Last month, Handsome Ghost released their first EP Steps, and I haven’t been able to turn it off since. Something about the track “Blood Stutter,” with its melancholic and wavering vocal harmonies struck an emotional chord with me. Now reaching nearly 9 million plays on Spotify, I can see I wasn’t the only one.
Today, we’re pleased to present the rehearsal video for “Steps,” the EP’s namesake. Directed by Kenny Suleimanagich, the footage mainly focuses on front man Tim Noyes, as it should because he’s really adorable, on top of talented. One of the best things about these behind-the-scenes videos is that they show how a band actually functions on stage, which is strikingly appropriate for a band with as curious a sound as Handsome Ghost’s.
Check out the rehearsal video below, as well as our chat with Noyes about touring with Misterwives, learning to write well, and taking a shot making your dream a reality.
Where and when was this video shot?
We shot this video for “Steps” on a Sunday evening this past February. We were rehearsing at a very cool space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – one of my favorite areas in New York. Top three, for sure.
How did you come up with the concept for the video, and how does it relate to the music?
This video came about very naturally. We were about a week out from the start of our tour with Misterwives, and we were spending the day putting the final touches on our set. Some friends came through, we hung out, and it was all very low-key. We filmed a few songs and this rehearsal video is the sum of what was a really great Sunday night. We went out for a beer afterwards; it was perfect.
How did being a philosophy major affect you artistically?
My philosophy classes in college taught me how to write. I didn’t mind the papers and I actually loved writing my thesis. I learned how to make and support an argument. Songwriting is about emotion and connection and less about following the rules, but philosophy helped give me confidence in my words.
Having a Folk background, how did you teach yourself to produce electronic music?
Trial and error. Lots of error. I spent a lot of time working and re-working songs until I found the tones or the parts I liked. It made for a lot of late nights and early mornings. I’m still learning. I like to think that I’m getting better with each track.
Did you find it hard merging acoustic sounds with what you were learning?
Not particularly. Whether it’s an acoustic guitar part or a synth riff, I like to keep things simple. As long as every part has room to breathe, I think they can all work together to support a song. I find that when I try and make things too involved I run into trouble.
What are your thoughts on performing live?
I like it! We just finished up our first ever tour, so the live show is much improved from a few months ago. We had played just five or six shows before hitting the road with Misterwives, so we learned a lot really fast. My songs aren’t necessarily party anthems, so it’s important we find other ways to connect with an audience and make them feel something. That or write some party anthems.
How has it been touring with MisterWives? Was this your first tour of that length?
It was amazing, honestly. I wish we had more shows to play with Misterwives. They are incredible talents and some of the best people I’ve ever met. They were just so generous in so many ways and I’m very grateful. I feel like I miss them and it’s only been a week off tour—is that bad? And musically, wow. They put on a powerful show every single night; it’s an experience. I have never seen fans like Misterwives’ fans either…they were so good to us.
You were once at a crossroads of academia and pursuing music professionally. Do you have any advice to give people who find themselves in similar situations?
Every situation is different, but music became such a big part of my life that I needed to either “go for it” and do it full time or give it up entirely and focus on my teaching—a very demanding and time consuming profession. I chose music because I knew I’d be unhappy with myself if I didn’t try. I figured if it didn’t work, I’d pick up the pieces and at least know that I went down swinging.
What are your plans for the rest of 2015?
Write/record/tour! I’m writing what I hope will be our first record now and I’m very, very excited about these songs. Some of them started on the Misterwives tour, at coffee shops or in hotel rooms and now I have time to actually finish them. It’s such a satisfying feeling.