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Musicians tell us their Halloween stories

Seven musicians tell us their spookiest stories

Oneohtrix Point Never, Arca and more on their encounters with the other side

TextSelim BulutIllustrationCallum Abbott

Do musicians even have time for ghost stories? With so much of their life taken up in recording studios, on flights and tour buses, and being shunted from hotel to hotel, you’d imagine that they never spend long enough in a haunted house for a ghoul to get inside their heads. Then again, you could probably look at this the other way. Given how often they’re in unfamiliar locations, each with their own unique histories, you’re probably increasing the odds of running into something that goes bump in the night.

This Halloween, we asked a bunch of musicians a simple question: Regardless of your beliefs in the supernatural, have you ever seen something you can’t rationally explain? Not all of them had a tale to tell – John Carpenter, the Master of Horror himself, told us, “I never have seen anything. I’ve been longing to, but I’ve never seen it,” while Arca regaled a story far scarier than any spirit could be. But for those that have had encounters with the other side, we’ve shared some of their frightening fables below.


Arca: In virtue of our beliefs in the supernatural, have we ever seen something we can rationally explain? Our ego and language are constantly deluding themselves in attempts to flatten the impressions we have of being alive. We’re all gonna die. Isn’t that supernatural in the sense that it breaks fundamentally with what we think we know? Don’t we every day wake in the light of mystery? The sun will rise every day, sure – until it combusts. Happy Halloween!


Brooke Candy: My old apartment was super haunted. I’m not really sure how, or why – honestly, I think I carry some spooky ghost energy with me everywhere I go, and the ghost happened to make that particular apartment his home. One night, I woke up in an almost sleep paralysis. My left hand was floating in the air and moving around, and my right hand was scratching my chest so hard I was bleeding. I was totally awake and witnessing it but couldn’t move my arms or get out of it! It was terrifying.


Connan Mockasin: I could tell you several stories (laughs). Man, which one. I recorded my first album in a haunted house – the thing in that place was quite aggressive, and a little violent. That was really scary. We were in a disused big building, and only my friend and I had keys to it. My friend was squatting, and I was recording there. We heard a lot of stuff, mostly door slamming. A mirror got thrown across the room. I saw doors move without anyone there. I got locked in a room with no one in the house. Quite intimidating.

The most recent one I had was earlier this year. I was completely awake and I was just checking to see what the time was, because it was in the middle of the night – about four in the morning – and I saw this woman. She looked like a hologram. She was hovering, she wasn’t touching the floor. It was almost like she was from another time. There was no awareness of me, it was like I didn’t exist. It was just the weirdest thing. For about five or ten seconds, I saw this thing float across the room. It went through the wall, and that was it. It was a classic ghost look. It wasn’t scary, either. I thought I’d be terrified if I ever saw anything, but it was just like watching a film. When I described her to my dad, he said, “Oh yeah, that’s her!”

“I have cats, and as long as they’re okay, with the supernatural, I am too” – Sarah Midori Perry, Kero Kero Bonito


Empress Of: I saw a ghost in the book store once. She was putting a book away. I closed my eyes, and she was gone. It was so fast that it couldn’t have been someone actually there. She was like an older woman, with an apron on.


Kelly Lee Owens: The first house I lived in was rebuilt by my dad. It had burned down years before, and used to be an old coach house, where horses and their drivers would stay overnight. One night, when I was around four years old, I ‘dreamt’ I walked from my bedroom, along the hallway, and down the big staircase. As I was walking, I noticed people coming towards me – rows and rows of men and women dressed in clothing I now recognise as being from the Victorian era. They didn't seem to notice I was there, as they literally floated past me, opaque and luminescent. When I woke up the next day, my mum and dad told me they had found me standing at the bottom of the stairs after I’d slept walked down them.

In that house, we also had a spare room at the end of the hallway. The only thing inside it was a spinning chair that me and my brother would play on occasionally. I remember that I’d hear squeaking, peer in, and see it spinning slowly by itself. It's weird that, as a kid, you don’t think too much of it. On other occasions, my mum and dad would come home and hear men’s voices speaking Old Welsh, a language not used for hundreds of years, in the kitchen – and my dad would always run upstairs, “because he was tired”.

“I am interested in the supernatural, mostly in a wallflower way... I like the folklore of nightmares” – Oneohtrix Point Never


Sarah Midori Perry: In my old flat, there was a cupboard right next to my bed which had the electricity meter inside. It was always closed, but some nights I would wake up from a nightmare with the feeling I was being watched. Every time, the cupboard door had been forced open. I got really scared, so I taped up the door and it stopped opening for a while. But one night, I woke up from another nightmare. I turned to the small door and it was wide open, with the tape cut neatly, like someone had sliced it with a knife.

I have cats, and as long as they’re okay, with the supernatural, I am too. I can live with spirits if they’re benevolent.


Oneohtrix Point Never: I am interested in the supernatural, mostly in a wallflower way. I like it as a sort of generated thing in midnight movies. I like the folklore of nightmares. I don’t especially love conspiracies – I don’t believe in that shit, and to go from there to ghosts is a stretch.

But I will say this. When I was young, I was walking through a playground – a very scary-looking, draconian schoolyard. School was not in session, I was just walking through it. I have very few memories from my childhood, but this one is just burned into my mind. I was walking, and I remember, very specifically, the sun went away. Everything went grey in the sky, and I heard this insane cackle and shriek... and it was over. Once it was over, the clouds revealed the sun again, and things went back to normal.

The thing that really terrifies me is that I can still remember it, that it was actually so intense that it burned itself into my memory. I’ve never told that story before.

Special thanks to Brian Coney