The word superb accurately describes Ghostly Beard’s new single, “Close Your Eyes,” from the EP Infinite. The 5:59 track has a prog-rockish music vibe, falling somewhere along the lines of Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, or perhaps Sgt. Pepper, while remaining thoroughly contemporary and a pleasure to hear. “Close Your Eyes” clearly reflects the impeccable mark of Ghostly Beard. This is not your average band.
Expertly Created Music
“Close Your Eyes” opens with a crisp acoustic intro, before the bass-line arrives, setting the stage for controlled vocals and the trippy, electric fretwork that soon follows. Before long, an echo-tinged guitar solo intensifies with inventive grace and sonic beauty. The layering and studio production is seamless, balanced and warm, while the accompanying music video for “Close Your Eyes” remains equally impressive. All of the songs on the Infinite EP follow suit; they are that good. But the Ghostly Beard story does not stop there.
More about the Music Artist
Hard to believe, but Ghostly Beard is just one person, veteran rocker Patrick Talbot. Music Interview Magazine spoke with Patrick about his recent reemergence, “Close Your Eyes,” Infinite, Ghostly Beard and more.
Interview with Patrick Talbot of Ghostly Beard
You are a veteran singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who recently returned to the music scene. Where have you been and what prompted the music homecoming?
I have been playing guitar mostly since I was 14 years old, almost 40 years ago now. I studied hard and learned a variety of styles because I wanted to be a session musician. But there weren’t many opportunities in the 80s in the south of France where I lived, so it didn’t happen. I played with various bands and player combinations during that time, progressive rock, jazz, folk, you name it. I was happy to absorb anything.
In the 90s, I started writing and recording my own material using synthesizers and four- and eight-track cassettes, during the good old days of tape hiss, which I enjoyed very much. Then various circumstances happened in my life, like getting married, changing jobs, losing my parents, my wife’s cancer, adopting a child and moving to Canada, so I lost the energy to make music for almost 15 years.
Around 2011, after being established in Montreal for six years and when my own business was finally secure enough to allow me some free time, I decided to get back to music. It was always in the back of my mind, but I needed to find the time for it. I bought some good recording gear to build a home studio and then started playing again while learning everything I could about audio engineering, mixing and mastering.
My playing is never going to be as good as when I was young. But I feel that what I lost in technique, I’ve gained in maturity and musicality. I don’t show off anymore; I don’t care much about that anyway. But I do pay a lot more attention to the sound, feel and finer details and I spend more time crafting arrangements with a better flow and melodic depth. Since 2013 I have written, recorded and produced about one good song a month, which means I have material for three to four albums and some singles, in various genres which I am going to release in the coming year. Now that my business is going well and I have enough material to choose from, I decided it was time to try and reach people who might dig the songs, so I started looking into ways to promote my music.
“Close Your Eyes,” from the new EP, Infinite, is a particular favorite. The song has sophisticated musical textures, soaring guitar leads and subtly evocative vocal work. Did you perform all of the instruments and sing? How about the mixing and production?
I’m thrilled that you like it. It’s definitely the feature song of the EP. And yes, I do it all myself in my home studio. I play guitars, bass, keys but unfortunately not the drums, because I can’t fit a kit in my studio. But I do program all the drums myself. I also sing as well. Although I don’t feel like a singer as such, I try to make it work. I feel more like a songwriter-composer-arranger these days. I really enjoy having the ability to build sonic soundscapes with all sorts of effects and synths. I love producing and mixing and in the past few years I’ve learned a lot about audio engineering, so I mix all my songs. I’m a bit of a control freak with a pretty clear idea of how I want things to sound, so I enjoy working in a DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] and spending time perfecting my tunes until they are close enough to what I hear in my head.
The accompanying song videos on YouTube also are expertly done. Who creates the videos for your songs?
The official video for “Close Your Eyes” was done by Gareth Key, who is a video artist in the UK. I met him through www.radarmusicvideos.com. We worked on another video which has not been released yet. It will be for the next album. I liked his style, so I decided to go with Gareth for future videos. We’ve done this one on a very tight budget, but it looks good. We tried to fit within a narrative that is a bit abstract and evocative at the same time. The other videos I’ve done myself using public domain sources, so they are not as interesting. But nowadays, it is crucial to have a video for all the songs you release since YouTube is still the number one source of music discovery.
Why the name Ghostly Beard?
When I started thinking about promoting my music, I searched for my own name, but the domain name was taken. The same happened with most of the social media accounts as well. So, I looked for a moniker that would be evocative yet fun. I was looking for “Invisible Something” because that’s what I am basically, in the Internet ocean. I’ve built my website around images of shadows because that’s where I like to be. And oh, yes, I do have a beard.
I found this icon of a beard on The Noun Project, so I bought the license to it. I like that it looks like a beard, or a ghost, or a mask, depending on how you look at it. Who knows? One day, it might make for a great tee-shirt.
What’s next for Ghostly Beard?
There are plenty of things to come. I have a plan which includes two more album releases, music licensing, more videos and promotion, all within a year’s time frame. Then I’ll continue to write and record, of course.
The second album release, around Oct., will be a lot more jazz oriented; so hopefully it will not disappoint people who expect similar sounds to the current EP. Actually, it’s one of the challenges that I face. I love all sorts of music and love to write and play in different styles, but it can be disorienting to listeners. For me if it sounds good, it is good, whatever the genre. You could say it’s always progressive music, in the sense that the term was known in the seventies mainly as a blend of all sorts of influences. Eclectic-ism is something that was the norm then and I very much embrace that.
The third album, due in Apr. next year, is going to be more classic rock-oriented with songs that fit my jazz tendencies and prog-rock background. This hopefully should reconcile the people who liked the first EP, but not the second album, or vice-versa. I hope that will have gained enough of an organic following by then so that it reaches its audience.