INTERVIEW TO GALAPAGHOST
Casey Chandler speaks about himself:
I have a bachelor’s degree in Music production (SUNY Purchase, 2005-2009). I hail from the small hippie town of Woodstock, NY. I toured Europe and North America with John Grant for 6 months in 2010, which included a prestigious slot on Later…With Jools Holland. My debut album ‘Runnin’’ was recorded entirely on my own in my bedroom. It was released on January 2012 with Lady Lovely label, a small indie label based out of Italy. I had a successful tour of Italy in January 2012 to promote the album. My songwriting pulls from many different influences from Midlake to Simon and Garfunkel to Neil Young to Espers.
I recorded my 2nd album ‘Dandelion’ in Italy with Ru Catania (Africa Unite, Driving Dead Girl) & Federico Puttilli (Nadar Solo, Levante), which was released October 2013.
I now live in Austin, TX where I continue to write music and play frequent shows. My music was recently featured in a major Italian film called 'Il Ragazzo Invisibile'. It was directed by Oscar winning director Gabriele Salvatores. Salvatores also commissioned me to write a title song for the movie, which was featured on the official soundtrack. The movie has already been released in many countries and has won a David Di Donatello award (the Italian Oscars).
My 3rd album 'I Never Arrived' was released January 9th, 2016.
Full album stream on soundcloud: https://goo.gl/NrMz3S
Bandcamp for $5: https://gpghost.bandcamp.com/album/i-never-arrived
Music Video for 'Science Of Lovers' the first single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wGg29bDOpc
- interview -
Thank you very much, I'm very happy to be the first one featured in your "international underground" section!
2- Why the name Galapaghost?
So I decided on the name Galapaghost because at the time I was reading a Kurt Vonnegut book called 'Galapagos' and was really fascinated by it.
I'm also very fascinated by the Galapagos Islands in general. It's a really astounding place. Most islands at one point were connected to a continent and thousands or millions of years ago broke off, but it's not the case with the Galapagos Islands. It was never connected to a continent, which is why they have all of these incredibly unique creatures that are indigenous only there.
Darwin did some fascinating writing about it. It's one of the most unique places on the planet. I have to go there someday to see how beautiful it is. Anyways, I was just gonna call myself Galapagos, but there were already a couple other groups with that name, so I had to come up with something different.
I was also completely obsessed with this Deer Tick song at the time called 'The Ghost' so after having an "a-ha!" moment, I combined the two and violá, Galapaghost was born!
I think the name suits me well too because I'm kind of a lone wolf musically and do almost everything myself.
3- I've listened to your album thanks to one of my friends, (i don't really know how he knows you) anyway i've really appreciated it, it's a really good album. What do you think about the creation of the album before the production and the release?
Thanks! I'm really glad you enjoyed the album!
So I wrote the entire album alone in Brussels. There are two songs on the album that Federico and I wrote "together" (Mazes In The Sky & Bloom) but that just consisted of him sending me a single guitar line he wrote and me singing on top of it and layering it alone with other stuff.
I typically always write alone and do most of the layering of parts myself as well so that there's a good foundation for the songs when I go to record them, so I can waste as little time as possible.
Of course inevitably there are always some changes made in the studio when I properly record the album. Federico added a lot of brilliant stuff to the album in the studio that I just simply wouldn't have thought of, so I was really happy to have him there to share his ideas and put his own touches on the album, since he has great taste and ALWAYS improved the songs.
The album probably would've been ok without him, but it was his influence that definitely took this album to the next level.
There's really nobody else that I would record an entire album with, but his taste is just perfectly aligned with mine and we really understand each other as friends so we just work incredibly well together.
We both have a very similar mindset when it comes to making music. We both have a similar recording style where we don't obsess over getting the "perfect take" because that's not important to either of us. We record pretty quickly since capturing the "moment" is more important than getting the perfect take.
4- Why have you chosen this title for your album? Where and why will you never arrive?
I chose the title 'I Never Arrived' because I wrote this album while I was living in Brussels and was constantly lost in translation. I didn't know either of the 2 main languages there, French and Dutch. Some of the album is about that struggle.
At times it was very difficult because I had to create an abbreviated version of myself sometimes so that I didn't confuse people. I also wasn't able make any good friends in the time that we lived there, which was hard. So the title refers to me feeling like my full self never truly arrived in Brussels besides to my wife. She was the reason that I moved to Brussels.
My only intention in Brussels was to marry the love of my life and I succeeded, so whatever else I had to deal with there was just a speed bump. We had an intercontinental relationship for a year, since she's Italian and then I just decided to move to Europe to ask her to marry me. We went through a lot together in the 2 years we lived in Brussels and dealt with an unbelievable amount of bureaucratic bullshit and had some terrible roommates.
So at times it was hard, but we also had a lot of wonderful times together there and had a really nice wedding there.
So we always had each other and I feel like what we went through was the true test of a relationship and it only made us stronger in the end.
I didn't want to make "concept album" about my experience in Brussels because it felt a bit too self-absorbed and i just simply didn't have enough to say about the experience so only about half the songs are about my time in Brussels.
I wrote 5 songs about my experience there and they're all very personal, but here's a bunch of songs that are just stories that I wanted to tell. Mazes In The Sky, Science Of Lovers, Salt Lake City, Somewhere, The Secrets Our Body Keeps & Our Place are all just stories.
There are pieces of my life and experiences in there, but they're mostly just ideas and situations that had been floating around my head.
That one is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album and it was actually the first song I wrote for the album, which is why it's first on the album.
That was one of the songs that Federico & I collaborated on. He sent me that guitar part 2 years ago and I just absolutely LOVED it, so I wrote everything around that guitar part. It's such a beautiful guitar part.
The demo version is completely different than the studio version though. It was very layered and just overly complex, so I scrapped almost everything and came up with this cool Farfisa part in about 5 minutes in the studio, the day we were recording vocals.
In the studio we recorded the album at (Maison Musique in Rivoli) they had this AMAZING vintage Farfisa organ from the 1970's that still worked perfectly and sounded beautiful.
I liked it way more than all the synths I had put on the original demo, so I just replaced everything with that part.
That was the song that really put my creativity in motion for this album because the lyrics actually came last for that song. I was far more concerned with "creating a mood" than writing the perfect lyrics. That became my intention for the majority of the album because I'd never done that before so it was a whole new approach to writing for me.
I had always done the typical singer/songwriter approach to songwriting, which was playing some chords and writing the lyrics over them, but I wanted to try something different for this album to make it more cohesive.
I knew I didn't want to do a "concept album" but I did want to create an atmosphere and Mazes In The Sky became the perfect opener for the album because expressed my feelings so well musically. I wanted to create an atmosphere of floating above the world a little bit and not quite feeling like a part of it, but wishing you could.
Mazes In The Sky is just my bird's eye view of life at an arm's length. It's about trying so hard to stay connected to society, but ultimately failing.
6- The second one that I loved too, more than the others, is " science of lovers": could you explain us, which is your science of lovers?
Science Of Lovers is definitely my favorite song off the album because I really love how mysterious and moody it came out. The chord progression, piano, guitar parts, drums and vocals just weaved together perfectly to me at the end.
It was definitely the toughest one to record because everything had to work well together or else it would've fallen apart.
I really had to think as if there was a full band playing on this one because I didn't want one part to overshadow any others.
I also wanted to leave a lot of room for the song to "breathe" because space in songs is incredibly important to me.
Sometimes the silence between the notes is more important than the notes played.
I wrote and played most of the parts, but I think it was Federico's electric guitar parts that really brought out the moodiness. It was also the toughest song to mix for Federico because he spent 16 hours mixing this song!! Once I heard the final version, I knew it was gonna be the first single off the album.
The song is pretty literal.
It's just about all the things we second guess about ourselves when we fall in love.
We worry constantly about what the other person truly feels about us and about all the stupid things we say or do to impress the other person.
We just become very overly critical of our actions when we fall in love.
It's the unmasking of ourselves that's the scariest part of falling in love.
7- If we make a comparison between you and the other texan musicians, how do you differ from them?
Well since I'm not a "true texan" since I wasn't born in Austin and didn't move there until I was 22, I don't think I sound much like any other Texan musicians that I've heard besides Midlake, who are probably my biggest influence still.
They're all from Denton, Texas besides my brother, since he's from Woodstock like me.
There's a ton of great bands in Texas, especially in Austin, but I'd say I'm much more influenced by bands like Espers and this guy Low Roar who's American but now lives in Iceland.
I became obsessed with him while I was living in Brussels and writing my album.
He's probably the most underrated musician in the world in my opinion.
He's only released 2 albums, but they're both STUNNING.
He has a pretty similar style to me and just creates an absolutely beautiful mood for every one of his songs.
8- Anyway is there any main theme in your album?
So I addressed this before in my answer to the 5th question, but the main theme for the album I would say was my struggle in Brussels to stay connected with society, but ultimately failing to do so.
It's also about accepting my failures as a musician and being ok with that because the most important thing is love.
Music is never going to love me back as much as I would like it to.
It's simply just something that I love to do and NEED to do to express myself, but love is far more powerful and sustainable feeling.
Creating music is a really powerful thing, but it's fleeting.
Creativity comes and goes.
Love is constant if you're with the right person.
At first my intention was to write a whole album about my experience in Brussels and I wrote about 10 songs about it, but in the end I scrapped 5 of them because it was just a bit too self-indulgent to write a whole album about it.
The other 5 songs I wrote were more or less just repeating the same ideas and moods as the 5 that made it on to the album.
I just wanted to talk about other things than Brussels, it just became boring to me after writing 5 songs about it so I scrapped the idea of writing a concept album.
I had a bunch of ideas and stories that I wanted to tell that fit into the mood of the album perfectly so I connected to those songs just as much as the ones that I wrote about my experience in Brussels.
9-What are you influenced by?
While I was influenced by a bunch of artists on this album (Low Roar, Midlake, John Grant), I was mainly influenced by this incredible 3,600 book series called My Struggle by the author Karl Ove Knausgaard.
I became completely obsessed with this book and was deeply influenced by it.
Only 4 books have been translated into English so far, but each book I devoured in a week or less while living in Brussels. It's this Norweigan writer that is just brilliant.
My Dad actually turned me onto him after reading a couple of the My Struggle books and he became my favorite writer immediately.
It inspired a deep empathy within me that I carried into my songwriting and a lot of the lyrics.
It helped me greatly in writing about my own struggles.
The books are so profound, yet so simplistic and relatable.
It's all about his daily struggles in life, but at the same time it's about all of our struggles.
I've been anxiously awaiting the 5th volume to come out for almost a year now!
I think I might skip SXSW and just spend a week holed up in my apartment devouring book 5 since that's when it comes out!
10-I've noticed that you've come back to Italy, since I don't know when, anyway do you know that we really love your music here? Do you know anything about our underground music, not properly bands that sing in italian, rather, maybe, italian musicians that sing in english? (I'm pretty sure that you'll find good things)
Yeah I absolutely LOVE Italy.
I'll be happy with my career if I only manage to be successful in Italy.
It's a beautiful country and the crowds are always so kind and considerate whenever I play here.
I don't really care if I make in the US or not because it's just far too difficult to make in the US when you do everything yourself like I do.
It's much easier to do the DIY thing here in Italy and I'm always shocked that I actually have fans here.
I mean I played a show here in Torino on Friday night and almost 80 people showed up!!
People actually listening and applauding!
That has NEVER happened at a single show in the US.
The most people that I've ever gotten to show up for a show in the states is maybe 30 people, but usually way WAY less.
Most of my shows in Austin I'm just playing a private show for my wife and maybe a couple drunks at the bar.
I've never even sold a single CD at a single show in Austin.
I keep playing shows cause I just love playing.
I don't really care if nobody shows up.
I give it my all no matter what but it's nice to play shows here where some people actually give a shit, haha.
Unfortunately, I haven't listened to too much Italian music besides Nadar Solo and Bianco, which are both very good.
Federico and my wife Elisa have turned me on to some other good Italian bands like Mambassa and Subsonica, which I both like.
There does seem to be a very strong indie scene here in Italy which is awesome.
It seems like there's a big push from indie bands here to make big changes in the Italian music scene.
I haven't discovered any bands that sing in English, though.
I imagine that it's gotta be pretty impossible to be an indie band in Italy and sing in English and try to make it in Italy since everything I've heard on the radio and on tv is Italian bands singing in Italian, so maybe it's hopeless for me, but we'll see!
Maybe once my Italian is good enough, I'll write an album in Italian, haha.
Anyways, you should recommend some good Italian bands to me!
Thanks again for asking me to do this interview!
I had a blast writing it!