Where did you grow up?
We all grew up in Eastbourne, the only one who didn't was Hugh the drummer who's from Lewes. I wouldn't say where we lived has influenced our music in any way, Eastbourne isn't the most inspiring of places musically and we all grew up with quite different music tastes.
What music were you brought up on?
Personally I grew up with lots of pop music from the 70s and 80s which my mum used to have on around the house constantly. When I finally discovered music for myself it was around the same time as picking up the guitar. Everything I wanted to listen to was very guitar heavy so lots of classic rock music most of which would be considered “Dad rock”.
What drives you to write music?
I like the building of a song, seeing a spark of an idea form into something more complex and more than the sum of its parts. It’s a great tool for self-expression, even if you aren’t channelling some deep powerful emotion into your music, your personality hopefully should come across in some way, even with the smallest of parts. Bouncing these idea off of other people is also a really good feeling and playing them live is also more than enough to keep me making music. At the end of all things songs to me are incredibly satisfying to complete, as if we've all just built a house together, but also they satisfy the need for emotional expression as all artists have.
How did the band meet and how was Early Ghost formed?
Karl, Mike, Sam and I all went to the same secondary school but we never played music all together. Mike and Karl had played together a bit as did Sam and I, but nothing serious. Early Ghost was formed in the first year of college which is where we met Hugh. I joined the band on keyboard which I didn't technically know how to play at the time.
Is there a story behind the name?
Well… that's a highly guarded Early Ghosts secret. Not even I know. Only the highest ranking Ghost members hold that nugget of information.
How would you briefly describe the Early Ghost ethos?
I feel we always try to create some sort of atmosphere with the music we make, at least that's always the idea. Early on we were very inspired by the soundtracks of spaghetti western films particularly Ennio Morricone's scores. So that cinematic quality is always in the back of our minds even now we've moved on from that sort of sound.
Has the bands style of music stayed the same?
Early on we were quite folky I suppose and had way too many instruments. At one point I think we had 11 instruments on stage including a marxophone. We had the backbone of the spaghetti western sound mixed with whatever was on our minds at the time, it was sometimes quite inconsistent. Nowadays we've stripped back a lot and focused our sound into something we are all a lot more comfortable with. All of the folky instruments have been retired for the meantime and we are lot more focused on refining the songs we write. We are using a lot more synths and not holding back with a heavier sound. It’s a really exciting time and I feel we are coming into our prime musically. We have all matured as musicians in the last four or so years that we've been together and I hope that comes across.
What are the bands main influences?
The Doors, Kate Bush, Jefferson Airplane, Broadcast, David Bowie, Timber Timbre, The Flaming Lips, Vangelis, Ennio Morricone to name a few. We have quite an eclectic combined musical taste but we always come back to the same artists for inspiration.
How do Early Ghost approach the writing and recording process?
Writing wise, someone will have a seed of an idea usually a riff or something and share it with other members of the band and it will get added on by everyone in some way until it resembles something playable. Someone will then usually make a demo of the general sound, probably shamelessly ripping off another song, and then we start working on it all together in practice until its starts to sound suitably Early Ghosty. When we finally come round to recording its usually quite a quick process physically getting the tracks down as we have hopefully played it to death already on stage. Then Mike will mix it which probably takes the longest amount of time and after that the track is born. It’s quite efficient really.
Do you prefer writing music or recording music?
I really do enjoy both equally. Writing is fun throwing around an idea until it starts to form into something we are excited by and recording is great finally cementing the finished soundscape of what we were trying to achieve.
Are there any new releases in the pipe line?
At the moment we are going to release singles for a bit while we continue to gig as much as possible. I'm sure at some point this year we will start a new ep. It’s a really exciting time at the moment and we are really enjoying crafting a new sort of sound for ourselves which should be nicely realised by the time we commit to something more substantial.
What has been a musical eye-opener?
One enormous event in my musical world was when I first discovered Nirvana. My mum brought home a Nirvana “best of” cd and I remember it being the first time in my life where I was excited by music. Before that I think I was only interested in Star Wars. I think I was about 11 and it was just before I started playing the guitar. It kicked of an obsession with music which I still have to this day. Also when I discovered Kate Bush that was pretty monumental.
What would be your perfect line-up of any 3 acts for a concert and were would it be put on?
I would love to see The Doors, The Flaming Lips and Kate Bush in some order. Preferably somewhere with seating. I hate standing up.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they bring to Early Ghost?
Working with The Flaming Lips would be pretty incredible. They have a freedom about them that we could definitely learn from. They seem to have no inhibitions with the music they make which is probably why they've continued to write music with such an energy.
What has been you happiest memory with music?
The best memory has to be playing on stage when we supported Neutral Milk Hotel in Bexhill. It was the first time I properly had a buzz on stage. The venue was pretty much full and the feeling I had was electric. Such a fun gig.
What are your future plans for the summer and after?
Writing, recording and gigging is all we have planned at the moment. Also some video projects to go alongside the single releases. Lots of fun stuff!
When did you first move to Brighton?
I moved to Brighton about 14 years ago to study. Then stayed hear for an extended amount of time to the point that I never thought I would ever leave as I was involved in lots of different projects and had good relationships with people. It ended up feeling like home.
What music were you brought up on?
My parents are very much into musicals, so I grew up on a diet of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, and a lot of classic American songbook sounds. Having done projects that hint at that kind of influence, I started to move away from it in the past 7 years and got into a lot more experimental stuff. My sisters are very much in to pop music, and my first introduction to that was Madonna. My first solid musical memory is listening to ‘Lucky Star’ when I was about 4 years old. When I was studying a Fine Art course, a lot of the people I was meeting where doing sound art pieces and then I started to listen to artists like Apex Twin and more Leftfield rock music that I had never been exposed to before. My sound started to develop from there really.
What was the first instrument you played?
The first instrument I ever learnt was the trumpet at school, until the lessons weren’t free anymore. There was a little Yamaha keyboard knocking around at home, which is the same keyboard I write songs with now. In between that I picked up the bass which became my main instrument for a long time.
What got you interested electronic production?
In 2007 I first recorded in a proper studio for the first time. The people I was doing it with were very informed which helped widen my knowledge of how to record sounds, and I got even more fascinated at that point about layering up sounds. We used to do things with delay and feedback, screaming into a microphone standing in one corner of the room to the other. Stuff like that I found really exciting and enlightened me to a lot more interesting processes.
What’s the story behind the name Bernholz?
Bernholz is my family’s surname from my great-great grandparents that emigrated from Poland. When my family came to England, my grandfather shortened the surname as a way of assimilating to the English culture. When I was growing up hearing about that, I always wanted to adopt it. It became a symbol of trying to find my own identity again, this was at a point when I became a solo musician for the first time, and I eventually changed my surname to Bernholz when I got married. It became a statement of my own past history, to assert my identity and own legacy.
How would you describe the Bernholz ethos?
I have always liked the idea of knocking out any hierarchies of any particular genre or musical production styles. I see it as an amalgam of a lot of things I love, which comes from pop music’s melodies and lyrics combined with very ambient and abstracted noise elements. It is almost like an engineered marriage of the two things, a very experimental sound but also throwing in snippets of nostalgic pop.
How did art come an aspect of your music?
When I was making sculptures and installations, I was always making temporary things, so there was never any permanence to any of the work. I really like an artist call Gustav Metzger who developed these ideas of auto-destructive art, where you can create something from destroying it. I had always wanted to make an object for the album, not to just have a CD and be done with it. I thought there was a more interesting and sculptural way to release music.
How do you approach making music?
Elizabeth (Gazelle Twin) is my rock, she is the person I always share my ideas with. Chris Griffin and Alex Painter from Anti-Ghost Moon Ray – we are always sharing our music with each other, I find their opinion invaluable. Essentially, I am on my own. A lot of the time I will record stuff quite badly on my phone, a lot of field sounds as well. I spend so much time travelling, I do a lot of my thinking and writing out ideas on the train. Most of the ideas are germinating for a very long time. When I find the time to record the ideas, I improvise them as quick as I can and then I’m left with the basic embryo of the song that I can work on.
Are there any details you can give about any new releases?
I am about two thirds finished on an EP. Hopefully it will be ready for September. I saw this art exhibition where the idea was based around perspective, and I became fascinated about where that originated from. It bought me to the Renaissance period, and how simple their execution of these complicated ideas were. This EP is influenced by the idea of doing really simple minimal things, and to say as much as by using as little as possible.
How has the recent tour with Gazelle Twin been?
It has been nonstop. I have been doing solo Bernholz in support of Gazelle Twin. It has been a learning curve in how Bernholz works live – as it is hard to get across all your ideas when it is just you and synths onstage without relying too much on pre-recorded music. I want to make it more live sounding. It’s easier when you are in a band and you have others to rely on, you can feed off their energy, but when you are on your own it can hit you quite hard that feeling of isolation.
What has been a musical eye-opener?
I started reading a book called Fear Of Music by a journalist called Garry Mulholland, about his favourite albums since punk. There was a period where I assumed I had a broad idea of music but when you read a great music journalist’s work or a great art critic’s work, they introduce you to your own limitations and how to confront them. He writes in such a way that annihilates any ideas, bigotry or prejudice that you’re not even aware of, and why you chose to listen to certain music. He was the first person who introduced me to broadening my perspective, to the point that I started going back to a lot of stuff that I had completely dismissed. Since then it has constantly opened up a whole world of music to me.
What are Bernholz’s main musical influences?
Someone like William Basinski completely shifted how I looked at certain music, how it can be made and the way it is made. He makes tape loops, and did this piece in 2001 called Disintegration Loops. When transferring some old tape recordings from reel to reel onto digital they started destroying themselves, like the tape was being eaten away, and then became something entirely different. The first time I ever heard Steve Reich, I had never really heard anything as minimal but encompassed so many different ideas at one time. Kate Bush and David Bowie are my all-time favourites, the fact that they have always been able to develop their ideas and stay artistically true. Peter Gabriel is another one that has been always pushing the envelope, introducing these weird extraordinary ideas and combining them with incredible melodies that live with you.
Who would you like to work with and what would they add to your music?
Laurie Anderson, because she is such a unique musician, poet, writer who takes complex ideas and strips everything right down. She is incredibly creative with her ideas – her new piece that she is bringing to Brighton is about her dog. She has done some amazing collaborations already with William Burroughs and Peter Gabriel. I can imagine she would be the sort of person that would be quite lovely, generous and open with her time, but would have some sharp and interesting ideas, electronic ideas, and conceptual ideas.
What are your future plans?
For the next two week I will be touring with Gazelle Twin. Hopefully have a week or so off, where I can finish off the EP. I will be performing at the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, doing a one off performance for a late night museum opening. I will be playing the BrightonsFinest Alternative Great Escape show at Latest Music Bar. I am supporting a band called Blancmange in May as well as my own show in Belgium. Later in the year I will be doing lots of touring with Gazelle Twin and hopefully my own EP. I am going to expand Anti-Ghost Moon Ray up to the Midlands, working with art organisations, to make it something that isn’t just isolated to Brighton.
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