Interview Series: Ghasper.
What is perhaps most intriguing and impressive about Ghasper – and something which becomes immediately apparent when scrolling through his SoundCloud page – is the range of sounds and styles with which he works, blends together, and switches to and from, seemingly effortlessly.
In “Pipa” and “Brand,” two of his most recently released original tracks, Ghasper layers crooning and chirping vocal chops overtop lush and warm synths – which are reminiscent of many of his contemporaries atop the blossoming future game – all carried by punchy drums and a bass line which exudes energy.
In “Lonely Tuesday,” Ghasper maintains an impassioned atmosphere, albeit with a sense of abstraction: the interplay between funky, jazz-inspired melodies, intricate percs, and a heavy future lead, radiates and incites fervor in the listener, and yet the song simultaneously manages to remain the opposite of stagnant or recycled. In fact, that’s what’s most captivating about Ghasper’s releases: you never quite know what to expect.
Gary Clark AKA Ghasper is not exactly new to production; he’s been leaving an imprint on the scene over the course of the past three years now, and has built a sizeable following in that time, having just hit the 3k followers milestone on SoundCloud. However, his recent collaboration with KRNE – the founder of SESSIONS, a self-described “open format label of sorts” through which he’s attempting to work with as many artists as he can from all over the world – has helped to massively expedite Ghasper’s momentum.
Indeed, “Fake Friends” has quickly grown his fanbase to the tune of several hundred followers in the two weeks since the track was released (in what is also a sure sign of imminent and accelerated future growth to come). As of today, the play count on the single sits at over 100,000 – and it’s rising steadily by the day.
Ghasper’s tracks are as uplifting and anthemic as they are melancholic and introspective; rousing, infectious and undeniably catchy, these tunes are sure to have you head-bobbing, toe-tapping, and coming back for more. With a ton of new material in store, this up-and-coming artist is primed to take off and reach unprecedented heights in 2016 and beyond – expect big things from the Las Vegas native.
Plenty of artists nowadays make it big in the scene with little-to-no musical training or experience playing instruments. You’ve spoken about having played violin, guitar, and piano from a young age – how would you say your musical background has helped with and to what extent has it influenced your production?
It definitely helped me with, or at least put me in the direction of, more melodic-type work, as opposed to placing a lot of emphasis on sound design. My sound design is honestly not really anything that special, but I definitely try to focus more on the musical elements than just being a really good producer.
And I think that’s something that doesn’t really get much emphasis in the world of EDM: being a producer and being an artist are two entirely different things. It seems like everyone is producing nowadays – I feel like a lot of them don’t understand that concept yet, but I think it’s something everyone has to learn on their own.
The chillwave-esque project you released back in 2013 is evocative of many of your past stated influences (e.g., M83, Boards of Canada). More recently though, you’ve begun crafting an unmistakably “future” sound, one which has really been popping off recently. What led to that change of musical direction and did anyone in particular inspire you to make the switch?
Honestly, I think it came about when I became better at producing and got more involved, in terms of being increasingly active in seeking out better producers – I started finding people like Ramzoid and medasin, all these crazy kids just doing incredible stuff. At the same time, I was just trying to hone my craft – it gave me something to look at as a goal. You see someone like Ramzoid or medasin and it gives you a really clear sight of where you want to be in terms of production. KRNE too, that guy is just a god in Ableton.
Maybe not musically – I don’t want to emulate them per se – but I definitely see that level of production as a goal, and that’s a really big reason as to why I made that change.
The Internet age has opened up the door to all kinds of opportunities; how have you been able to leverage the online community of both fans and other producers to advance your own music and career?
The Internet is crazy right now; everyone is producing and everything just seems so intimate. The fans, the producers and artists – it seems like it’s all one group now, as opposed to how it was before.
The artists and the fans, as consumers, used to be totally different, but now with the Internet and Twitter in particular, it seems as though everyone is involved with everyone – you could be a photographer, beat-maker, or a fan, it doesn’t matter. It’s definitely become easier to talk to people and get feedback and critique.
SoundCloud is so cool because there’s never really been another platform quite like it in terms of your ability to release something and not worry about it being so official. In the past, you couldn’t just release tracks on a whim, you really had to work at the releases. Just the KRNE thing, or even with UZ, who played a song of mine on BBC radio a while back, stuff like that – it’s really cool, the interconnectedness between everyone.
When KRNE and I released “Fake Friends,” it was just so cool scrolling through the re-posts through my own feed and seeing some of the producers I’ve looked up to for a while re-post that track. It’s really tight how connected everyone is and SoundCloud just seems like such a small world.
What are your short- and long-term plans and ambitions?
For one, I hope to start doing more shows outside of Las Vegas and California. That was definitely a big factor in me deciding to begin producing in the first place – I saw an opening for a way to get into music; I was a guitarist and a pianist before, but I wasn’t the person to take it seriously and consider that I could be doing this for the rest of my life, because in my mind it just wasn’t a reality.
With the production thing, I was already alright and had a definite interest in it, and I felt like I could certainly do that more seriously. Now that that’s begun to come into fruition in the past while, I’m definitely hoping to play shows in different places and take inspiration from travelling.
There are so many ways through which you can make it in the music industry now – how does the landscape look to you?
We’re living in the cultural ‘Wild West’ – you can do whatever you want right now and anything flies.
Look at Avicci: he just made a hybrid of country and house. Mind you, it wasn’t my favorite thing, but that was really successful, and you see a lot of that hybrid and experimental stuff happening now. Especially in the future scene, there’s a lot of inspiration drawn from jazz, hip-hop etc., and I love that. I would say culturally, there’s no clear direction; everyone is doing everything at the same time, it’s almost like sensory overload to an extent.
If you could collaborate with any one artist and play any one concert of your choice, who and what would you choose?
Oh man. In terms of the collab, I would say it would be between Flume and medasin. It was really interesting to see Flume and others in the beat scene progressing their sound and eventually having it evolve into the future-type stuff you hear today. In terms of a concert I’d like to play, I would say Enchanted Forest [self-described as “NorCal’s premiere conscious living, music, and movement festival”]. I feel like if I were to be playing a show in the middle of the forest, immediately after my set I wouldn’t even party, I would just get straight to producing, that would be so cool.
I live in Vegas and here the whole production of everything is such that tons of money gets poured into everything that happens. It’s tight but it’s not at the same time. When people tell you about EDC [Electric Daisy Carnival – Vegas’ biggest EDM festival], the first thing you’ll hear is “oh, you have to go for the experience.” What the fuck does that even mean? Haha I guess it’s really just about being at EDC as opposed to being at EDC to see your favorite artist. I feel like anyone could be playing EDC, and for the most part, anyone does play EDC. I mean they have the same lineup almost every year, not to trash EDC or anything.
That said, I’ve noticed this year (and in fact KRNE is playing EDC this year, as well as Giraffage and Coyote Kisses, so that’s a great example of a festival turning it around) that EDM festivals have realized they’ve got to get with the times and start to features artists from more current genres, like future, which is really on the come-up.
In a world with no responsibilities or obligations how – other than music – would you spend your time?
Travelling for sure. I would just grab a car and go as far as I could, there’s just so much out there to see. Oh, and I’d also be playing a ton of video games. Actually, so many video games I might not end up travelling haha.
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(And check out our full SoundCloud Artist Spotlight playlist for Ghasper here.)