Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Ghostpoet-ii online.jpg

“In some ways I feel like I’m starting again,” Ejimiwe says. “I’ve decided to take another path, and in this world I’ve got to prove myself. But at the same time I don’t feel like that. I feel like I’m enjoying making music and this is what I’ve chosen to make.” When observing a few key factors, the re-routing of Ghost’s stylistic journey isn’t as radical as it first appears. Firstly, Ejimiwe flirted with a guitar-driven sound on tracks such as ‘Plastic Bag Brain’ from Some Say I. Secondly, the musicians that appear on Shedding Skin – guitarist Joe Newman, drummer John Blease and bassist/ co-producer John Calvert – have been a central feature of Ghostpoet’s live setup for the past couple of years. “I’ve always played with a band,” says Ejimiwe, “but I never was in a situation where I could work with a full set of musicians over a period of time. I hadn’t really built up a relationship with anyone to that level. So the timing was just right, more than anything else. “I’ve always loved guitar music,” he adds. “For a while, all I was doing was listening to guitar music and that was influencing my thinking.”



In spite of his deadpan spoken delivery, Ghostpoet’s long had a knack for penning memorable, almost mantra-like chorus refrains. Once again, the majority of Shedding Skin’s tracks are likely to stick in your head, yet none of them seem overtly engineered to be singles. To attain this quality, Ejimiwe had some dependable guides. “I was listening to a lot of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, a lot of Interpol, Massive Attack, TV On the Radio,” he says. “I was listening to their music and thinking ‘What is it about their stuff that they have commercial appeal?’ It’s the balance – it’s still creative, but it appeals to a mass audience. I connect with those kinds of artists. So for me, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to reach that world, I’m not trying to reach a glossy pop world.” Although Ejimiwe is very open about his influences, Shedding Skin doesn’t get lost in referencing past artists. Conversely, even with the re-styled backdrop, the record affirms Ghostpoet’s distinct creative personality. “As much as it’s a band record, I’m not in a band,” Ejimiwe says. “I’m still very much a solo artist and it was important that there was that distinction. I think as long as people can have that connection, which is me and my vocals and my lyrics, I don’t think it matters to people so much. “I feel like I’m a Marmite – or Vegemite – artist,” he continues. “You either like me or you don’t and that’s _ ne. I think it’s good that art can divide opinions and evoke discussion. I’m at a point now, with it being the third record, where I’ve established my name enough for people to realise that I kind of just make what I want. But at the same time, it’s always going to be a level of quality and that’s what’s important. I’m trying to make music that potentially will last in people’s existences for a long period of time.”



Another prominent feature of Ghostpoet’s back catalogue is his tendency to veer towards darker lyrical themes. Some Say I was a particularly grim affair, steeped in heartbreak and despair, a reflection of Ejimiwe’s personal situation at the time. “The last record was a very insular record,” he agrees. “I was very much looking inwards and being down, being depressed, going through negative stuff personally, and realising I just have to write through it, rather than abandon music.” Shedding Skin comprises a series of socially alert character studies, encompassing homelessness, domestic abuse and relationship disparity. All the while, it’s held together by a narratorial emphasis on overcoming one’s demons. “I can only talk with some kind of authority on London, and the UK to a certain extent, because I live here,” Ejimiwe says. “Things aren’t great. There’s high unemployment, there’s massive homeless issues and social issues. And this isn’t from a political standpoint; it’s just sticking my head up and looking around and taking in the scenes of the people around me. I thought I had to write from that perspective. At the same time, as much as there are things that aren’t great, there are amazing things happening here in all different aspects of life. So it was a combination of the two things. “I don’t like sugar coating anything, in life or lyrically or musically,” he adds. “If I’m talking about something, I want to say what I see, rather than try to romanticise it or put it through an Instagram filter. I want it to be what it is.”