Ghostnaut, or Steve, is one of those people who perfectly blend hip hop, jazz and soul - just the right recipe that makes me fall in love with music.
A little about him - French native, Montreal based at the moment, he's a producer and a multi-instrumentalist, inspired by The Golden Era of hip hop. His music is "condensed with languorous and syrupy moods, a hip-hop tinged with a high soul", as he stated on his Facebook page.
We got to talk about his latest collabs, about jazz, hip hop and music in general. He created a gorgeous mix, full of his (and mine already) favourite tracks, so tune in, while reading.
01. Inscience - 180g
02. Glimlip x Glasper feat. Soulfood horns - Katana
03. Casteluzzo - Night Time Blues
04. L'indecis - Like Someone in Love
05. Le Makizar - Racines
06. The Globetroddas - Love
07. Kid Abstrakt - Jazz & Coffee, pt4
08. Ghostnaut feat. Raw Collective - Sleeping Giants
09. Thundercat - Them Changes
10. Raw Collective - Self Part (01)
11. Ezra Collective - Space is the place
12. Hawk House - Tidal Tendencies
13. Ghostnaut - Unreleased
14. Eric Lau - Can I get a witness
How have you been lately, Steve?
Pretty good man. Just been wrapping up a few collabs lately closing the year so busy doing music and enjoying the Autumn season in Montreal. :)
Gotta ask - what's the deal with the name "Ghostnaut"? Any story behind it or just sounds cool? (gotta say, it DOES sound damn cool!)
Haha, glad you like it! Well, it comes from music theory... I did not go too far to find it, it is from the term 'Ghost note', I just replaced the end with some cool spelling. And if you don't know what a ghost note is - it's used in with many instruments, ghost notes are the very soft notes played between the main notes, they have a rhythmic value but no discernible pitch when played. It is used a lot by drummers too to make the stuff groove! :)
Last track we had from you was... just wow! "Delight" featured quite a bunch of artist, plus blended so many elements from hip hop, boom bap, cuts, jazz, soul. Tell us more about how it came to live.
Thanks! Well it was pretty straight forward. I met Blazino during a loopsession beatmaking event. He is a young promising producer from Montreal, so we just connected on a sunday afternoon at my place where my studio is and we made this joint... Originally I wanted to make a tribute to J Dilla so I had made these drums heavily inspired from his style and when Blazino came over, he liked the rythm so we added guitar, then bass, then I scratched some cuts, keys, etc... It came quite naturally.
And for the emcees I had already worked with Raashan Ahmad in the past so it was easy to ask him, Ozay Moore was introduced to me via the Mellow Orange label family. Moira Jean the female singer on the chorus is a friend from New-Zealand and she's also part of the band Raw Collective, Moira is amazing she has a unique voice, really soulful. And regarding Raw Collective I played with them in 2018, doing a little tour so they're all homies!
How important is classic hip hop for you? You started your career with In Dreams, then Sideways with Dualib followed, plus several tracks and an album with Raw Collective (loving "Sleeping Giants" btw). But you also do some chillhop. What do you think about that flourishing genre?
It is important to stay true to the culture so classic hip hop is important to me but at the same time I feel it's good to experiment too, not to stay locked in a particular genre. And like most of the people I know who are producing, I am also heavily influenced by what I am listening to... And the range is wide, from traditional hip hop to jazz via neo-soul-ish vibes, afrobeat & Funk, some smooth trap sometimes... Everything that would make move me musically.
To answer your question, the chillhop sub genre is interesting to me as it combines a lot of styles that I like, some of them call it Lo-Fi but it's not always Lo-Fi to my ears and you can find some pretty dope grooves in these tracks which is quite inspiring if you like jazz and hip hop. I also like the fact that lots of producer I know doing chillhop style tracks play instruments so they spent some time on their craft to create these soundscapes so I enjoy the work even more. And when I do some, l'Il try to collab with people I could exchange knowledge with and learn from... Which always makes you progress as a producer.
L’indecis is one of the artists who you work with often lately. How did you guys started doing tracks together?
L'indecis first did a remix for me on the album From Montreal To Welly and I think that's the first time we got in touch. After that I asked him about the track "Voyage" if he would be keen adding his touch to it and he added that smooth guitar on it, It was dope working with him and Kid Abstrakt on that joint, really good combination.
Then we stayed in touch after that as he told me he was thinking about doing a road trip to Canada and he actually did it! So when he came over he did a gig with me and a bunch of producers friends in Montreal, he was living the life like a real Quebecois man, not sure he got the accent when he left though, maybe his girlfriend did, I can't remember... :) More seriously, it was dope that before he left we managed to spend some time in the lab and make that "Boreal" track together, he's a really dope producer, very humble and just a nice guy to hang out with.
Any collaborator you particularly felt connected with? When making music felt like magic.
Producing with my friends from New-Zealand was an amazing experience as when we did the Montreal From Welly album, we had so many tracks to finish in a short time so we needed some kind of magic to make it happen. Plus the fact that every musician of the band was not only playing with Raw Collective at the time (but gigging around the country) so we had to have all the stars aligned in the good direction to wrap that project up. I would also say that making a track in the lab with l'indecis was neat, some dope vibes and it came out really naturally.
I see you've included Ezra Collective in the mix - they're absolutely a personal favorite. How would you describe the relationship between jazz & hip hop?
Really close, Jazz and Hip Hop are brothers to me. As looking at the history of hip hop and the sampling culture if jazz did not exist we would have missed a lot of classics in Hip Hop. Also what is great nowadays is that the young generations of jazz musicians are including hip hop in their music language, so you get some interesting music quite diverse and inspiring, thinking of BADBADNOTGOOD, Ezra Collective, Kiefer, etc.
Lots of music creators nowadays don't play an instrument, it's all digitally produced/sample based. Do you play something? What do you think about that phenomenon?
I play keys as my main instrument, I also do some scratch and a bit of drums and guitar... I don't mind producers not playing instruments as I think music is personal in the way you make it and some producers can do some magic just in the way they would flip a sample and add layers to it... So really for me it's how you master your craft...
But there are also actual producers who are great music players. You mentioned Chillhop music earlier, a lot of artists from this type of music are good musicians so I think it's quite diverse overall and that's what makes the beat-making/producers scene interesting.
How are streaming platforms changing the industry, from your point of view?
I would say that the music becomes easily accessible to the world and with the social media platforms there are great ways to become exposed for an artist. You can basically make a music project and have it released to the world in a few days by yourself... The downside is the way the artists get paid for their work as there are still improvements to be done... But at the same time the industry is constantly on the move so hopefully it will get better in in the future. It's also important to not get sucked too much into social media these days and always do it for the art first: the music.
Anything that you'd like to add?
Hope you'll liked that little mix I cooked for you with some artists and friends I listen to these days. Also keep an eye out towards the end of year as I will be putting together a little vinyl project with my 2019 tracks including 2 new collabs that will be dropping soon! Peace out guys!