Love is a Ghost evolved out of an ongoing collaboration between vocalist Char Elizabeth and producer Tim Newman. Char and Tim first worked together on material for a forthcoming project by David J of Bauhaus. The work took Char’s voice and used it as an element in collage. Char and Tim continued to experiment with styles and techniques looking for their musical home.
Everything fell into place when Tim worked on some material by musician and visual artist Craig Tattersall for Brian Records. Craig’s tape manipulations and work with texture was the final piece in the puzzle and Love is a Ghost was born.
The debut EP by Love is a Ghost sees them record and then deconstruct their beautiful composition. Siren. It’s now available for purchase on the bands bandcamp page HERE.
Tim has worked with David J on numerous projects, including a live appearance at Beck studio (birthplace of Bela Lugosi’s Dead) performing that very number with David himself. Also David’s forthcoming double album (created fully with Tim), Char, as well as appearing on many of the tracks on the afore mentioned up and coming album appears in the video for Death Valley ’69, part of Paul Statham’s brilliant Dark Flowers’ project (a supergroup of sorts with a revolving door ethos – amongst the vocalists are Peter Murphy, Shelly Poole, David J, Jim Kerr), a cover of the Sonic Youth song (Death Valley ’69) appears as part of a four track Murder Ballads e.p. as a taster for this new LP. David J provides the lead vocals and Char the backing vocals. Further covers on this e.p are by Tom Waits, Delta Rae and Joan Baez. Tim has also re-worked David’s John Cale cover Fear is a Man’s Best Friend for a new Glass Records anniversary LP, Char has turned in an incredible performance with David on this one. Created once again by Tim.
Love Is A Ghost gives us some insight into Siren, where they find their inspiration, where it all started for them as well as working with David J and what’s in store for his future releases.. and more!
All – When and where did it all start for you? Did you grow up in a musical environment?
Craig – no not really, my mum and dad always had the radio on I guess and my dad would listen to glen Campbell cassettes while we decorated, so I grew up loving glen Campbell, but not so much decorating! my brother who is 2 1/2 years older than me bought a guitar when he was about 14 and I started to mess with that as I discovered music, I’ve been hooked ever since.
Tim – My family and childhood environment was very un-musical. My parents didn’t buy many records and they were pretty much all uninspiring. I became obsessed with electro when I was about 11 or 12. For me, it was about entering a fantasy world. I still spend most of my time there I think!
The first time I remember an emotional connection to music was when i was may 5 or 6. My mum had bought the soundtrack to Evita. I put it on the record player and listened to Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. I burst into tears, I didn’t know what to do with the sudden wave of sadness. My mum rushed in, thinking I’d hurt myself and asked what was wrong. I said it’s this music, it’s so sad.
Char – I started taking an interest in music from a very young age. I used to listen to Nick Cave a lot in the car with my dad and learnt the songs and realized I could actually sing!. He had friends who had studios and it just took off from there. That’s how I met Tim, through recording my own songs with him and that led to the band. My original first vocal attempts were recorded by Glenn Campling (Tones on Tail/Lonestation) when I was much younger, then I did a couple of really polished covers with Roger Rideout at his studio in Northampton, (TORCHED; Roger was in Jam, the first band that David J and Kevin Haskins put together back in the early 1970’s). Tim had this idea for a female vocal whilst working on a mix of Gimme Some Truth for David, we actually spent the whole day trying to get this down, I’d really learnt the song but it just wasn’t happening so rather than waste studio time Tim let me record vocals for a couple of my original songs, he then created some amazing backing tracks for those.
All – Who or what are some of your creative inspirations?
Craig – tough one, as this I think is always in flux. If pushed I would avoid listing bands and musicians but would have to say it would be all the arts, films, books, photography, art, music and this will change, I tend to find the things I am looking at, reading and listening too will affect my musical output. I guess I feel slightly sponge like in absorbing these things, also to some extent nature, walking, running, these are more reflective times, to think over what you are making. I find it hard to see aesthetic differences in the sounds I make and the art I make, so I guess I am probably getting inspiration from all of these.
Tim – Inspirations for Love Is A Ghost are His Name is Alive, Meredith Monk, any 4AD ethereal stuff. And 90s remix EPs. I make music in several different styles under different names and my inspiration for each project varies. Every time I hear music I like, which is every day at some point, I want to enter the world it creates in your head. That would be my primary inspiration. These days I mostly listen to Krautrock, Canterbury Scene, fusion era jazz especially Impulse label, UK grime. But really I listen to anything. I get a kick out of anything weird. I also listen to a lot of pop these days through my kids, I actually really like a lot of it, especially when it’s well written and put together. I like Charlie XCX and Taylor Swift most.
Char – For me it’s mainly Michael Jackson, early Lana Del Rey and Emily Kinney. Although all very different and you wouldn’t find them as natural comparisons to me.
Tim – You’ve worked with David J on numerous projects… what are a few of these collaborations and what was it like working with him?
Tim – I’ve worked with David J on various projects, some have been released, and some have not. I’ve worked on his two last solo albums, the expanded version of V for Vendetta, and the Day That David Bowie Died EP.
Working with David is a dream come true for me as he’s a musical hero and inspiration. He’s a great guy to work with. He has an amazingly open mind for music and instinctively knows how to channel creativity and find the art in a situation. I love working with him. Because I hold him in such high esteem, I feel the need to up my game, which is always a satisfying experience.
Tim – What are a few things that fans can expect from David J’s forthcoming album?
Tim – David has three album length releases coming up. The first is called Loner and is all based around a song of his, formerly known as Albino Dog. We drew together several musicians to help us reinterpret the song and create tangents from it. It’s on the more cerebral /experimental side of David’s work, but I think followers of his music will like it. I wrote a lot of my parts when I was recovering from the flu (in pre Covid times) and that surreal confused fever-state informed a lot of the music!
Then David has volumes One and Two of Analogue Excavations on the way. This was a huge project where David and I took unused fragments from demo cassettes of David’s, (some dating back to the early ‘80s) and reworked them into new / developed compositions. Vol One is more rhythmic and has echoes of Can and other Krautrock, whilst Vol Two is more atmospheric. There are several high profile guests on that project including Black Francis from the Pixies and Adrian Utley from Portishead. I think those who like left field music will get a kick out of these recordings.
Char – I understand that you also collaborated with David J on his next album.. How did this come about and what are some of your creative contributions?
Char – I met David through my dad I went to a gig in Leeds and spoke to him for the first time. Tim thought I was a good fit for some of David’s album. Backward vocal and other ethereal sounds can be heard throughout some of the songs (Analogue Excavations). Some of these were taken from the session I did with Roger.
Char – you recently worked with David J on his collaboration with the dark country indie project ‘The Dark Flowers’ on the track ‘Death Valley 69’ for which you were also featured in the accompanying video. What was the inspiration behind this collaboration, and can you give me some insight into your experiences here?
Char – We ended up emailing after we did some other stuff together (Fear is a Man’s Best Friend) and he asked me if I’d like to do it and of course I said yes without hesitation. It’s still crazy to think I’ve done music with someone so talented and so well known. And the song, I’d never heard of it actually and it’s not really my thing but I really enjoyed getting involved and appearing in the video!. That’s more my thing. I love performing in any way I think it’s a great way to be creative. Tim actually recorded my vocal for that (Death Valley), David sent me his vocal and I worked around his, it was taped during a short reprieve in lockdown last year, Tim was in his studio recording whilst I sang in his kitchen with a long mic lead, we couldn’t mix households!
All – What was your inspiration behind your new release ‘Siren’? Are your lyrics based on real life events or make believe?
Tim – The hope is that Siren will be the blueprint for future Love Is A Ghost releases. We’re want to release each song as a separate EP, with a collection of reworkings / deconstructions. It’s a bit like a cubist painting where you can see multiple angles of the object within the same picture. We want the listener to be able to nose around inside the music and look at it from all perspectives. Most compositions contain lots of elements that go towards making the whole but can’t be appreciated on their own terms. It’s just the nature of music, so this is trying to offer something different in that respect.
Char – My inspiration was mermaids. And the way sirens can lure any man through song. I thought the music had to attract people in a similar way. Kind of hypnotic if that makes sense.
All – What does a typical day in the studio look like for you? Can you go into a few details on how you pieced together ‘Siren’ technically?
Craig – for me it is usually two 1990’s 4 track cassette recorders and some instruments, a synth, a harmonium, a guitar, and I will make loops from the sound source Tim and Char have sent me, also adding my own instrumental loops, I tend to capture these into a daw (logic) to do the mix then I will send all the stems to Tim to work back into in his mixes.
I like to work with physical matter, so my cassettes and loops are often affected with other things, like rusty nails, sandpaper, magnets…
Tim – We all work on our parts separately; in fact I have never even met Craig in person! I think that makes for a really interesting dynamic. Our only form of interaction is the music we let each other hear. I’ve converted my garage into a studio, but I have two young kids, so I very rarely get a full day of studio time. It’s little and often for me, a matter of negotiating an hour or two here or there with my wife to fit around chores and parenting. When I am working on music, I probably spend 20% of the time recording new sounds and the other 80% arranging, editing, processing through FX and so on. That is where the majority of my creative decisions are made.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for Torched!