Forgot to add that 'T' in there too, so I guess GosT is more proper.

G -  I just wanted something super simple and Gost is just what came to mind. The h is gone yes for copyright reasons. It would be pretty epic if Ghost B.C. got wind of Gost and we could collaborate! Maybe they will sue me with their false satanism. Baalberith is not pleased hehe.

DS - The image itself, as can be read elsewhere, you consider an extension of slasher-film costumes. Is that the primary reason for the skeleton look? I ask because for some reason, ever since I was a child, I had this, hmm, thing for skeletons. When I was 5 years old my mother threw me a Halloween-themed birthday party and that skeleton cake was BEAST. Suffice to say, you're on my good side with that skeleton look. Just curious if there is any more background on it you'd like to share other than what I've read.

G -  Yeh, the character is a direct influence from 80s slasher films with the back story of being possessed by the almighty Baalberith. I'm a bit disappointed that there was never a slasher wearing a human skull around like a trophy. Maybe one day...

DS - Explain Ballberith. The name, your created origins, your prey, speak to me in character if you like.

G -  Baal-berith is older than time itself. He is a prince of hell and its chief secretary. Unable to lie. He knows all things past, present and future. He is able to make mere men devine and hold them up as equals to God. He is the bringer of death, feared and respected by all of the immortals. As Gost I am commanded by the master to spread his dark gospel of truth and death through music and word alike. ALL HAIL BAALBERITH!

DS - Very clear you're aware of VHS and B-movie culture, maybe even Z-movie culture, which is a pretty common theme in this type of music, especially in the sound. You, however, as mentioned above, have a more modern sound to your approach that still retains that essence of the 80s. What kind of films and such were particularly influential to you? Love Me Deadly perhaps?

G -  I saw A Nightmare On Elm Street when I was only like 5 years old. I was scared shitless but instantly hooked. The score from that movie is spot on as well as the original Halloween and Halloween III scores. If you grew up in the 80's and enjoyed horror synth scores you enjoyed Carpenter. That's it there is no one better in my eyes! I didn't get into earlier horror films until I was older. Goblin were the kings of 70's horror soundtracks.

DS - Yeah man, Goblin, great stuff. My first horror film, though technically part sci-fi, was The Thing from the 80s. God damn, even today that film tears. Next I remember it being The Lost Boys, and then from there I delved further and further into weird stuff. Today, on a personal note, I'm actually a professor for my real job and I teach a course on vampires, eventually getting into lots of the obscure films and things. What would you say is your favorite B-flick?

G -  That's a tough one. Maybe, The Gate, The Wraith, Silver Bullet... So many great flicks made in the 80s!

DS - Do you have any contact with other bands of your type? I seem to recall I first heard about you while chatting with Perturbator, or at least it was someone similar, back when you had a pretty small fanbase, but recently in the past few months you really climbed once that S/T got out there. Getting some support from other bands and such?

G -  Yes I'm good friends with a lot of the producers in the genre. Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, Protector 101, Dan Terminus and Dance With The Dead are all great dudes that I talk with fairly regularly. Perturbator has always supported Gost, he's alright for a Frenchy hahaha. There may be a few shows this year with some of these fuckers so stay tuned!

DS - I was kind of surprised at how young Perturbator is, I was expecting this guy with years of experience, and when I talked to him I was surprised, no offense to him at all, it's great. No need to give out your age, just talking there. Now for your presence, generally, do you like to play a role as Gost? You may have already commented on this above when I talked about live stuff.

G -  Haha yeh that dude is living the dream getting success at 22, fucker... Most of us are bit older than Perturbator. I'm 34 years old but I'm counting on Satan to stop the aging process at any moment. Gost is always in character. I try to avoid speaking with people in a live environment unless I am in character. Also, I own my own business in a super conservative/christian area and I don't want to be crucified for artistic choice.

DS - So before we end this one, tell us about Behemoth, your new full-length due near the end of this coming April.  What was your approach with it?  A further development of your previous sound or something with more of a thematic approach perhaps?

G -Behemoth basically picks up where S/T left off. It's still a very heavy and dark release over all. I did throw in a couple more traditional synthwave type tracks in as well. The french art duo Førtifem took the reigns for the artwork as well!

DS - Really excited to get the press package on this one before it's released. When I checked their Facebook the other day, Blood Music said sold out of the damn thing in only fifteen minutes hahaah! How do you feel about that? Clearly they're covering your stuff well.

G -I feel completely humbled by how well the record sold and how fast... I can't really put it into words man. I've got to give most of the credit to Blood Music though. They put just as much effort into this release as I did! I very happy where I'm at right now for sure.

DS - Thanks again for the great interview, wish you the best and it seems like it's already coming.

G -Hell yeh, thank you!

 

Interview Conducted by Stanley Stepanic