Emerging Artists # 35 – Simian Ghost
April 24, 2012 by Tshepo Mokoena
Simian Ghost are a Swedish three-piece who make wonderfully frank pop music, and have already shown their musical range within the space of one EP and album release. Released last autumn, their ‘Lovelorn’ EP fit snugly into the general chillwave sound of the time, but the band’s sound took an unexpected and pleasant detour towards Peter, Bjorn & John-esque band-led pop on ‘Youth’ (released on Heist & Hit Records on the UK).
We chat to singer, producer and chief songwriter Sebastian Arnström in the weeks before the band’s Camden Crawl performance to find out more on their story.
Standard first question: how did you start up the band, where are you all from and why did you decide to make music together?
I started Simian Ghost myself, then Erik and Mathias joined me as a live band. The three of us have been making music in various other projects for a long time and Simian Ghost seemed like a great thing to do together.
How did decide on your sound/direction, and what was behind the decision?
We wrote and recorded the album during a couple of months this last summer. The initial idea was to make a more electronic album, but when we started playing we realized that doing a more traditional pop album seemed like a funnier thing to do. It just happened that way I guess. Most good things do.
What equipment are you using for recording, and is there any particular reason behind those choices?
Well, we used about three microphones and my laptop, and just tinkered away with our guitars, synths and so on. I guess the main reason we used such a small set up is because we don’t have any money, but I really like to work that way. It pushes you to be creative and you’re always in full control of the work doing it all yourself.
Where was your first show and what was was it like?
We played our first show at Debaser Slussen in Stockholm. I got really drunk and did these ugly-ass dance moves on stage. We recorded it all on video, which I hope will never reach the public eye.
What’s the most high profile show you’ve done and how did it compare?
I guess playing by:Larm Festival in Oslo and Way Out West Festival at home in Göteborg were both a big deal. The Way Out West gig was just awesome – we really enjoyed it and the audience seemed to do so as well. At by:Larm we did two shows, the first was a little slow but the second one was great. Compared to that first gig it was all awesome though.
How do you get around on tour?
It varies. Mostly by train recently. But we’re trying to put together a bigger crew now when we have a little more muscle backing these things.
Which bands/artists are you into at the moment, old or new?
The Beach Boys always. Recently we’ve been listening to creative pop music: Panda Bear, Real Estate, Avi Buffalo, M83, The Flaming Lips, Grizzly Bear and Yo La Tengo for example. And I’ve been listening to electronic music like Shlohmo, Mount Kimbie, Jamie XX and Active Child.
If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
Well, I’d like to get money for what we do!
What can people expect when they come to your live shows?
I think we’re a pretty good live act. They can expect a lot of music, but maybe not so many fancy dance moves. But you never know.