Photo Courtesy of GHOST GRL
By Lily Doolin, WERS Blog Editor
Although live mixes here at 88.9 are indefinitely canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we're not stopping Wicked Local Wednesday (WLW), our weekly program dedicated to bringing you music and interviews with artists in the Boston/New England area. Tune in at 9 pm every Wednesday night to hear two songs each by two local artists!
To learn more about the artists you hear on WLW, check here weekly on our WERS Music Blog for interviews with them! In this interview, GHOST GRL, aka Gianna Botticelli, spoke to WERS Blog Editor Lily Doolin about her most recent EP, Rewired, defeating writer's block, and how life falling apart can lead to some really great music.
Check out our past WLW interviews here!
I wanted to know more about what's behind the creation of GHOST GRL and that persona. Who is GHOST GRL, and what was the motivation for creating this project?
Gianna Botticelli: I used to play solo stuff just under my actual name, which is Gianna Botticelli, but people would think it was classical music based on the name, something really pretty and elegant (laughs). Then, I would just be playing really sad stuff. One of my friends was just joking around, saying, "You should change it to something else, you should change it to 'ghost girl.'" We joked around about it for a bit, but then I decided I kind of felt like I resonated with it because I've always been someone that's been really bullied and just sort of stood in a corner of the room, kind of awkward and shy. So, I said, "Okay," because it was kind of ironically a good fit. I just thought it went really well with the stuff that I write; Most of it is sad, ambient kind of stuff with a lot of feelings, and I was like, "Well, I think that flows really nicely," so we just decided that we were gonna stick with it.
Yeah, the classical genre is definitely not your vibe (laughs). But I do really love the vibe you're putting out there. Reading your bio on your website and listening to your music, you talk a lot about making people want to feel something, and to discover emotions and feelings within themselves. What was the desire to create that kind of music? Why make the project based on this motivation?
GB: I think that people - when they interact with other people that they're not super close with - have a habit of acting like everything's okay. It's kind of standard for people to be like, "Oh, hey, how are you?" and for people to say, "Good," or, "I'm okay." No one's actually going to say, "I'm actually having a terrible time and my entire life is falling apart" (laughs). I just wanted to make it more of a normal thing - I wanted people to be able to resonate with the stuff that I write, and feel that it's okay, or normal, or socially acceptable sometimes to just be having a really difficult time and be really open about it.
I've only ever been able to write sad music, not that I've ever tried to write happy music, but it's never come to me naturally.
You have to write what you know. Listening to the most recent project you put out, the Rewired EP, it's that sad, ambient music, but it did make me feel stuff, which is what made me really appreciate it. I wanted to know a bit more about the process of Rewired, of writing and producing it.
GB: I wrote all of the songs for Rewired over the course of a couple of years. I can't really write about things until they've gone by for the most part, until they've already happened, so a lot of them are just kind of stories about things that happened to me a couple of years ago, putting it all together lyrically. I wanted to pair them with music that had equal feelings. I feel like the music can really speak just as well as the lyrics, so I wanted to make sure that the music was super ambient, had a lot of guitar solos and stuff like that. Putting those two things together, I went into the studio with Kevin [Klein] from Valleyheart, and he helped me add a lot of emo-type vibes since his band is like that. He put a lot of additional guitar in there, and some really awesome deep sound effects and stuff like that. I also worked really closely with Alex Allinson from The Bridge Sound & Stage. The three of us created Rewired. But like I said, it took a couple of years to compile enough songs that I felt would fit with the project, because I wanted them all to have the same kind of vibe.
"Living Room" was the one I had the hardest time with, because the song itself is about having your world falling apart all at once. The person that I was dating was transitioning to the gender they felt that they were at the time, and it wasn't the gender they were born with. Their parents were getting a divorce, so there was just a lot going on, and we were both losing our sense of home and discovering who we were as people, so I was just kind of trying to support them through that, in becoming who they were, and through their parents' divorce, while also losing my sense of home, because I was living from house to house at the time. It was kind of just a lot, and I wanted to make sure that the album captured that song in particular. It's sort of just a big bunch of feelings I guess (laughs).
I was gonna ask if you had a song that you felt connected to the most on this EP, or even a song that taught you something, whether it's about music in general or about yourself personally. Would you say "Living Room" is that song for you?
GB: I would say that song is probably it because at the time all of that was happening I was just a teenager, I was probably like sixteen or seventeen. That was a huge learning experience for me, just trying to put all of that into one song. There were just so many topics I was trying to fit into one song, so musically it taught me that was a possibility - to be able to touch on multiple things within one song and make all of it relative. It also taught me a lot about myself. Like I said, I was young, and I didn't really have much experience with things getting shaken up for me, and it sort of happened for me all at once. I think that was good for me, in a sense.
I wanted to transition to current events. What are you doing right now to keep the light on with your project?
GB: Currently, I've been doing a lot of Facebook Live, which is something I've never done before. I've been doing a lot of those. I actually like what it's doing for the music community in general. I think a lot more people are tuning in to each other's content - which is awesome - and just sharing other people's stuff. I've mostly just been sitting in and doing that and also writing. I had really bad writer's block for a while, and I finally finished writing a song, so that's been good. I've had nothing to do except sit in the living room for days on end (laughs).
(Laughs) I feel that for sure. How long was that period of writer's block and did you have anything that particularly snapped you out of it?
GB: It was a song that I started a couple of months ago, and I had been trying to finish it, but nothing was really flowing. I had the writer's block for months, probably four or five months. With my normal schedule, I have to go to sleep pretty early, but now, with everything being the way it is, there really are no rules anymore, so I was just staying up really late, which is sort of when I write best anyway. So, it finally started to flow in the late hours of the night.
Due to widespread event cancellations, music makers are struggling. With media support from WERS, The Record Company has established a fund to provide financial relief to Boston area music makers due to COVID-19. To learn more about the fund and apply or donate, please visit therecordco.org/covid-19