5 Minutes With… Ghost Culture

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Ghost Culture, real name James Greenwood, has been around for a few years now. Although for the most part, you wouldn’t have known it. Once recognised as ‘One of those DJ’s that doesn’t like the limelight‘, he is now making himself far more known; and we can’t see anyone complaining. Ghost Culture put out his debut album back in January on Phantasy: the label owned by Erol Alkan that only deals in high quality releases. Fact. 

We had a chat with Ghost Culture to talk playing live, being ambiguous and what the hell we’re going to do when every last London venue has been replaced by a Pret A Manger. 

When Ghost Culture first surfaced, you were known as being a pretty elusive character, what made you decide to start shifting more towards the public eye?

It started as a trap, I liked it that way, but these days theres very few cases of where an artist stays like that and still lives from what they do. I’d be shooting myself in the foot If I stayed too elusive – it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to stay for long. I really love performing, and although there are ways that you can stay faceless during a performance, this is never something that felt right to me as I feel what was needed in my performances was an expressive human face.

Words like ‘Mysterious’ are generally bandied around when you’re the topic of choice. Other than the fact you didn’t really interviews at first, why do you think this is a way you’re often described?

Maybe the name has something to do with it? Other than that ‘mysterious’ is a word lazy journalists use when they can’t think of another way to say  ‘there isn’t much to google‘. 

It looks like you’ve got a pretty busy summer coming up, which events/festivals are you most looking forward to playing?

Field Day should be great, although it’s only a 30 minute set. I just played ‘We Love Green‘ in Paris which was excellent. I think I’m most looking forward to going to Iceland. Ive always wanted to go so I’m doing a week trip there before I play Secret Solstice festival. Volcanoes and the blue lagoon! Can’t wait.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

Recently discovered a band called The Cleaners From Venus and I can’t believe I haven’t heard their music before as I can hear similarities in sound to my own music. It’s great pop but with wonky sounds and production

Everyone know’s you’re heavily involved in Erol Alkan’s label, Phantasy. How did the two of you end up working together?

I met Erol because I had been working with Dan Avery for about a year.  A mutual friend said that Dan and I should work together, and after making some not very good stuff for a while, we hit on something and Erol liked it. So Dan then played the demos that I had been making to Erol and he liked that too. I feel very lucky to be part of such a great collective.

As a London based artist/musician, what are your opinions on the closure of so many well loved music venues?

I think it’s a disgrace!  The country has a huge musical heritage – shown really well in Danny Boyle‘s Olympic opening ceremony – and to not take care of the venues here really says something about our capitalist culture. Clearly these venues aren’t making enough dollar for the property developers who’d rather see luxury unaffordable homes be built in their place. But this shouldn’t matter, surely whats more important is valuing our musical heritage and London’s music venues are a seminal part of this. Why is it down to a few people when deciding to knock down the Astoria, for example, when thousands wanted it remaining there. No replacement was planned. France are way ahead of us in how they value their musical culture. We need to step up, the whole word looks to the UK for music.  

Phantasy seems to be pretty consistent with putting out great music. How does it feel to be a part of such a highly regarded venture?

Great, its a strong collective – we all support and help each other out, even with there being striking musical differences between us, there is definitely a bond.

If you had to describe the UK electronic music scene in three words, what would they be?

Bass Bass Bass

You started playing live a little while back, how do they compare with playing DJ sets?

It’s a different affair – I have gaps in my songs when I play live and there’s so much more of a performance to it. For me it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I was determined not to do it stood behind a table staring at a macbook. Something about that for me isn’t right – Its annoying. 

Generally its a different crowd at a gig rather than a club night or DJ set.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up that we should be keeping an eye out for?

Yes – I’m engineering Kelly Lee Owen’s debut album, watch out for it, she’s very talented! 

Ghost Culture will also be playing Farr Festival 16-18 July. For tickets and more information, click here.