This month we spoke with Ghostly International founder, Sam Valenti IV in an effort to get a stronger sense of why the label was created and what they have instore. Aside from maybe Plug Research, their aren’t a whole lot of labels like Ghostly in the U.S. and they seem to offer a glimpse of what could be possible from the next generation of stateside labels. Perhaps the strongest element of Ghostly  is the diversity found in it’s artists. From the experimental work of Tadd Mullinix, Midwest Product who merge indie-rock and electronics, Italian disco of the Disco Nouveau compilation, tech-house from Matthew Dear, or the digitally hammered and reconstructed hip-hop vibe of Dabyre, Ghostly has it all. The other element that draws listeners in is the visual imagery associated with the label. You would think that after the incredible visual work and logos that Factory records gave us back in the day, that more labels would of taken a hint or two. Ghostly has done so and with the work of illustrator Michael Segal and his Look Group as well as other talented artists like Kristian Russell, they’ve  created exceptional imagery to complement the work of the their roster. 


How did Ghostly come about and what inspired you to start it?

Ghostly International was a loose collage of ideas that was brewing for quite a few years in my mind but came to fruition once I hit college. I DJ'ed under the name, Spaceghost in High School and was in love with Hip-Hop music since my early teens.  When I started to escape the genre constrictions of some of my peers, I begin to listen to a lot of electronic music and I knew that I wanted to start a label that had an element of magic and romance, or what I believed were lacking in the a lot of the music coming out. This desire, coupled with a failed relationship and a chance meeting with our first artist, Matthew Dear, was reason enough to start Ghostly International.

A lot of labels, especially in the electronic scene, tend to stick with specific genres. Why isn't Ghostly doing that?

I secretly wish I could stick to one genre, but I realize that this would be a betrayal of my initial desire to start a label in the first place, to put forth a broad spectrum of music which has an emotive and personal quality. There is no superior genre for me, it is merely a factor of circumstance and environment.  The desire to elevate electronic music is what is integral to Ghostly, whether in a stylistic assemblage or in raw form. I started a sub-label, Spectral Sound to devote to dancefloor music, though there is considerable bleed across the two labels in terms of style.

Can you tell us more about the visual element of the label? It seems to be pretty important.

The visual element is very important, but doesn’t supercede the music. It is more about a maintaining a best fit scenario and really trying to distill the concepts into a recognizable shape, image or icon. I don’t work with one artist/photographer or designer exclusively.  It is much more enjoyable and challenging to have to find the right people for the job to make the music tangible and so far, the results have been rewarding, though sometimes daunting. Once I get my mind set on something, be it a font or an image, it is hard to shake.

Why did you want to do an electro compilation like "Disco Nouveau"?

Disco Nouveau is about a moment in time, hence its position as the first of the Tangent  series. I was becoming increasingly obsessed with Italian Disco and related music thanks to my peers, and wanted to capture the majestic nature of these songs in a very conceptual project.  It came together quite naturally because it was meant to happen and I truly believe I was catching a stretch of history which was bigger than me and obviously has swept this industry as a whole.

What do you think of the much hyped 'Electroclash' scene here in New York?

As far as Electroclash goes, I am not too interested in the name as I think it stands for one promoter1s take on the genre.  I quite like Larry Tee and have found him to be affable and charming and I think his name for the genre has swallowed up a lot of things outside its influence.  What you are looking at in this Electro boom, is many artists and their individual take on a style of music. The vision is much more diverse and differentiated if you look at it closely. There's the aims of guys like DJ Hell or Larry, and there is the individual artists, like Michigan’s Adult., Ectomorph and Perspects, who have been making proper electro for years and are now being name checked alongside a variety of artists who goals for the music couldn’t be further from theirs. Its all very interesting.

How did you come in contact with the artists on the label?

The artists on the label, a majority of whom are currently in Ann Arbor, were introduced to me or I met in various situations.  Matthew Dear, I already mentioned was a chance meeting during my welcome week at college. Tadd Mullinix, I met at a record store and he gave me a demo of techno, the other side of which, was some of the music that would become Winking Makes a Face. Midwest Product was a demo that was passed through a few friends to me and Dykehouse I had met with Tadd right after Mike was accepted to the first DEMF. Its an incestuous town. It is always a great rush to meet a new person who is doing their own thing and I count these meetings as some of my favorite elements of running the label.

How has the Ghostly International tour been for you?  Anything in particular experience stuck in your mind?

The Idol Tryouts 2002 tour was an immensely eye opening experience on a number levels. No one knew what to expect with each city and that was the exciting part.  I also enjoyed seeing who killed on any given night. Some nights, people couldn’t get enough of Dykehouse and found him hysterical, other nights people booed him and threw things at him. It was great. Dabyre, who was the headliner of the tour, had some nights where people just wanted to kick back and enjoy it. Other nights he had people, namely girls, going crazy. It was like product testing but it was also a great excuse to take a road trip.

In your opinion, what do you think of the music being released out of the U.S. right now?

It’s hard to sum up the merits of and the grievances against an entire nation's music.  I quite like a lot of chart music this year and believe that we have a failing economy to thank for this. Popular Hip-Hop production has hit new heights, and I also like a lot of radio pop too.  As far as independent music goes, its great that there is a resurgence in rock music and an emphasis on new bands, irrespective of any derivative accusations. I think that the fact that electronic music and rock music is taking bed with each other is incredibly important because these two scenes need more cross-pollination in order to come up with something new.  I think the US will see a new breed of a scene, in the continuation of labeled scenes such as punks, indie kids, ravers, hip-hop kids, etc. that will be young people who are raised on headphone and laptop culture but also go out to see shows. Maybe he/she will take drugs or maybe it1s a clean-living thing, but they will cherish being part of a new movement which will crave community but with an industrial sheen and a love of the abstract.  Computer music and all its sub-sanctions and hybrids will become the music of young America.

Future releases/ plans from Ghostly?

I am very very pleased with our current roster which includes some new faces.  Our next full length, Idol Tryouts: Ghostly International Vol. I, is a round-up of the Ghostly family and features new tracks from this incredible bunch.  We just released Midwest Product’s debut Specifics and on deck is a new album from Tadd Mullinix and Matthew Dear plus debut Ghostly releases from the already legendary Dykehouse and a duo from Chicago who is taking electro somewhere dark and unexpected. Its going to be a blast.

Ghostly Catalogue

GI-14 Various Artists - Disco Nouveau Remnants 12" Coming Soon
GI-13 Various Artists - Idol Tryouts CD  Coming Soon
GI-12 Dabrye - Payback 12" Coming Soon
GI-11 Tadd Mullinix - Panes CD Coming Soon
GI-10 Midwest Product - Specifics CD
GI-9 Charles Manier - Bang Bang Lover 12"
GI-8 Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau 12" C
GI-7 Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau 12" B
GI-6 Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau 12" A
GI-5 Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau CD  (2nd Printing - Digipak)
GI-5 Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau CD (Limited Edition Book) SOLD OUT
GI-2 James Cotton - Mind Your Manners 12"
GI-1 Tadd Mullinix - Winking Makes A Face CD
GHS-001Matthew Dear / Daisha -Hands Up for Detroit 12"

Spectral Catalogue

SPC-5 Various Artists -”State of the Union" EP Coming September 2002
SPC-4 Osborne / DMX Krew "Bout Ready to Jak" / "I Won't Forget" Coming August 2002
SPC-3 Matthew Dear/John Selway "Stealing Moves" 12"
SPC-2 Kenneth Graham " 12" + Bryan Zentz Reconstruction
SPC-1 Matthew Dear "Irreparably Dented" 12" + David Alvarado Reconstruction


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