The self titled debut album from Simian's Simon Lord and Theo Keating (aka Fake Blood and Touche), recording together as The Black Ghosts, is an eerily melodramatic affair but some undeniably ominous credentials back up The Black Ghosts’ tales of modern gothic romance.
Theo’s godfather directed Hammer House of Horror movies, which exposed him to their supernatural charms from a very early age. Simon, too, experienced a disquieting form of bohemia during his easily-influenced years. His grandmother, Madeleine Dring, was a music hall satirist and was considered a psychic.
Aside from youthful contact with the occult both Theo & Simon’s childhoods were steeped in music. Theo was a vinyl junky for as long as he could remember, by the age of 12 he had immersed himself in the world of Hip-Hop and by 16 he was an accomplished DJ. Meanwhile, Simon’s grandfather was part of the London Symphony Orchestra's woodwind section. "He played the oboe on the Star Wars theme" says Simon, "which meant absolutely nothing at the time, and on various Beatles tracks, including A Day in the Life, which he also just wrote off as 'some rock thing'. Simon's father, however, had a more progressive attitude to sound, building synthesizers that translated plants’ electrical fields into sound and creating a white noise dream machine for his children.
The whole Black Ghosts project has been informed by these experiences "I suppose we're aiming for that combination of very listenable music with rather disturbing lyrics," says Theo. "For instance, I was originally inspired not just by modern producers like Daft Punk and Timbaland, but musicians such as Serge Gainsbourg and David Axelrod. I'd compose a backing track and Simon put lyrics to it, or vice versa."
"Theo doesn't come from the sort of muso background that means he's always getting me to check out his jazz chords," adds Simon. "His experience comes from DJing, so the music he produces for me to write over has plenty of backbone and strong hooks. And I was never compromised by having to come up with lines in the studio with the rest of the band mucking about around me. I got to write the Black Ghosts LP by myself in a room with only suitably dim lamplight for company."
Theo adds, "They're slightly psychotic torch songs… love songs, but hardly of the 'Baby, let's be together' variety. You never get that sense of blind rage that relationships can so easily produce, for example, in pop songs normally."
"Music, to me, has to have a certain atmosphere, whether it's about pain or happiness," says Theo. So if you feel your world could do with an undercurrent of intrigue - or your discotheque needs haunting - just call The Black Ghosts.