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Gloom-pop duo Ghost Twin makes soundtracks in need of films

Monday 29th, February 2016 / 02:01
By Julijana Capone
Witchy synthwave duo Ghost Twin performing live. Photo: Robert Szkolnicki.

Witchy synthwave duo Ghost Twin performing live.
Photo: Robert Szkolnicki.

CALGARY — Retro sleaze ball synths buzz around eerie baroque vocals on Here We Are In the Night, the debut effort of Ghost Twin, the gloom-pop project of husband-and-wife duo Jaimz and Karen Asmundson, also known for their experimental film work.

The short film Goths! On the Bus!, a comedy directed by Jaimz and Karen released in 2010, would be the impetus for Ghost Twin’s formation a few years later.

It was the first project where the two had shared film credits, and the first time they had collaborated on a piece of music.

“It wasn’t really a Ghost Twin song,” says Karen of the jokey track in the film inspired by Bauhaus’s “Bela Legosi’s Dead” and Marilyn Manson. “We would never perform that live.”

But, Jaimz adds, “We had so much fun working on it together that we knew we worked well together… It was a natural progression to go from film to music together.”

By 2013, the duo had played their first show, and with Karen’s art/noir-pop band, Querkus, having recently split, the timing was right to get serious about a new creative endeavor.

Despite her classical training as a pianist, Karen handles guitar duties for Ghost Twin while Jaimz plays synth.

“In this project I don’t play any piano at all,” says Karen. “It has been a really eye-opening experience to try and simplify my ideas, because a guitar is something I have a rudimentary ability with.”

Working with producer Michael Petkau Falk (of defunct indie-pop band Les Jupes and head honcho at Head in the Sand records), the couple’s brand of synthwave brims with darkness.

“We knew he was a secret goth,” says Karen of why the producer was a good fit for their sound. “His first band when he was really young was a goth band and we remembered that… He also has such an amazing skill set for production and recording.”

Cult cinema fetishists will likely feel drawn to the duo’s cinematic arrangements that incorporate synth-heavy creepiness and a hypnotic vibe.

If Julee Cruise (the haunting voice behind the Twin Peaks theme song) provided vocals for the soundtrack of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, the result would probably sound like the EP’s title track, “Here We Are in the Night,” which was recently released with a wildly creative video drenched in mysticism from director Gwen Trutnau (KEN mode, Chica Boom Boom).

“We just kind of let her take us wherever her imagination wanted to go,” says Karen. “She loves to build props and puppets and costumes. She lives in a really crazy aesthetic world, so we let her do what she does.”

Given their backgrounds as filmmakers, Ghost Twin’s live shows are a musical and aesthetic feast for the senses. Using a special program and video processor that transmits images from digital to analog, Jaimz is able to perform music live while triggering a barrage of visuals and video clips.

“It’s like this very weird, colourful video art,” says Jaimz. “Most of our songs are about strange topics, like supernatural or occult topics, so there’s a lot of clips drawn from experimental film and horror movies.”

“As a filmmaker, I can’t help but think cinematically,” he adds. “I’m always thinking what can I use for visuals in this song as I’m writing it?”

Ghost Twin performs at The Knndy on March 12, the West End Cultural Centre on April 2, and the Handsome Daughter on April 17 (all dates in Winnipeg). Explore more Ghost Twin music via ghosttwin.com or visit their Bandcamp page to purchase tunes or their VHS mixtape with live analog video art.

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