Q+A: Five minutes with GHEIST

Following the marked international success of their impressive Embassy One debut with Only back in July, Berlin-based production trio and critically acclaimed live act, GHEIST, return to the long-standing German imprint with their eagerly-anticipated follow up single, Losing Game. Released on September 30, the spellbinding vocal cut delivers everything we’ve come to expect and more from the prolific trio, who continue to showcase their innate knack for creating deep, intelligent electronic music. Sophisticated and emotionally charged, GHEIST’s trademark composite of melodic, futuristic club music shines front and centre, bolstered by trippy synth refrains, ethereal vocals and pulsating four-four beats. We caught up with GHEIST to find out more.


GHEIST, hello and welcome to The Playground!

Hello and thank you for having us :).


How are things going? What are you currently working on?

Everything’s going well, thank you for asking. We just recently released our rework of Disclosure & Flume’s “You&Me“ and we couldn’t be more happy about the feedback we’re receiving. Right now we are back in the studio working on our next EP, which will be released via Embassy One. Especially now at the end of our festival season, it’s great to go back to creating new music with all these wonderful impressions still fresh on our minds.    


As an act, GHEIST is quite unique in the way you blend live and electronic music. Could you tell us a bit about how the band came together?

We met many years ago when we were still involved in different projects and in different musical genres. We immediately had a vibe and started to exchange thoughts, became friends and from then on also made music together. At some point it simply became inevitable to put it all together and GHEIST was born. Obviously that’s the short version of it, there also have been a lot of drunken nights, some holidays and a lot of funny moments that our friendship is built on.  


Who are some of your major influences?

There are so many and most of them are from different genres and times, such as Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Prodigy, but also acts like Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk had a huge impact on our music. 


You sort of kickstarted the band at an iconic Berlin venue; Watergate. Being a venue best known for traditional DJ acts, how did people respond to what you guys do?

The Berlin crowd was always very warm and welcoming towards GHEIST and the idea behind it. We played our first show ever at Watergate, which also shows the trust we’ve been given by the Watergate team, which we are still very grateful for. From the beginning our shows at this special venue were packed and there still is a unique energy when we are playing there.


There’s an openness to the scene in Berlin that allows for and embraces experimentation. Would you agree?

Yes definitely. Berlin is very open for any kind of art and especially in the electronic music scene. There are certain places and venues that built their entire reputation on being different in their choice of music. That’s something very special about this city and it’s also the reason so many people travel to Berlin just to party. This and the fact that there is no curfew!


How does your full live set differ from one of your hybrid / DJ sets?

First of all, our live set will exist only out of our own tracks. We’ll be playing fully live, meaning we are bringing real drums, drum machines, several synthesisers, a guitar, vocals and all the effect pedals we love to use. There will be no CDJ’s but Ableton as a DAW. The whole build on stage will look like a band setup and requires quite some space. When we play our hybrid shows we still bring a synthesiser setup, a drum machine and the vocals, but we mix our tracklist with edits of songs we love to play and combine them with our own productions. The hybrid show feels more like a mix of a DJ/ live performance and a concert.


You’ve just released a new single ‘Losing Game’ soon. Could you tell us a bit about it?

Typical for GHEIST, this track is melancholic but still energetic. There is a certain synth pattern in it that carries the song up to the break, which is the highlight of the whole song. The lyrics describe  a certain feeling of loss which makes it hard to leave it behind and move on. Losing game is another step into a musical direction which we are currently working on and a follow up to everything we’ve released this year so far. 


What comes first when you’re making music? The sound, the idea, or a bit of both?

It’s always a combination of both. Even when we are already deeper in our production process we love to go back on the piano and check harmonies and options we have in terms of composition.

For us there is not one without the other as both are equally inspiring. 


Walk us through your process. What sort of gear do you guys work with to create your unique sound?

A lot of the sounds we are creating are sample driven and then treated with effects. But we also use quite a lot of analog synthesisers such as Juno, Prophet, Moog, UDO and a small customised Modular System. We don’t have a fixed process we follow up on all the time. Sometimes we have a sample that inspires us, or we start with harmonies straight from the piano, a vocal line or even just a groove that we love. We usually try to make sure that by the end of the day we have a basic idea we can listen to. From then on we just keep on working on it, exchanging sounds, melodies, the beat, whatever needs to be done so we are all happy with the outcome. 


GHEIST is an act that thrives in a live setting. Are you relieved to be able to play live to crowds again?

Of course we are very happy to be back playing for our audience, creating special moments and memories we all can share. That’s what it is all about! 


Not being able to perform during the pandemic must have been difficult. What is the greatest lesson you guys have learned from that experience? 

It definitely wasn’t easy to begin with, but we quickly realised that there is always something you can do and that it’s not an option for us  just to wait till something happens. We simply started to go in the studio nearly every day and write music and create an album, which we released in November last year. It’s important to stay in control of your own future and make the most of every situation.


Is there a specific place or venue that you’re dreaming of playing at, and why?

Madison Square Garden.


Where can we see you live next?

In October and November you can also find us throughout Europe and in the Middle East.


What’s on GHEIST’s current playlist?

We have a beautiful playlist on Spotify called ZEITGHEIST which we also just recently updated. We would love you to check it out.


Famous last words? 

More Tequila please.


Listen to Losing Game by GHEIST below.


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