The UK based recording label Ghost Box has played a crucial role in helping keep alive a special breed of indie company. That breed could be characterized not only by a will to simply function as a quality check by selecting the best within hundreds of demos and maintain a recognizable genre consistency, but also by managing to create a distinctive and unique sound and iconic universe that make all new records released by a very restricted group of artists feel like a new installment of a consistent narrative. Music-wise most of the acts on the label work in an original milieu inspired by vintage synths, obscure library music, pastoral folk, old-style orchestral jazz, BBC radiophonic workshop, and experimental pop music from the ’60s. Julian House (co-owner of the label and recording artists with the name of The Focus Group) takes care of the visual part of the label with designs (often using the collage technique) which contribute to the expansion of this collectively generated micro-universe in expansion with estranging visions of ’70s pop (the Ghost Box of the name being a reference to TV) with references to the pagan, the occult and weird science fiction to create an alternative, mixed and mashed and edited Britannia. The latest releases are two 7” inches from the interesting “Study Series”: the first from Hintermass (containing what appears to be the closest thing to traditional song format appeared on Ghost Box so far) and the second from the Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records. On the occasion of these latest release, we took the opportunity to have a brief chat with co-owner Jim Jupp (also musician with the name Belbury Poly).
Francesco Tenaglia: What is the curatorial concept behind the Study Series 7” records?
Jim Jupp: The idea behind the Study Series was for us to be able to release side projects, collaborations and material that our artists have worked on between albums. It also gives us a chance to work with artists whom we like, but whose work wouldn’t necessarily fit into the Ghost Box world as a normal release. The cover art and name was inspired by a 1970s BBC series of educational albums for schools. When we get to maybe 12 or 14 singles we plan to release a compilation album of the highlights of the series.
FT: Could you please say a few words about the two new releases of this series?
JJ: Study Series no.5 is by Hintermass a new collaboration between Tim Felton of Seeland (and before that a member of Broadcast) and Jon Brooks of The Advisory Circle. These are the first real pop songs on Ghost Box and we believe they make a nice addition to our catalog– very new for us but also very in keeping with our world. We hope to release more material by Hintermass in 2012 probably an EP to begin with. No.6 features our friend Jonny Trunk from the re-issue Trunk Records. Jonny has occasionally released his own material on Trunk and we asked him to record something for us in a style where the aesthetics of his label overlapped with ours. He came up with these tracks that sounded to our ears like early British electronic library music that would perhaps be used on a stop motion children’s animation. The title Train Fantome and the cover image come from Julian House’s partner’s fabric design toys store ( http://letrainfantome-notes.blogspot.com/ ).
FT: How has the experience of running Ghost Box been, so far, and what are your future plans?
JJ: Ghost Box is more than just a record label for us, it operates more as a collective of creatives and producers, each release seems part of a bigger picture to us and expands on the imaginary world we’re building. It’s a challenge to keep the label limited to artists we know that understand what we do completely, sometimes it’s regrettable when we have to pass on a great demo or artist because we feel they don’t quite fit our narrow aesthetic boundaries. This is something we stand by though and is maybe what makes us unique. The next release on Ghost Box will be an album by The Advisory Circle titled “As The Crow Flies” in June this year. Then in late summer / early autumn we’ll have the new album from Belbury Poly. There are also more Study Series singles in the pipeline and Jon Brooks and myself have just started on a collaboration with a hero of ours, John Foxx, a legend of British electronic music– this should see the light of day in early 2012.