INTERVIEW: Illicit Ghost Releases Transcendent Debut Single, Announces NYC Show

When I search for music to add to NXTSTYLE 100 the search at times can take quite a while. It’s not about what will be hot for a second, it’s about finding music with substance that carries an unstoppable feeling. When I came across “Drunk And Alone” by Illicit Ghost it caught my attention instantly and reminded me of those deep 90’s Pop classics that every emo teenager (including myself) loved. You can’t help but feel a certain way as the song, perfect in structure, paints a picture. And to think this is only her debut. Get to know Illicit Ghost.

I read that your debut single “Drunk And Alone” is not necessarily about being drunk. Tell us about the meaning behind the song and why this was the best fit for your introduction as an artist.

Illicit Ghost: It can be about whatever you’d like it to be about. For me, this song is about a search for inner harmony. It’s about learning to be alone and accepting yourself for who you are. This is such an important thing to do, not only for yourself but for the people around you. I want listeners to know they are not alone in whatever they are going through. You need to be strong in this life, and being ok with yourself is the first step to finding peace. When I was young, teachers would always worry that I was too quiet. But guess what? I just hated talking. I still do. I’d rather talk to my microphone. So fucking what. Be who you are. It took me a long time to learn that. 

“Drunk And Alone” has the kind of emotional depth of that reminds me of those classic 90’s Pop songs from Blessed Union of Souls, Natalie Merchant, Shawn Colvin etc. Are you inspired by a particular genre or era?

Illicit Ghost: I cannot get enough of Fiona Apple. She doesn’t sugar coat anything. I live for that. She revs me up. I’m very into Beck too, it’s the kind of music that makes me believe anything is possible. Superorganism’s music is one of the most refreshing things I’ve heard lately. King Krule is definitely a favorite too, great beats and an unparalleled voice.
So you’re a singer, songwriter, and producer. It’s safe to say your the definition of an authentic artist. How important is it for you to be involved in the different aspects of creating your own music? Are there times when it feels right to collab? If so, any artists or producers you’d love to work with?

Illicit Ghost: I couldn’t create my own music any other way. I like to do it all from start to finish. When I’m writing for myself my mind goes into this place where hours pass and it feels like it’s been one minute. The feeling I get from hearing my scratch vocal usually informs my production. It’s therapeutic for me to be with a song from the very beginning to the very end.

I’m extremely lucky to work with my co-producer Elliot Jacobson (Verité, Allie X). He knows exactly what to add or subtract from a demo in order to get a song where it needs to be. I’m truly honored to be working with such a talented producer (and drummer) who understands what I am trying to accomplish as an artist. 

I have a track with Big Data that’s in the works. It’d be a dream to work with Son LuxDjemba DjembaLana Del ReyKing KruleSuzi Wu or Paramore.

Something that separates you from the rest of the pack and gives us a glimpse of your skills as a musician is the incorporation of the violin. It doesn’t have an overly dominant presence in “Drunk And Alone” it just blends in perfectly with the rest of the elements of the song. Do you consider this a signature element of your music? Illicit Ghost: Yes! I love manipulating the violin to make it sound like it shouldn’t. It makes me really happy because for so many years I played classical violin and it bored me. I just wanted to make my own music not play someone else’s. It’s fun to be able to do the exact opposite of everything I learned. But I’m grateful I learned – it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. So if you’re still in school and sitting in orchestra or band or whatever and you’re bored out of your mind, keep playing and keep learning. It’s important to know the basics – you can take it or leave it later. In less than a week you’ve quickly gained the attention of many blogs and music fans. That’s never an easy task for a new artist. What does it feel like to have your first piece of work gain such a positive response? Ultimately, What do you hope people take from your music and you as an artist? Illicit Ghost: I haven’t really processed it yet. I’m beyond grateful for all of the support. But at the end of the day it’s not about me. It’s about the music and people connecting to it. Maybe my song will inspire hope or make someone’s day better. That’s what it’s all about. Music has been extremely helpful to me in that way and I hope I can give back the same.

We gotta know what songs are rockin’ Illicit Ghosts’ world right now. Give us your Top 10!

With your debut single now released, what can we expect next from Illicit Ghost?
Illicit Ghost: More releases! I’ll be releasing my second single close to Halloween. I’m also playing a show on October 24 in NYC at Coney Island Baby. Come out and say hi, I don’t bite but I might disappear. 👻

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