The Ghost of Brooklyn is an animated corpse raised for musical purposes. Cursed with authenticity and tremendous songwriting talent, his raw punchy sound will haunt you. With one foot still in the grave, The Ghost of Brooklyn is a real ghost from Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Not the scary nighttime variety, but a friendly daytime ghost that meditates, plays guitar and prowls the city streets in search of good vegan food. At night, instead of boozing, whoring and scaring the crap out of people he heads to the graveyard to write songs.
Entertwine: Could you tell us about your relationship with Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn? What can you tell us about the time you spend there honoring your friend (Jean-Michel Basquiat)? What led you to begin expressing yourself and your story through music?
Sure. Firstly, Green-Wood is one of the most beautiful spaces in all of Brooklyn. Lots of natural beauty here: we still have owls & hawks flying overhead. People are dieing to get in! In recent years I’ve been buried twice at Green-Wood. Two different bodies that is. Moreover, our bodies are temporary phenomena but our ‘spirits’ are infinite; we’ve all been around since the beginning of time but for some reason people get stuck in their current experience, and with it, lose memory of previous lives. Ghosts are different. Though our bodies may die our memories are preserved forever. We can even project forward in time. I’m not in the business of speaking for others but since you asked I will say that Jean-Michel is alive and well, and still expressing himself through his art. For me it’s all about the music. I communicate through my stories.
How would you describe the songs you write to someone who has never heard your music before? You’ve also written children’s songs, correct?
I’m an old soul so my music is a hybrid of past & present varieties – even future. I currently like folk music, rock and country, though I’ve lived through periods where there were none of those things. Whether it was classical or tribal, percussive or melodic types of music I’ve played it all. Most importantly I think of myself as a storyteller, not a musician. Young people are very receptive to lyrics hence the batch of children’s music I wrote. Kids are a great audience.
Could you tell us about the recording process you employ to capture the songs you write?
Sure. Some people like to write songs as a group. I write alone. I’m a lone ghost. Once I have a song in my head, I’ll use a lot of high tech gadgetry to capture it. Everything I record is live. No overdubs, no computer punch-ins, no software edits; just a straight live mix. It’s the same setup live as it is in the studio. No difference. I use a Boss RC300 loop station, a pair of stage microphones and a small mixing board. I have a 2003 Gibson electric guitar and a 1950s parlor acoustic. That’s really it. I use one of those digital recorders at the end of the signal chain, and that’s what my audience hears. Put a video camera in front of it and that’s what they see as well.
What was it like performing at the legendary Sidewalk Cafe in New York City this past Halloween? Have you played a number of other venues within New York City?
Hands down, Sidewalk Café has some of the best wasabi mashed potatoes and corn bread in town. For this vegan, it’s a no brainer: great food, legendary sound, and no harm done to animals. Couple that with a real ghost performing on Halloween and it was a win-win situation. I love New York City. I’m a city ghost. I spend a lot of time roaming Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, and the East Village. I’ll be playing more NYC venues in the coming months, possibly an east coast tour as well, and I’ll be releasing all of those recordings on Youtube as I capture them.
You’ve released a number of songs in the past year and have also put out a full-length live album; how have you been able to remain so consistent with your writing? What does the rest of 2015 hold in store for The Ghost of Brooklyn?
Thanks for asking that. Being a ghost and all I have the unique advantage of not needing to sleep at night. So that’s an extra 8 hours per day for my music. The biggest challenge for me is repeating myself. For example, once I write, perform and record a batch of songs I almost immediately start writing another batch. So at the end of the day I have to many half-cooked songs and too little time. But then again I don’t write songs all year round. Most of my time I spend meditating in the graveyard. The human mind is a tricky thing. You might say it has a mind of its own. The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to work with our mind and discover inner peace. From there it’s all down hill.