Hey! How have you been since we last chatted?
Hey Gemma! It’s been a while indeed! But it’s a pleasure to be back and have a chat with you! A lot of things happened since last time which was when I released my first EP: I have released an album since then, very different from that first one, I’ve also added some new videos, I’ve kept working on promoting myself and many other great unsigned artists and bands, and I’ve been networking to try and bring together more artists and partners.
Give us a little bio for fans new to your artist and music.
Probably the easiest is to give them my official short bio:
There is an enigmatic bigfoot-like character that just came out of the woods after 15 years of being lost. He goes by the handle Ghostly Beard, and he’s a visionary artistic entity with a boundlessly creative sweep that encompasses soft rock, jazz, prog-rock, fusion, pop, classic rock, and more.
Ghostly Beard’s kaleidoscopic creativity has garnered him comparisons to such diverse artists as Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Peter Gabriel, XTC, Cat Stevens, Weather Report, Michael Franks and Chicago. He crafts immersive dreamy sonic landscapes that emotionally blur the line between dark catharsis and subtle rays of hope. Now, he lets us into his universe with an eclectic clutch of thoughtfully sequenced EPs and albums.
We last chatted about your Infinite EP, how was the response?
Pretty good. There has been lots of very positive reviews, quite a lot of airplay on many indie radios and shows and generally people loved it. The album that followed was a little bit more difficult for some, and I knew it would be because it was so much different from the EP, which was more progressive-rock. That following album was a lot more jazz-oriented and I think people were surprised and not entirely convinced of the switch. It’s difficult because people expect artists to always stay in a very defined box, but I resist that because I love all sorts of music and I always want to try something new.
You’re set to release your new album ‘Inward’ tell us more about it.
This one is the one I always wanted to release. But I resisted releasing it first because I wanted to grow some following first, otherwise it would have been totally ignored. I believe it’s my strongest album to date with some of my best songs and best sound and it is a blend of many influences and the culmination of many years of learning music, writing, playing and production. It’s the one that really defines my own sound and style, for better or for worst. It’s somewhere in between the 2 previous releases and I hope it will reconcile everyone and find it’s audience.
To note that I’ve decided to give all the net proceeds from sales (either downloads or CDs) to a charity here in Canada, which is MusiCounts – http://www.musicounts.ca/ – they aim to provide musical instruments and a musical education to the children who needs it the most. Why? Because I believe music is a positive force that should be used for good, but it doesn’t mean that it should be free, because it’s too much devalued in the minds of too many people nowadays.
Describe each track in two words
How Does It Feel? – invisible people
The Love in Your Eyes – mother dementia
Gone – friend nostalgia
Autumn Blues – autumn blues
Night Train – life journey
Let Go – love lost
It Doesn’t Matter – self motivation
9 to 5 (Barely Alive) – modern alienation
Let It Rain – loving pain
Going Away – feeling good
What was the writing process like?
As usual, it was a long process, I usually start with something that excites me, some cool chord progression, groove or melody, then I record a demo track, and then I “live with it” for a while, could be a week or two, up to a month. If it still excites me, it generally means that by listening to it, I have had many ideas coming in my head: extended part, bridge, counterpoint melodies, sound ideas, etc. Words come after, usually I have some “word sounds” in my head coming with the melody, something that I’m humming along, and then I start to write lyrics around these “pivot” words that match the feeling I’m after.
This album was written and recorded in the span of a couple of years really. I just finished putting the final touches to it this winter, but it’s been a long time in the making.
What was the recording process like?
I record everything in my home studio. As I said I usually start with a scratch demo that I listen to for a while, then I record the base tracks, rhythm guitars or keyboards, bass and simple drums. From there, I try many things to flesh out the arrangement, I can spend a few evenings finding just one synth sound that I like, I try various parts with various sounds, I usually record vocals at the end, because I like to hear the full arrangement in my headphones when I do it. Then I work on the mix, sometimes re-track something that I think could be better, tweak and mix and listen and tweak again. For each of these songs I have between 50 and 100 mixes at various stages until I finally get something I’m satisfied with.
What’s the meaning behind the name?
My first EP was called “Infinite”, because it was some kind of grandiose theme about life and death and space and time (!), then the following one was called “Invisible” because it was what I am (and what most unsigned artists are) in the grand scheme of the music industry, it was more a collection of love songs, this one is called “Inward” because it’s more personal and turned within. There is a link between all of these in my mind, which is why they all have similar titles. But “Inward” is really the most personal one, which is why I think the title is fitting.
What’s the message you want to give listeners?
Listen to unsigned music. This is where the true music is. There’s a world of amazing music out there, look around, be curious, listen to all kinds of music. Also: support the unsigned artists. Don’t stream their music for free and think that you are helping, you are not, and they get nothing. Buy their music on their website when available, or on “fair enough” platforms, in decreasing order: Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon.
What else can we expect from you?
As I go along and discover different aspects of the music business, I’m getting more and more worried about the amount of people profiteering from artists while they are left starving with no way to earn a living. The streaming platforms in particular are the worst and I believe it’s time for action to defend artists rights and build a network of ethically minded artists, partners and fans to resist the music monopoly that is killing the unsigned music scene and will ultimately result in a deafening silence.
So, I am networking with many artists peers, and partners (radios, shows, blogs, venues, promoters, labels) and fans to build a new community that is ethically conscious and wants a chance. In the same line that there is “sustainable food and goods” nowadays and people are more and more conscious that their consumer choices have an impact, I think such movement can be put into place with music and unsigned artists should be the drive for this movement, as their very livelihood is at stake. I suspect I will be more and more involved in artists rights advocacy in the future, as I am already involved in promoting unsigned artists.
I will keep doing my own music, of course, I’m still writing and recording, but perhaps in the future I’ll release more singles than albums. We’ll see… But expect to see me being vocal about artists rights and defending the unsigned music as much as I can at every occasion.
Will we see a tour or live shows coming up?
No. I don’t gig. I love recording and producing, but live shows have never been my thing. I guess my model is much more someone like Alan Parsons Project than the Rolling Stones. I love the magic of a studio, I am very much a studio rat. Plus, it would be difficult for me to perform while not showing my face, and as I play all instruments on my albums, I would have to clone myself to do that live, or to find a band. I’ve been in bands in the past, and it’s not an experience I enjoyed too much… In the end, I feel much more a composer/writer/producer than a performer.