Ghösh are raising the bar for exciting acts to follow in 2020. “Nu Junglism. Digital Hardcore.”Whatever you wanna call it, this Philly duo have a fierce and kinetic, living punk energy that is a refreshing mutation of numerous styles into an explosive and vital sound. The tracks on their Bandcamp blew me away with a fresh poetic attack and a DIY vibe of anarchic, creative freedom. Party starting and with something subversive to say. Plus an unexpected take on a Limp Bizkit classic.
I really can’t rave about this group enough. Not many acts can pry me out of my current Entombed, Pink Floyd and Sun Ra rabbit holes, but when it happens of late I am probably listening to these freak flag flyers. Please check out the full convo with Symphony and Zach below.
“We’re here to eat the rich and we kill hipsters, dude”. That is a solid motto. The music scene is full of a lot more talk the talk than walk the walk. Philly seems to have a lot more legit activist types though than some other places. Some of the musicians I know from there are very down for the good fight. How did this awesome project come together?
Zach – We met while working together at a pizza restaurant. Symphony had just moved back to Philly from Hawaii after where she was staying got hit by the volcano. We had just got to know each other as she left, honestly wasn’t sure when or if I’d see her again. When she came back we made plans to jam. I don’t think we really had any idea of what we were going to do, I just knew we both liked nü metal and dance music. I had these beats I had never shown anyone, I was trying to mix jock jams style tracks, with jungle and metal, Symphony loved them and I learned she also had a love for Jungle and Drum n Bass. I always liked that Symphony was comfortable with what kind of music she liked, whether it was cool or not, so I knew working with her I could throw ideas out there and nothing would be shot down. It just allowed us to explore and be comfortable not worrying about being judged. Also, she has a good sense of humor, if you can’t joke around with someone how are you going to be able to make art with them? It’s just going to be awkward.
Symphony: Yeah, we met at the pizza place. The service industry is interesting in the way that it can connect certain kinds of creative delinquents. Philly is a relatively affordable city; people can live here, dedicating the majority of their time to things they actually care about. So, we’re culturally rich even though we’re socio-economically poor. Philly has a longstanding political history and a longstanding music history. It’s cool to honor those traditions in our own music; especially when Philly’s unique landscape was the womb that birthed our friendship. When we first started jamming we weren’t trying to do anything provocative. As corny as it sounds, we’re friends first and bandmates second; we’ve always been just trying to have as much fun as possible.
The songs themselves I have heard have a feeling of chemistry and almost sound like a party during an air raid. You’ve played a lot of shows since forming in 2018. With everyone from Show Me The Body to Machine Girl to Downtown Boys and a lot more. It is fun listening because even with no concerts right now listening to you sort of feels live anyway, haha. How have you navigated the year 2020 so far and the challenges as well as the opportunities to spread social awareness and activism? I know you have been doing some live streams.
Zach – Thanks! We worked hard to translate the energy of our live show into the recordings. 2020 has been pretty wild and continues to be as everyone knows. It’s weird, I have polar feelings at the moment, I feel both worried and optimistic about the future. I’m trying my best to be as clear minded about things, it’s pretty easy to feel like the world is collapsing, and who knows maybe it is, but I don’t want to be gripped by that feeling. I wouldn’t say we were/are a political band in the way that Downtown Boys or Rage Against the Machine are. Symphony’s lyrics usually deal with very personal experiences, even when she’s singing against cops in “Dear Daddy”, she’s talking about her literal father. We were making this music and then the riots and protests came and suddenly it seemed what we were doing had a lot of currency, so we decided to use what little platform we had to raise money for local charities. We ended up raising over $1200 which really blew our minds.
As for the live streams, yes, We are starting our own Twitch channel, so we can perform in some capacity and also explore other types of ways of being creative, it’s a bummer to not be able to go out and perform live but on the other hand it’s cool to be able stream a concert to anybody in the world and connect with them. We also run the studio so it’s not like we have to ask a promoter or whatever we can do it whenever we want.
Symphony: Yeah, thank you! When we first started recording, I was really nervous about losing the energy of the live performance. Performing is my favorite part! I’m stoked people are responding well to the recordings though! When we recorded all of our recent releases, we had just returned from touring with NAH at the beginning of January. We had no clue what was coming, and how significant those releases would be since they’d be the only way people could hear us for a while. 2020 has been wild. There was a bit when we couldn’t see each other in person. But we talked a lot and worked on music separately. When the stay-at-home order was in place, we were actually really productive. Of course this pandemic and our government’s inadequate response to it suck. I can’t help but look on the brightside. The pandemic has been a catalyst for revealing so much of what’s wrong in the United States. I am so here for it all. Like Zach, I’m optimistic but still worried. We’re not going to let fear freak us out. It feels great to be able to contribute anything–awareness, money, resources. Our first livestream went well. We’re hoping that adapting to a new platform allows us to continue doing our thing, even in the face of 2020. We have a lot to say, I’m glad it’s resonating with people during these insane times.
Obviously slam poetry and rap and punk are in the sound but also jungle, industrial, digital hardcore. It is memorable and confrontational, without going pop. And of course you have that Limp Bizkit cover on Soundcloud that is better than the original, haha. ‘Blades of Steel’ is one of my favorites with some rock and big hype elements and ICP/Twisted Sister shouts. Is there anything off limits?
Zach – Better than original? That’s very kind. As for anything being off limits? I’d say no, but it’s not like we’re just throwing random stuff into a blender and drinking whatever slop comes out, it’s all pretty calculated and makes sense to our concept. I think there’s a lot of stuff that’s in common between different genres that might not be immediately perceivable or for social reasons we don’t allow ourselves to make those connections. Ghösh is a play on the french word, gauche, for tacky. We have always been interested in exploring “taste” and Ghösh was initially just a way of us seeing what we could get away with. That being said, I wouldn’t expect a Ghösh country album anytime soon, but you never know?
Symphony: I do think there are some things off limits…we just haven’t gotten there yet. I hate R. Kelly’s music and I hate R. Kelly as an individual. I can safely say we would never cover, sample or reference R. Kelly. Beyond that, we’re all open-minded music superfans. Whenever we meet up, we’re always sharing random stuff. And like Zach said, it’s not like we’re trying to mesh the most bizarre combinations; we’re not digital hardcore Girl Talk or something. We just happen to love a wide variety of music. My all time favorite band is 311; people have always made fun of me for that because I tend to affiliate with punks and cool kid types who want to be the sole dictators over what’s considered acceptable in diy music communities. Zach and I get along because we don’t fuck with that mindset at all. We like fun music, we like aggressive music, we like silly music, heavy music, bizarre music and any intersection or combination of the aforementioned and beyond. So, we’d check anything out once.
Just saying, when Ghösh started, Zach was also playing lap steel in a country band. We haven’t nothing against country, it’s just not the vibe for us (at this moment).
Are there any rituals you do before writing to sort of tap into the energy or rage or confidence you need or does that sort of just come from life experience and is already waiting to be pulled from? I know I sing into my phone a lot if I have sudden inspiration for a lyric or melody.
Zach – It’s always different. Sometimes, I’ll play guitar and riff, often I’ll just open up a blank project on Ableton and just start fiddling with drum patterns or mess around with a sample. I used to get caught up in trying to “make something” every time I sat down, but I’m trying to not be in that mindset anymore, it can be destructive and will leave you frustrated. Instead, I just try and let the ideas flow to wherever they go, just get little ideas or scraps down. Over time these may develop into things or not, but the important thing is to just create. Sometimes I’ll hear a song and an idea will pop into my head and I’ll go and try and create it. I realize that you have to be somewhat flexible with the ideas because whenever you try to actualize it’s always going to come out different, especially when you start adding collaborators. But these divergences from the initial idea are what make it interesting and you have to embrace them, otherwise you’ll be always searching for something that’s not there. Songs have a life of their own, I treat them almost as if they’re alive, when you start getting ideas down, new ideas start pop up, and it’s this constant back and forth. That’s when creating is really exciting.
Symphony: Rituals can be helpful. I sometimes pray to my dead homies before we perform. It helps to connect to something outside of myself to feel like I’m getting the raw party energy and rage all out. Writing just happens. I’ve always kept a couple journals and write down good ideas when I have them. “ACAB even my dad, A.C.A.B. even my daddy” is something I casually said to my siblings just riffing on Thanksgiving, they were like, “that’s good” and I wrote it down and wrote “Dear Daddy” later. There have been times when Zach has sent me a beat that I have difficult time finding the words for. So I try to find energetic inspiration, by imagining the dream vibe for the final product. Then I sort of create like a mini party space where I queue up some tunes that get me in that energetic realm. Creating that space is totally a ritual, I guess.
Any plans for a full length in the works right now? People act like it is a super great time to write but it can also be overwhelming so I think no one should feel pressure either. This is a mentally savage time. But then again we also need the good music and info out there too in this world. I guess do what we all can, ya know? But how about your plans?
Zach – We are working on new music, songs tend to take their own time, but ideally we want to release some more music in 2020 and we’re working hard to do that. We are trying to move away from the idea of an album where you work for like a year on songs and then just drop them all at once, to something that’s more consistent and engages with our listeners more, especially now since we can’t go out and tour.
Symphony: We’re working on new music. And yeah, a full length doesn’t feel appropriate for the times. Ideally, we’d be able to hunker down somewhere outside of the city and create a masterpiece but that’s just not realistic right now.
Ok answer me straight. Did you both get in trouble in school a lot? You seem like mischief makers, haha.
Zach – I have been known to be mischievous, although I also have been pretty good at talking myself out of trouble. I got suspended a couple of times for fights when I was in school, but I ended up ok and going to university. I think if we realize we’re getting the shit end of the stick we’re not afraid to make a little noise. Somewhat recently, we have had some very mild controversies with our sparklers and fog machines. Sometimes it’s better to do something without asking and ask for forgiveness later.
Symphony: I am so flattered by this question because I was such a goodie goodie, but I always wanted to be bad so badly. I was valedictorian, president of the debate team, super straight edge, even played sports, just generally pretty obedient despite the fact that I liked punk and hung out with freaky art kids. Once I moved to New York at 18, I got into some stuff, but even then I was just a “little sister” type to a bunch of graffiti-skate types. I’m glad I seem more mischievous than I am, cause I’m mostly just really goofy.