Interview With Philly Rave Rage Trio, Ghösh
Interview With Philly Rave Rage Trio, Ghösh
By Brian Walker
I sat down and took some time to speak with Symphony and Zach about their band Ghosh. Ghosh is in the Philadelphia area and has been played on local radio stations, and has hit the ground in the local scene. Members Symphony Spell, Zachary Fairbrother and Kevin Keenan whip up fast, loud, anthemic dance tracks influenced by nu metal and jungle with grime, industrial and big beat. I took some time to interview them about their approach to songwriting, social politics, representation and their own music community.
What does Ghosh mean to you in context of storytelling and sound?
Symphony: Storytelling is so important to me. A lot of women, a lot of black folks, a lot of queer folks don’t get to tell their stories on their own terms. There are so many conditions and stipulations for what’s considered appropriate for us to talk about publicly. For that reason unabashed expression can feel like something that only certain kinds of people have access to. I am very privileged to have gone to schools, participated in activities, and had a family that encouraged me to explore the best ways to express myself. I am pretty stable in my identity and honest to my truth as a result of that. People like me, queer black women, don’t get that most of the time though. Ghösh is about being the most-me that I can be; in the face of white supremacy that’s an act of liberation. Being genuine about my story, my experience, the joys of my existence, I am detaching from and therefore dismantling the patriarchy and all of the toxic institutions it propels. Being able to use my voice is symbolically and literally so powerful. I am loud and I have a lot to say. I hope my story, my voice, my rage, my truth disrupt the status quo and fuck it all up. I hope my story resonates with folks, and encourages them to tell their story in order to disrupt the status quo and fuck it all up. White heterosexual cis men have domianted every avenue of the dominant cultural narrative. Any and every marginalized voice that speaks up can effectively take some of our power back.
As a musician who describes yourself as nu jungle, digital hardcore, and grime what are some things/ other artists that influence your sound?
Zach: Nü Jungle and US Grime are just tongue-in-cheek genres we made up. When you’re making music and trying to describe what you do to people it’s often difficult. We just wanted to keep it goofy, Digital Hardcore just sounds badass, and we’ve played with some hardcore bands, so I was just like lets call ourselves that. We pull ideas from all sorts of different music, lots of stuff you probably wouldn’t even hear right away. Like industrial for an example, I wouldn’t say we have a prototypical industrial sound, but the idea of a machine-like-wall-of-sound that just propels forward gives me a vision for how something should sound. Or how punk music has songs that are all around 2 minutes. We don’t sound like a punk band but we try to keep our ideas short, direct and immediate.
Symphony: Yeah, we’re asked to define ourselves more than we’d like honestly and Nü Jungle and US Grime are just ways to poke fun at that. So often when people ask about our influences it feels like they’re trying to “figure us out” in a way that misses the point. I like to think that we sound like the city, or we sound like a fun night out with hot freaks. We’re influenced by the Beastie Boys and the movie Hackers but also the 2001 Josie and the Pussycats movie and Rob Zombie, mall culture but also anti-fascism, basement noise shows but also Jock Jams.
Can you share a little more about the writing process of your music? I saw that you started in 2018, but released your records in 2020,
Zach: The inspiration is always different, but I’ll work on the beats and Symphony will work on the lyrics and hooks, and we will meet up and hash things out. The songs we released this year are the result of a lot of revising and us trying to discover our sound. We wrote a lot more songs in those two years but a lot of them didn’t make the cut. Sometimes they resurfaced as parts or elements of songs we did release. We often try things out and see what sticks and what doesn’t. I’d say we probably throw away more than we keep. In the past year we started working with Kevin Keenen as our sound guy/co-producer and he’s helped us find ways to get our ideas to come across stronger. It’s been really fun to see it evolve.
Symphony: Our songwriting process is always changing! Nothing’s ever the same.
I noticed your discography is released in two song segments,based on different but yet consistent topics? Will this be leading to an album?
Zach: Perhaps, but we are trying to move away from the traditional idea of an album to something more journalistic. We like the idea of releasing smaller batches of music more often, less like how bands release music and more how producers and rappers do it. With how so much has changed in the music industry and the ease of digital distribution, it makes less sense to us to spend all this effort leading to one big drop. It’s fun to be engaging more consistently with your listeners, especially now since no one can tour. We will see though, the creative process takes its own time.
Symphony: The way that people listen to music these days doesn’t necessarily seem conducive to releasing a full length album unless that album is an epic masterpiece. Like Zach said before, we throw away more than we keep. We’re particular about what we share. When we do release an album, it’s going to be awesome. But for now, we’ll release singles. We get to engage more frequently that way and evolve a little more with each release!
You have mentioned on social media that you are angry and you use music to channel your anger, how do you want to see that take place in various music scenes?
Symphony: Right now, if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. No matter what scene you’re a part of, you should be vocalizing at least a little bit of outrage. I would love to see EVERYONE with any fanbase using whatever platform they have to stand against fascism, racism and capitalism by keeping people informed, distributing resources and advocating for disenfranchised people. With social media it’s so easy; there’s basically no excuse not to.
To follow up how would you want to see Philadelphia and other community music scenes change?
Symphony: I love Philadelphia. But I didn’t always. I moved here from Brooklyn, where music communities were just more diverse. Philly is segregated, more segregated than any place I had experienced. I hated it so much after two years, I moved to Hawaii. When the volcano was erupting, I came back, prepared to give Philly the benefit of the doubt because of my friends and how affordable it is. I still miss not feeling like a novelty, but it has been getting better.
Most people I know who make music are white guys and when I go to a show at Cousin Danny’s or Dustbunny, there’s primarily white people in attendance. Of course, there’s never any clear designation that these spaces are for white people, but when a person of color goes into a space that is primarily white, it’s just sort of implied. Now that we can’t have shows, and we’re talking about race a lot I hope white promoters and bookers think about the ways in which they perpetuate white supremacy in their venues, shows, bands, and spaces. Philly is more than 40% black, if there’s not at least one black performer on your bill, then what are you doing?
Are there anymore records we can expect to see from Ghosh in 2020?
Zach: We certainly hope so! But also be on the lookout for our live streams, we built a set and are launching a twitch channel, so that we can still find ways to play and discover new avenues to be creative.
Symphony: We’re always buzzin’ on something. We’ll have more out before the end of 2020 for sure.