Warm Ghost on Dreams, Nudity and a New Album

Written by Noah Wunsch on . Posted in Arts & Film, Music, NY Press Exclusive.


We said we’d work on getting the interview and by God we cannot tell a lie! After having discovered Warm Ghost in Kim’s Video Store at 7th Stand 1st Ave, it seems that the circle of life will make it’s cycle with the duo playing the store this Wednesday the 22nd. I’ve since roiled in the moody synth rock of Paul Duncan and Oliver Chapoy (now Duncan and Daniel Lewis). I’ve watched their videos, which feature quite a bit of NSFW content, but couples perfectly the sound backing the visual. I met with Warm Ghost creator Paul Duncan last week to talk about dreams, nudity and A Guest in the Grey Wing.

How did Warm Ghost start?
It started as just me. I used to make solo records, and I got really unhappy with the business side of making music and almost decided I didn’t want to do it anymore—or didn’t want to care about the outcome of the music I made. If I made it, I made it. I started working on this stuff that would end up being Warm Ghost, and I thought I’d just release it as a solo record, but it started becoming really different. It started getting noisy, and had a very different texture than my other stuff. Content-wise, it felt different. It felt like I had moved on. I thought it’d be fun having an alias.

Where’d the alias “Warm Ghost” come from?
I had a dream that I was talking to a friend and in the dream I mentioned the name Warm Ghost to her. In the dream she was like, “That’s great, you should keep it,” and I woke up thinking, oh, that’s not bad.

You ever tell her about the dream?
Yeah I told her about it the next day. She said, “That actually is good.” So it stuck. I also had my head down making the stuff. I wasn’t really paying attention to the fact that there were like five other “Ghost” bands at the time. But I made the record, put it out and figured “alright, now we’re number six.” We made the record playing everything live.

At that point you had another member in the band, Oliver Chapoy. How did the solo artist turn into a duo?
Well it was Oliver Chapoy and I at first. We just recently parted ways. Now it’s me and my friend Daniel. Oliver is great, he just decided he wanted to move on and do some solo stuff. I think it’s rare that two people are going to click creatively in the same room at the same time. I can be pretty controlling about the way I want things and hear things, and I think he wanted a little more control to do his stuff. I started working with him for a little over a year, we played some shows, didn’t tour or anything, did a couple of interviews and made the record together then parted ways.

If you made the record together, and now you’ve split, do you think the sound is going to be different on the next record?

I think it’s going to be different because I want it to be different, y’know? Also, I think that it’ll have a different vibe to it, because obviously our dynamic is different.

So what’s the new dynamic? What kind of music are you producing now?
The first incarnation of the duo still felt like solo music. It still felt like me. And it still sort of does, but Daniel and I verbalize a lot better. It’s more throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks. We have a couple dry erase boards and draw out different ideas and give them a try. Finding your way, working with someone else is hard. The first incarnation still felt like passing files back and forth, which isn’t creatively stimulating. Now it feels much more useful and energetic.

Are you guys working on a new record?
Yeah. A new LP. I’m not sure when it’s going to release. I have three or four songs that I think are really strong and I’m in love with right now.

Do you know what the name of the new album is going to be?
A Guest in the Grey Wing.

Your music videos are fucking weird. But they’re great! It’s one of those things where they start up and I’m like, “What the hell is this?” but as I watch it and listen to how the music is informing the visuals and likewise, it enhances the sound for me. Where do they come from?
I come up with them. I art directed both. “Open the Wormhole,” and “Myths of Rotting Ships,” which are NSFW. Music to me-or my music-is visual first and foremost. Not that I had any idea visually what was going to happen when I made the song, but the two go hand in hand for me. As soon as I get together with a director it’s really stimulating. With the first video [“Open the Wormhole”] I really clicked with the director. We had a great conversation and all these ideas popped up. It didn’t feel like an up hill battle. “Open the Wormhole,” video is supposed to be a feel of rebirth. The song is about coming out of a state of depression and then realizing you’ve helped yourself a little and wishing you could do that for your friends or other people. It was this sort of wishing that you had this noble power. Knowing that you don’t and you can’t do anything about it. But the epiphany that it’d be nice if you could. At least that’s nice.

So we kind of made it pretty literally, but still abstract. A vision of being born and dying over and over again. Meshing the idea of sex and death together, which became the theme of “Myths of Rotting Ships,” too.

That one was much more abstract to me. It’s obvious representation was the demon between two lovers, but I was wondering what the biggest message is.
It’s tongue in cheek. Poking fun at romantic ideas of lust and love. I have a friend who always mentions the Shakespearean quote about how having an orgasm is like dying and I always disagree with it. I just don’t feel that way. It’s these two camp counselors from “Friday the 13th” or something. Stock characters who have died and gone to limbo and find this goddess of death, this harbinger that welcomes them into limbo, brings them back together to be sexual in death. Even though I don’t agree with the idea, I think it’s beautiful. It always interested me, the crossing of boundaries with the human psyche. People getting things confused in an accidentally beautiful way.

The black chorus in back?
They’re the demons minions. The ones who have already been through it.  Teenage princess goths.

Where do you find these people to get naked for you?
I’m lucky I guess. Friends of friends. Friends. This director on the last video, some people he knew and I knew. I’m surrounded by people who are up for making weird shit happen [laughs].

How are the shows going?
Great. Just played Glasslands on the 10th. It might have been the most fun I’ve had on stage. We might have one coming up at Poisson Rouge and another at Knitting Factory. We’ll be playing Kim’s on the 22nd in the East Village. It’s going to be awesome.

Kim’s Video + Music, 124 First Ave.,New York, NY 10009, www.mondokims.com; 6:30 p.m., Free

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