A couple of weeks ago I saw a show and it sort of changed my life. I was at the Doug Fir in Portland, OR with Waxhatachee (another crush-worthy band) headlining. The Ghost Ease took to the stage right before that and completely shattered my world. They’re a band of rock ‘n rollers making that true, connected, introspective music that we seek out in our nostalgic artifacts of rock ‘n roll pasts—like that important cassette tape your babysitter played in her car, when you were just this kid who wanted to feel that teenage fury.
The Ghost Ease singer/guitarist Jem Marie, bassist Laurence Vidal, and drummer Nyasi Matingou. My advice for the perfect listening experience requires you to do just a few simple, pleasing things: put on some headphones, lay on your carpet, close your eyes, or stare into the air. The point being that when something is so soft and heavy at once, you have to be near ground while your mind drifts. That’s what it means to know and love The Ghost Ease. And where does your mind go?
The success of their recent Kickstarter campaign will allow them highly-coveted studio time at Sound House Studio in Seattle, exceeded its funding by a ton of people who understood this important moment. The queer trio will be recording their second album with the legendary Steve Fisk—an audio engineer, record producer and musician who’s produced records for Nirvana, Soundgarden, Unwound, Screaming Trees and The Posies, just to name a few. His bond to music runs deep in the Pacific Northwest, where sediments of grunge and punk date back to the ‘80s when record labels like Sub Pop and K Records were king. Maybe when you think of “grunge” you imagine a grinning Kurt Cobain in ripped jeans—I mean, I sure as hell hope so. But before Kurt, there were girl bands kicking ass and he worshipped their raw intentions. So when I think of “grunge” I think of something raw. That also happens to the title of the upcoming album, Raw.
In 2012, Jem’s one-time solo project, a now fully realized band, self-released a cassette tape, which according to their Bandcamp, they recorded during the Mercury retrograde. (Please, don’t ever stop being so cool.) And the songs completely conjure that emotional, high and low frequency, weaving in and out of something thick and supercharged. I love the energy on “Truce.” It makes you want to shake your head about.
Here the band shares all the details about their forthcoming album, Raw, coveted rock concerts they wish they’d had the chance to witness, song covers, holidays, and what to expect next. There’s no doubt they’re grateful for this moment, maybe the biggest moment yet for the band.
AfterEllen: What inspired you to create The Ghost Ease—and how would you describe your sound?
Jem Marie: The motivation behind starting The Ghost Ease was my mother’s passing in 2007. I wanted a way to keep in communication with her. We both shared a love and sensitivity toward music and the emotions that it’s capable of evoking. I felt this was a good way to channel a connection. The project took form in 2010 as my solo project, but it wasn’t until 2012 that it took into a form I was most pleased with. I would describe our sound to be grungy.
AE: Why the name ‘The Ghost Ease’?
JM: I wanted to incorporate “spirit” into the project name and initially thought of Ghosties, but I didn’t want people to think of Pac-Man. I let the name float around in my mind and within minutes The Ghost Ease came to me. I later discovered that there was already a band called Ghosties—ha!
AE: How long has the band consisted of you three, and how did you meet?
JM: Nsayi, Laurence and I have been playing together since August of 2014. Nsayi’s been playing drums in this band with me since July of 2012. I met both of them in 2012 at different times through the same group of people. I had no idea I’d be playing music with either of them, but I’m so glad it turned out that way!
AE: How excited are you at the opportunity to work with Steve Fisk? What are your goals in working with him? How important is your Kickstarter campaign right now in terms of getting that studio time in?
JM: Words couldn’t even begin to describe how excited I feel about this incredible opportunity. Our main goal is to cut a kick-ass record that will travel far and wide. The Kickstarter is going to help us cover the remainder of what we owe for Steve’s time and expertise, the studio time, mastering, and all other expenses to successfully get this new record out there.
AE: What can we except from your second album? Do you have a title yet?
JM: We’re going to title the album Raw. Expect for it to blow you away! There’s a lot of Scorpionic energy in this project, so it’ll be quite intense and plenty shreddy.
AE: What’s your favorite holiday?
JM: Halloween has always been a favorite of mine since my birthday falls two days after it. I guess my birthday is another holiday I enjoy—I’m a fan of the personal new year. Valentine’s Day is also really sweet.
LV: I love Christmas. Everyone is so much nicer during Christmas.
NM: I agree. Christmas is a nice time. Lot’s of family traditions. Though, strangely, I’m also a huge fan of Easter. I was born on Easter. And every few years it falls on my birthday again. Christ aside, I’m really into to the idea of a holiday that celebrates spring, renewal, rebirth and fertility. I like eggs.
AE: Everyone plays a role in the band—beyond the instrument roles—what’s everyone “known” for? Are any of you pranksters, or wear lucky socks at every show, sing in the shower?
JM: We three love to joke around A LOT. Our practices consist of a lot of hard work, but with 20-minute breaks between songs to chat and joke around. It can get pretty ridiculous, actually, but it keeps it fun. Being in a professional band can be physically and mentally demanding, so it’s nice to loosen it up sometimes. After working with Steve Fisk, his accurate take on the band’s roles are: Laurence—Chief Officer; Nsayi—Spiritual Advisor; Jem—Executive Branch.
AE: What kind of music were you listening to as a teenager?
JM: A LOT of Nirvana, The Breeders, sooooo much Queen, Bikini Kill, Lauryn Hill, The Beatles, classical music—things with a heavy feeling.
LV: Nirvana, Prince, The Beatles, Radiohead, and embarrassing folk bands I don’t want to mention.
NM: The Breeders, Cat Power, Yo La Tengo, lots of impressionist and romantic era classical piano pieces, Elliott Smith and lot’s of Portland local bands now defunct.
AE: What songs would you love to cover, if you had the chance to in the future?
JM: Maybe something from the Breeders, or from bands of our friends that I love so much, like Mega Bog or Glass Cake.
LV: If someone threw a hip-hop song at us, I wouldn’t be disappointed…
NM: The Breeders for sure.
AE: What concert would you have loved to be at, but now, because that singer is dead/retired/the band broke up/etc. you simply can’t!
JM: Queen or Nirvana.
LV: The first thing that came to mind for me is Janis Joplin. That seems like it’d be a fun concert.
NM: Al Green.
AE: What’s next for the band? What’s headed your way in 2015?
JM: It’s already looking like a very exciting year for us from here. We’re playing the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho this March, releasing the upcoming record, and touring it along the west coast in the spring. Hopefully we’ll get to hop onto a killer label. We shall see.