Uncover the haunting Amanda Ghost
Amanda Ghost is on the move. Ive got the feeling most of America still hasnt been let in on this little secret, so Im going to uncover the haunting of Amanda Ghost for you.
Where are you moving to?
Right in the middle of it all, huh?
Yes. Im heading for the stars. (laughs)
How has life changed since the record release?
It hasnt changed much really. There is still a lot of hard work, but the weird thing is when people know me. They walk up to you and are like, Hi, are you Amanda Ghost? Its odd, but very good.
How did you get discovered?
It was a hard, hard journey. My music isnt easily defined, and when Im asked how to describe it, I really cant. So it was really hard for me to get a record deal. Everyone is confused; they dont know what I am. Its, Is she Alanis? Is she Portishead? Is she Whitney Houston? And I always thought that was a good thing because it made me an individual like no one else. Unfortunately, this industry is getting more and more homogenized. Everyone sounds the same, the music sounds the same, and the groups even look the same. I on the other hand stick out like a sore thumb, so I was a risk. So I was looking for a deal for about three years. It happened by chance. I made all the rounds to record labels and met all the heads. But there is A&R, which are the guys who sign the artists. I call them Um&R because they are always Umm. Should we sign her? I kind of did those rounds for a few years. So one day there was this legendary guy at Warner Brothers who saw my name, and then took a listen to my album, called my manager, and offered me a record deal. Within the space of a few weeks after he offered me a deal, I had six labels offering me a deal, which is typical of this industry. They are like sheep. They hunt in packs. Its really sad, because if a hundred people say its good, then everyone figures it must be. Its the big rock n roll swindle.
Were those songs on the demo the same as those on the album?
Yeah. I think its funny now when people say who and what I borrow from, because you cant win.
I was surprised by the fact you had real dance tracks on it because a lot of labels seem to shy away from that.
Especially in America. I have to thank Madonna for bringing that into the mainstream. Dance music is very progressive and is probably the most progressive music to come out in the last five years or so since grunge. People dismiss it because it was originally music for people with their tops off, high on ecstasy. Now the computer has changed music so much, but also the lyrics have always been very banal and that has changed as well. I wanted to take intelligent lyrics and songs that could be played on guitar and fuck about with them and make them sound fresh.
I think it was the press and the music industry that screwed dance music. I mean, a few years ago they made such a big deal about electronica, techno, or whatever you want to call it, and then it just went bust.
I know. The press is full of shit. I think the problem is that the press needs to pigeonhole things and I dont think that is any good. I listen to music that is thirty years old.
All I listen to is stuff from the 60s. That was really great, intelligent pop, not the crap we hear today from the Backstreet Boys or NSYNC. I think music is cyclical, so its coming back. If you look at pop before the 60s, it was Frank Sinatra and was pretty cheesy.
It was a lot of session writers, and they just sold their songs to artists.
Yeah. But the one big difference is back in the 50s they could actually sing. (laughs)
When did you get into the idea that you could be an artist?
Ive always wanted to be an artist. Its just a hard thing to do. I come from a working class family, so its hard to tell your parents that. [My father] wanted me to become a lawyer and get an education. I went to college and got a degree in journalism. At night I worked in a club to pay for college. And it was at that time that I realized music is what I really wanted to do. People used to always tell me I didnt sound like anyone else, but it came to a point where I said to myself, You know what? Im really good at this. The problem is that its a very American value where you believe if you work hard enough you can get anything you want. I blame that ethic on Britney Spears. (laughs) All these pop artists have some talent, but I dont call them talented singers or artists. Their talent is sheer determination and hard work. I look at these artists and their dance routines and the grueling schedules. I think its because they were five and watched Madonna and shed say, If you work hard you will get there. So I really guess I blame Madonna. I say, if you arent really a talented musician, then be a lawyer. (laughs)
I think the great artists are those who do it because they love music, not because they want the fame.
I know. I don’t care for all that slick polishing and marketing. I want to see raw talent. I want to walk into a room and see someone sing or play and really move me without the aid of pyrotechnics and gimmicks. I want to see music stripped down again. I love techno though. I think its really clever and that a sampler is an instrument too. I think someone like Liam Hewlett is a virtuoso with a sampler. Ive been privileged enough to see him work. Hes a genius.
The thing about techno is that a lot of the time that music doesnt offer a melody as easy as say a guitar does. And it takes a whole other skill to write to that, especially when they dont have many people to look up to for examples.
Exactly. Having the gift to write a melody is a fragile thing. One of my idols is Prince. I think people have a danger of disappearing up their own ass. And what makes him different from Madonna is that she is a social sponge. She keeps her ear to the ground and absorbs everything, and I think someone like Prince could learn from that.
Prince became so huge that it seemed the thing he tried to avoid, which was getting absorbed by his stardom, ended up being the thing that hurt him most.
Exactly. He was a product of what he didnt want to be.
Now no one can relate to him.
You have to give it to him though. He had talent.
Totally. His first few albums are some of the best of their kind.
I always wonder though, what is talent? Is it that little spark? I mean, what does it take to be a star? Today I don’t think we have any stars.
We don’t. What happened to the bands that were themselves while being the gods? Like the Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zepplin. Average guys who were larger than life.
I know. They could come out in jeans and just blow you away. They didn’t need big marketing budgets, promotions with McDonalds.
They didnt need a publicist telling us they are the people we should idolize or that they were the next big thing. Their music told us all we needed to know.
Everyone always tells me Im going to be the next big thing and what Im going to do about that. I say I dont want anyone to hear Im going to be the supposed next big thing. I want people to discover me for themselves. Im not going to tell you to buy my record. If you like it, discover it for yourself. I like discovering music for myself. That is the wonder of music and always has been. The shame about radio and tv is they arent willing to take the same risks anymore.
There are no risks anymore.
We as consumers have the power to make the change.
But the problem is that consumers are sending the message that is killing music. I mean, they buy two million NSYNC albums in a week and that tells the industry that they need to make more of these pop bands because the demand is bigger than the supply. Its killing music.
(laughs) When you hear a station that is playing those bands, I bet you switch off.
Actually I avoid those stations altogether.
Me too. I dont buy this crap that thirteen-year-old girls only want NSYNC. Its what theyve been fed.
I blame Mtv.
They dont even play videos. Its all Road Rules and these boring artists on there talking.
I cant even stand to listen to these guys talk half the time. I mean, how can they talk about songs they didnt write? But it sells ads for Mtv so its a smart business move. I guess for the same reason we mix the boy bands in with the rock, so I guess we are just as guilty as anyone else.
There will be a real shakeup.
I just hope the next musical revolution doesn’t go undiscovered.
I think the revolution will be televised.
+ charlie craine