Interview: GHØSTKID

After parting ways with Electric Callboy in 2020 after a decade, Sebastian “Sushi” Biesler created his alter ego GHØSTKID and set about creating darker, more personal music that allowed him to express himself in the way that EC couldn’t. Ahead of a lengthy UK and European tour with Blind Channel, GHØSTKID’s stunning sophomore album ‘HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE’ has just dropped on Century Media Records and we spoke with Sushi about the concept behind the album, and what it is like to be the Boss now.

The new album ‘HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE’ has just landed, roughly 4 years since the debut album was released; in what ways do you feel you have grown as an artist since that debut album?

I would say that [the biggest growth] is realizing that I have to just focus on myself when it comes to songwriting.

After the debut album, we then had the pandemic, of course, which changed a lot for me and the guys in the band. I kind of lost the connection to writing songs and so on. Then there was that moment of “Okay, you need to go back to songwriting”, so I had to motivate myself again.

The turning point was when I went to LA for 4 weeks and that just changed my mind because I realized that people celebrate art differently there. That helped me discover more about myself as an artist because they accept that it’s part of your persona and that being an artist means something.

Writing music these days is so competitive and I’ve just circled back and learned to focus on myself. I came back from LA and started to write naturally and not overthink what I was doing: if it was right for me then that’s okay because I’m just trying to tell my story. And that makes creating art a lot more fun.

LA has so many contrasts…

Yes…

You have the glamour and wealth of Beverley Hills and then to offset that, there is the sleaze and decay of Hollywood. In a sense, it was the perfect starting point for you to create the new album.

I would say, a little bit, I don’t know when I started to come up with this idea of a concept album, but LA certainly had an impact and I always felt connected to that LA pop culture aesthetic. I guess that there were just one or two tracks…but after that, I started songwriting for the album…so it had an impact, I absorb things like a sponge. I always try to absorb things from the environment that I’m in, and everything in LA is huge. All the neon lights and all that scenery had an impact because every thought and emotion that came into my mind was in that kind of scenery. And I think that was the reason it turned out to be a concept album.

When you get closer to the album release date, do you get nervous about people hearing it for the first time?

It depends. You get more nervous when you drop the first track. But because this one felt like everything was happening so quickly I would say that I was more happy than nervous that it was finished and out there. The biggest reward for me is when people like it. In the beginning, I would check in on the comments, but of course, there are a lot of trolls! Back in the day, I would overthink a lot about comments, but now I’m just checking for the really bad comments so I can comment on those…which is a lot of fun! I’m not that sensitive anymore when it comes to negative criticism.

Could anything other than the title track have opened the album?

The reason that the title track opens the album is that there is a timeline and the title ‘HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE’ symbolizes living the dream. You want to be an artist or an actor, so you start with that dream. But no one really knows that you have to give everything. Being an artist means that you have to work 24-7 so you go to bed as an artist, and wake up as an artist. You earn shitty money! [laughs] If you are sick you still have to perform anyway, you don’t have holidays…so everything is just circling around your dream. And that’s the reason why the album is called ‘HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE’ because this is what it is. To make it – and you never know if you will make it and be successful – you have to give it your all, and you have to love that shit. If you look at it as a job…then it is the most exhausting and worst-paid job ever! [laughs]

It’s a thought-provoking album title.

Even if the title sounds negative, it’s actually a pretty pure and positive thing because you want to give it your all. The album is about the downward spiral of a Hollywood diva and the title track is the starting point; it’s about her coming to Hollywood and track five, VALERIE, is probably the turning point where everything is going wrong and she starts that downward spiral. You can see that the dream that started with the purest of intentions has turned to the opposite.

HELENA DRIVE closes the album, that was the last residence of Marilyn Monroe?

Yes, it was.

Marilyn Monroe is the ultimate example of Hollywood chewing someone up and spitting them out, but it had a tragic ending in this case.

Exactly, that’s the point…I wasn’t thinking about Marilyn Monroe in the early stages of the album, but it turned into something, and this is the cool thing about this track: that was the only chorus that was written while I was in LA. I wasn’t thinking that probably this one could be the closure of the story because HELENA DRIVE, in general, sums up why people are getting into that downward spiral. Everybody is just looking for a place to fit in and a place that they can call home, and this is what HELENA DRIVE is basically about. You have to give a lot, and maybe it turns out pretty bad. Being an artist means that you live differently, you are surrounded by so many things, and you have power, of course, there are drugs and all that stuff, and it can go downhill pretty fucking fast if you are not aware of who you are.

With the album being so personal to you, and with you being involved every step of the way; did you find yourself getting too close to it at times and having to step away for a break?

I would say that for me, I’m writing pretty subtle tracks. I didn’t have a concept album in mind from the start, it’s not like I had something in my mind that I needed to get out because some things were bothering me. That’s the good thing about GHØSTKID, I can express things through that persona or alter ego and sometimes I don’t even understand what I’m writing about and it might be a few months later when the track is recorded that I understand what it is about.

Even UGLY, the first track I began writing for the album, I wrote that with my producer [Sky van Hoff] and I came up with an idea for a single, he said that we had to do it differently so we switched the idea into another track, and at the end when we had all the other tracks together UGLY was a track that fitted perfectly. Sometimes magical stuff happens, it’s so subconscious, UGLY made sense because it is about how people try to change you because they think that you are not as good enough as you are. You are your own person, and I would say that this is what I have learned over the past years…If people love you then they would never try to change you. They would support you. So if you think about that in the whole ‘HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE’ album context then you of course have management, record labels, the industry…a lot of people that you are surrounded by who are probably not good for you…there are a lot of great people in my life, but there have been some shady guys as well. In the context of the album, you have this character who everyone is saying “You need to be more skinny, you need to have bigger boobs…”, whatever, this is the industry. So that is what UGLY is about.

But it helps to take a step back at times; don’t listen to your music for one month and then you can enjoy it again!

The artwork for ‘HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE’ is stunning, who created it, and have you seen it on vinyl yet?

Yes, it came a few weeks back, and to see it on vinyl and CD – and the booklet – is incredible. The cool story behind the art is that everything is handpainted, by Aly Wayne Gacy, and this makes it more valuable for me because it is not digital art or whatever, this is all from canvasses that he painted. We met at a festival and I told him that I loved his art and could he imagine drawing an entire booklet for an album and he was like “Absolutely!” I sent him all the lyrics and song titles, and so on, and said to try and interpret them for himself. He started painting and it was great because it was two different kinds of art coming together to create one piece of art and that’s why the album artwork for me this time was so special.

What can anyone who buys a ticket to a GHØSTKID show expect?

Oh, that’s a good question! I hope that everything works out with the new tracks and stuff, it’s been a while since we’ve been on the road, but people can expect us to create a good night for them…and as long as the people there have fun then I don’t care. That’s the reason why you go to shows.

After being part of a band environment with Electric Callboy for so long, with GHØSTKID everything now goes through you, are you enjoying being the Boss?

[laughs] It’s crazy! This was the biggest thing that I underestimated because I thought that when I left my old band “Okay, now I’m on my own I can express myself how I want…it’s going to be alright” and “This is going to be cool!” but then I realized “Oh shit, you are the boss now!” and you have to deal with so many things that you didn’t have to deal with before. I thought that I knew that it would be hard, but I didn’t expect that it would be fucking hell! [laughs] It even changes how you behave; in the beginning, it was just about passion, playing shows, and partying, and now you have to deal with so much; personal issues, and so many different characters that you have to get on the same side…and you are the boss, you are responsible y’know! I’m still learning, and I have to structure myself which is a hard thing because I’m pretty chaotic and more of an artist than a business guy. So now I have to do both which is hard because, in the end, you are still the asshole no matter who fucked up! [laughs]

 

Interview – Dave

‘HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE’ is available now via Century Media Records, more information HERE

Connect with GHØSTKID, HERE

UK live dates with Blind Channel:

29.03 – Thekla, Bristol
30.03 – KK’s Steelmill, Wolverhampton
31.03 – The Garage, Glasgow
02.04 – Club Academy, Manchester
03.04 – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
04.04 – La Scala, London

EU live dates can be found HERE

 

 

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