“One fine day, in the middle of the night, two dead men got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords, and shot each other. A deaf policeman heard this noise and came to kill the two dead boys. If you don’t believe this story’s true, ask the blind man, he saw it too.”
Now, who’s afraid of the dark?
Andrew, enigmatic and calm and one half of The Ghost Quotes, says, “It’s all on a scale. A spectrum of dark and light. There’s got to be balance. Light and darkness.”
Donny, the eery poet who sings and chants to Andrew’s beat, growls in summary, “You have to take care of that darkness.”
I spoke to The Ghost Quotes about evil on a balcony in Cape Town while the first real and heavy rain of winter fell.
The Ghost Quotes is a measure of balance, a collaborative effort from the minds of two very different musicians, Andrew Winer and Donny Truter, who share a responsibility to represent the darkness.
Donny, laid back and brazen in a wife beater and a Buster Keaton hat, croaks, “I know I’m far more attracted to the things that define us as performers. Doing something lighthearted is kind of the easy way out. I like the darkness. I think the darkness needs to be looked after. Like the Beat Poets, they were dark and the Classic Poets, they were dark. It’s attractive to a small amount of people and if you do it correctly then you can change minds. You should be doing stuff at the end of the day that defines you. Don’t cater to soft hearts.”
I heard a song by these two called ‘She’s Gone.’ Then I listened to it and every other track they had on Soundcloud until my ears bled. It’s so new, so raw, so dark that it is addictive. You don’t know you love it until you’ve tried it and this genre-less, cinematic construction of sound is thick with evil. Moreish if you’re into that kind of thing.
New on the scene and fresh to the stage, in fact they are in their Initiation phase, with a debut show at FREAKSHOW and an invitation to join Psych Night at The Assembly on Saturday the 29th of March, this is only the beginning.
How did it happen?
Andrew looks at Donny, “Didn’t you call me and say lets make some evil music?”
Donny nods, “Yeah, we’ve been musical peers for a while and jammed here and there with the likes of Jeremy Loops, Taleswapper (Donny’s blues project) Two Minute Puzzle (Andrew’s previous band) and Andre Geldenhuys from Machineri and I was really attracted to his style of production. There was something just a little bit evil about it and something very nice about that evil. ‘Let’s make a really evil track just for shits and giggles,’ we said and he did the production and it was just want I wanted. It fitted with my vocal style and was the perfect marriage. It was attractive to our ears so we figured that whoever else found that attractive, would be of the same mindset. And The Ghost Quotes was born.”
How about the name?
Donny explains, “We fiddled around with the name for a while. Like crows are a talisman for spirits so we wanted to go for that. We wanted it to have an underlying dark and spiritual style.”
“Occult-ish,” Andrew says, “Actually, I think I misheard something Donny said and was like, oh yeah, The Ghost Quotes.”
Donny smiles, “And I was like, ‘No, but yes!’ That is fucking great.”
So The Ghost Quotes have risen and the sound is black, it incorporates witchy, voodoo electronic effects, strange chanting, horror-show imagery and thick, sluggish, swamp tones buried in the mud of roots music.
Donny elaborates, “I’ve been of a swampish mindset for a while. From Taleswapper which is heavy set in the blues. Andrew brings this dark production, a contemporary, electronic edge – I don’t even know what you would call this production style. Almost… glitchy.”
When you listen to The Ghost Quotes, you feel immersed. It’s full on and freaking weird but somehow there’s a story to take you through it all. Their EP, entitled Swamp Machines is a grimoire of strange stories.
Donny, who writes the lyrics explains, “I’ve been writing poetry since I was a little boy and I have a backlog of loads of poetry. I was creating something to match up with Andrew’s style which is very cinematic and there’s lots of shit going on there. We wanted to take something electronic that was more cinematic than dance floor driven or singer/songwriter driven. Really weird. The weirder the better, the darker the better and then marry the story to the style of production. Basically not all The Ghost Quotes songs are the same but there is the underlying story and that cinematic darkness.
It’s a whole, scary world to create and I want to know how that is going to translate as a stage performance.
Andrews smiles at Donny, “Should we let the cat out the bag?”
“Hey, we might as well. It’s about time,” growls Donny.
“We want it to be theatrical. We want to make the performance like a scene in a film. Difficult to relate to but strangely appealing. Right now, we’re still inside the studio, really. We know we’ve got something here but we don’t know what it is yet. It’s evil. We don’t quite know how to place it. We want to keep it dark without freaking the crowd out… but it’s super weird. Super dark. Definitely not normal. That’s pretty much as far as we go with a brief in the studio: the weirder, the better.”
As Donny mentioned before, the dark is really only a place where a few people feel at home. How is this going to work for the rest of the mortal world?
“Personally I think its going to blow my own mind and that’s when I know it’s attractive to me. When Andrew and I work together, we know when it’s rad for us, it’s ready. We write this for us. We get stoked and then we go from there. We don’t write for other people first.”
“I think people are generally too afraid to delve into things that unsettle them. The world is afraid of the darkness. People don’t take care of it enough.
Andrew certifies, “Between The Ghost Quotes now and the future I don’t foresee anything less than world domination.”