Derek Walborn speaks with ReGen on the development of Ghostfeeder’s audio and visual aesthetic over the years, culminating in the band’s latest album on Distortion Productions, World Fameless.
An InterView with Derek Walborn of Ghostfeeder
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
You’ve signed with Distortion Productions for World Fameless, while your last album, The Messenger was with Beyond Therapy Records. Having worked with two prominent artist-run independent labels, what are your thoughts on how they and others like them represent a new and working business model for the music industry?
What sorts of changes do you foresee happening – or would like to see happen – in the way music will find new ways for distribution/marketing in the future?
You’ve stated that World Fameless was ‘constructed with the intention of making an immediately accessible, in-your-face collection of punchy, powerful songs,’ as a result of your experiences on tour with En Esch. Can you elaborate on those experiences and how they shaped your outlook on writing the new material?
Walborn: The thrill and immediacy of playing every night shaped my writing for this album because I asked myself, ‘what would be fun to play?’ and also ‘what would be fun for other people to watch me play?’ I love big, introspective, sprawling songs that you can sink into like an ocean, but when you are in the early stages of creating an audience, I think it’s important to announce your presence concisely and directly. I want to go onstage, have every song be a punch in the face, and get the job done with little to no downtime so people don’t know what hit them. I don’t want there to be points in my performances where the audience says, ‘ok, I know where this is going and it’s going to take a while to get there. Time for a bathroom/bar break.’
I have a handful of songs that I am very happy with, but that just don’t translate well to live performances. I think every artist has that issue. With World Fameless, I just wanted to try my best to minimize the struggle of taking a song with 40 or more tracks off an album and turning it into something that one or two people could perform and perform well. I wanted to make songs that could jump off of the album and onto the stage.
There is a notion that since sales of music are lower than they once were, a band truly survives only by playing live. What are your thoughts on this based on your recent tour?
All of your releases up to now have been shorter EP releases – what are your thoughts on the album format as it relates to Ghostfeeder?
Walborn: Ghostfeeder’s past releases were all EPs, because A: I don’t want to sit on songs for too long before I put them out there, and B: people are more interested in singles and quick fixes in their music these days as opposed to sitting down with a pair of headphones and allowing an artist to have their undivided attention for 45 minutes. I think it’s a bummer as I love getting lost in a well crafted collection of songs, but I’m not going to try to bend reality to my whims. World Fameless was a longer release mostly because I simply had the material to fill it, but I also wanted to make something a little more substantial for a release on Distortion, as the profile would be a little higher this time around. It all worked out for the best in the end.
Electronic influences seem to be more prevalent than ever in music – what are your thoughts on the way audiences have come to accept or appreciate the role that technology plays in helping artists to bring their music, no matter what the genre, to them?
What do you see or would like to see as the next step in the evolution of technology – not just in music, but overall – and why?
Walborn: Virtual reality is only going to get more and more advanced, and I think that’s really interesting. People have been saying this for decades, but I feel as though we have finally reached a point where we can really see where the future of entertainment is headed. I feel like we are setting ourselves up for a future where people can just get lost in a virtual life of their choosing, which is a little frightening when you consider whether or not reality actually exists or is just the sum of our sensory perceptions. With that, I will move on to the next question before I start sounding like Morpheus.
As a musician, what do you find to be the major challenge in keeping up with new developments in music, technology, etc.?
Regarding Ghostfeeder’s visuals, I’ve noticed that the band seems to stick with a particular color scheme, both in the album artwork and the videos you’ve done. What can you tell us about the imagery and how it translates to the music?
Walborn: I think that establishing a brand is really important. A lot of people tend to lose focus on this aspect of being a musician because, to them, it feels like some sort of corporate, capitalist notion handed down from ‘the man.’ The reality is you need to focus your creative energy on what you are just as much as what you sound like. All of your favorite bands have done this, and that’s probably why you enjoy them so much. As far as how the imagery ties into the music, I have always enjoyed the harshness that can sizzle out of a lot of electronic sounds; all the weird little glitches and buzzes that come with technology being pushed to its limit, or going off the rails in some way. A lot of that ends up in my music. I think that the visual aspects of Ghostfeeder are really just me approaching the artwork in the same way. I try to make what you see complement the audio to provide as seamless an experience as I can. Luke Dangler did the artwork for World Fameless, and I think he did a great job. We did a lot of idea hashing ideas back and forth and I think he really nailed the kind of feeling I was going for, visually.
What can you tell us about how you’d like to develop this side of Ghostfeeder?
Walborn: I can really just apply the same two words that I have applied to this project since its inception: ‘More’ and ‘Better.’ I am never content to sit back and watch things just happen. I am constantly tinkering with everything. How can I make this song better live? How can I build a more efficient computer stand that is easier to get on and off the stage? How can I enhance this light show? How can this artwork be better? It’s maddening, but it’s definitely satisfying to feel yourself grow. As a perfectionist, the satisfaction doesn’t last long, however. I think I will live my entire life constantly chasing it.
What’s next for Ghostfeeder?
Walborn: I always have new music cooking on the backburner and I am always looking to make more videos, play more shows, and do whatever it takes to get the name out there into the world; basically, ‘More’ and ‘Better.’
Photography courtesy of Ghostfeeder