Ghostly/Spectral

The influential electronic sister labels are set to release a double compilation to showcase their finest...

Music Incoming
Seth Troxler
Whilst the Ghostly International imprint release more experimental music from the likes of The Chap to lush electronic pop from Matthew Dear or darker techno from Tycho and Mux Mool, the sister label run by Ryan Elliott and Matthew Dear (aka Audion), 'Spectral Sound' is the dancefloor counterpart, home to the likes of Bodycode, Wolf + Lamb label co-owner Gadi Mizrahi and one of the best loved DJs of today, Seth Troxler.

His former Berlin flatmates Lee Curtiss and Ryan Crosson (who teams up with Sergio Giorgini for the Birds & Souls duo project) also grace the roster with deeper groove-filled tech house tracks, and their DJ gigs around the world at clubs like T Bar, Fabric, and Russian Bar in London have made the label one of the most well respected techno imprints of today. Dazed speak to founder Samuel Valenti IV of the label before the release of the Ghostly double CD compilation...

Dazed Digital: Ghostly/Spectral are so iconic now- what was it that pushed you to start a label in the early days? Is there something in particular you thought was missing out there and what gap do you fill?

Samuel Valenti IV: Ghostly was created both as an outlet for some amazing artists I met as well as my personal interests in marrying music and art. There was, and still is, a dearth of American electronic imprints, given our country's history. Ghostly was built with this in mind and I believe has been a positive beacon for the US music scene.
 
Spectral was a reaction to realizing that Ghostly needed to be free to move wherever stylistically, and we didn't want to sacrifice the 12" format and consistency that a dance label needed. They have slightly different musical ideologies but share a common thread of some kinds.
 
DD: Tell me about your first few releases as compared to your upcoming ones now?
Samuel Valenti IV: While the label has changed a lot and grown over ten years, I think we've remained true to our genre-bending roots and have produced some successful projects, both artistically and commercially. All in all, you have to be happy with what you release or it loses it's soul. That hasn't changed.
 
DD: The 'Spectral sound' has been deemed as more obvious dancefloor material, but what is it do you think that links it to the 'Ghostly sound'?
Samuel Valenti IV: I think a forthrightness. It's playful without being kitschy. Dance music, in my opinion, has to ride that line between being thoughtful as well as naive simultaneously. Almost like a wise child, who knows what's going on but is not entirely sure where it fits in. There are differing opinions on the subject, but we are comfortable in our own skin.
 
DD: How do you pick your artists? Does Matthew Dear do some A&R for you for Spectral?
Samuel Valenti IV: It now comes in a lot of different ways. I used to pick the majority of projects, but I've been much happier as new projects come from the artists, the team and through random sources. Ryan Elliott and Matthew Dear are looking after Spectral and taking it to a new level, it's really exciting to see.
 
DD: Is there something in particular that makes a 'Spectral' artist?
Samuel Valenti IV: There is an understanding of the past, of the roots, but also not being complacent to stay there. A certain restlessness and a spirt of abstraction from the normal genres is crucial. Plus they all have to be able to dance and not take themselves too seriously.
 
DD: You also release artists like Gadi Mizrahi who runs W+L which has really had a lot of love recently, do you feel any overlaps in your music or do you quite feel far removed?
Samuel Valenti IV: What Zev and Gadi have done is very much in the same spirit, but they've taken it to a whole different place. The W+L aesthetic and lifestyle has been a great thing for New York and the US in general, where they are creating a vibe that translates internationally. We obviously share a lot of the same artists and tastes.
 
DD: Are you a producer yourself?
Samuel Valenti IV: Definitely not. I know my place and know who the professionals are. I got into dance music through DJing, so it was a great way to learn who was good. I'm a decent-enough DJ, but I know too many great DJs, so they are I enjoy the process of putting together projects, from picking through songs and helping sort through good cover art with Michael Cina and Will Calcutt. I see myself as a project producer, merely a selector and facilitator.
 
DD: Weirdly, I met Claude Vonstroke recently who mentioned 'Who's Afraid of Detroit' had meant a lot to many music lovers including those at Ghostly? What other songs do you think have been iconic to you?
Samuel Valenti IV: Ha, my girlfriend and I always tease Barclay that that song is what brought us together as the weekend we met it was playing constantly. Ryan Elliott and Matthew Dear had a night in Ann Arbor in the early 2000's which was a great way to solidify our sound and common interests. A lot of classic Playhouse and Kompakt songs were played ("Baby's On Fire" "You're So Just Just" by Rework), that had a lot of character and could also make everyone dance. The aritsts would bring their new songs on CD-R and would get tested. I remember distinctly Audion's "Kisses" being a destroyer and Osborne's "Afrika" actually made the woofer glow on the speaker, it was strange and awesome.

DD: With things like Ghostly slipmats and I've even got the Ghostly app for the iPhone, what else is to come/where are you hoping to take the labels next?
Samuel Valenti IV: We keep trying to make ourselves interested. We did a pop-up shop in Berlin as well as a big list of our 110 favourite records. This year is very much about the art aspect as well and will be unveiling more art experiences too.

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