Recognised for his brooding lyricism and a deep, enigmatic and at times world-weary voice, GHOSTPOET (Obaro Ejimiwe) has returned with his fourth album, Dark Days + Canapés. So far, each album has documented Ejimiwe’s impressive musical progression and his ability to transcend genres and styles. Dark Days + Canapés is no exception. What with foreboding piano keys and melancholy strings that are occasionally confronted by funky guitars and basslines, Ghostpoet’s sound is as unique and cool as ever.
The climactic electronic rhythms of his Mercury nominated Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam are evident within the alt-rock landscape. Freakshow is a catchy and upbeat surprise amongst hauntingly beautiful tracks such as (We’re) Dominoes and Karoshi. Ejimiwe continues to deliver brutally sharp observations and honest reflections, as wider social issues take centre stage in this poetic consideration of what it means to be human in a baffling and uncertain world. His lyrics are sung-spoken in a rumbling voice that woefully asks unanswerable questions: “And we’re fighting for what?/Bloodshed and winning for what?”
The cavernous space of Invisible Wind Factory will be the perfect setting to hear these heavy tracks live. Ahead of his performance on Wednesday 25th October, I fired a few questions at the noble Ghostpoet in the midst of working on his new radio station in Margate.
I read that improvisation and experimentalism were embraced in the studio for this album. What made you decide to work in this way and how do you find this process?
I always do, but I did it with somebody else this time round in the form of a producer, Leo Abrahams. I like to do that with every record. Some stuff survives, some stuff doesn’t. It’s something I like to do, because happy accidents are always good to get into your music, you know? I don’t really set any rules to what I’m trying to make. Experimentation feels like a natural thing to do. It’s in the moment that ideas come about and it’s about having an environment which feels comfortable to try stuff out. A lot of it is guttural, if that’s the right word: whatever just feels right in my gut.
Would you say that’s when you make your best work?
Not necessarily my best work, but it’s what I feel is the best way to go about making my own music.
The album captures a sense of unease and anxiety felt by so many in recent times. What made you decide to approach this with your music?
I don’t know about anxiety, but I just try to capture the moment. It’s like I mentioned, I want to try and capture the times. I’ve always written like that. I’ve always tried to in any way write in the moment, and the current moment for me and I feel many others is an unease. A current unease, really, and you can’t really put your finger on it to a certain extent, this feeling in the air, and that’s what I wanted to capture.
Is music a way for you to process the present, whether you are making it or listening to it?
Yeh, definitely, definitely! It’s like an output for my own feelings and emotions that I come across on a regular basis, and from other people. It’s definitely a gateway to talk about current affairs and various feelings and observations.
Immigrant Boogie is written in first person perspective of a man seeking refuge with his family travelling by boat. How did you go about writing these storytelling lyrics?
I’ve made music from different perspectives before and I just wanted to write a song that was quite immediate, talking about an issue that, even if you’re not connected to it, you are aware of it. It just felt right to write about the migration crisis that is affecting a lot of nations in some shape or form. It felt like the right thing to do.
You’re very much involved with the creative community of Margate and are starting an online broadcasting platform. How did that come about and what is the end goal?
It’s not on air yet, but hopefully it will be by next month. I moved to Margate and in the process of moving here I was researching what was going on down here, and I felt like an online radio station of some sort could be pretty cool to try. It will feature a mixture of art and radio, and there wasn’t really anything like that here, so I thought if the opportunity came up to give it a go, then I would! The end goal is to have a station covering the things I’ve just mentioned, that is a part of the Margate community, and is able to attract various creatives and cultural figures, who perform or discuss or take part in the station in some shape or form. That’s the end goal. It’s going to be situated in a cafe bar that I’ve created, so it’ll be radio station/cafe bar, with a small performance area. It’s kind of an experiment, so we’ll see how it goes!
What’s been your experience of moving from London to a smaller, quieter seaside town?
It’s been great, I’m by the sea! And I was tired of city living and I’ve lived in a city for most of my life. I felt like it was time for a change, so here I am!
Do you think this will cause a change in your work?
I don’t know, maybe! I have been thinking about it. I’ve written little pieces and I think in terms of my own stuff, I’m not sure… we’ll see.
What artists are you currently listening to?
I’m listening to a lady called Eera, who’s supporting me on my tour so she’ll be playing in Liverpool with me. A gentleman called Skinny Pelembe, who’s quite interesting, and he’s connected to Browns Recording which was my first label. I’m currently really interested in a band called DUDS. They kind of remind me of Gang of Four, and I really love Gang of Four.
Lastly, how do you hope listeners will respond to and treat Dark Days + Canapés?
*laughs* What I hope doesn’t matter! Once it’s out there in the public it can be perceived and interpreted however the listener wishes. All I hope is for people to listen. Once it’s in their ears or in their hands so to speak, it’s down to them. It’s not something I fret over.
Ghostpoet is performing at Invisible Wind Factory on Wednesday 25th October. Dark Days + Canapés is out now via PIAS Recordings.