It is now a year since the first Mix of the month was presented on Alarm! Freddy Ruppert has taken care of the latest edition of this podcast series. Freddy is living in Prague nowadays since moving from Los Angeles few years ago. He is best known for his collaborative project Former Ghosts featuring names like Zola Jesus, Jamie Stewart, Carla Bozulich or TEARIST. Former Ghosts, as well as his previous project This Song Is a Mess But So Am I, is a very emotional thing which is dealing with deeply intimate issues. One can label these projects with synthpop tag on it, but as far as his new stuff released under his own name goes, you can expect experimental music with minimal approach or brutal almost industrial-like music. His mix made for Alarm contains tracks which are close to his heart and one of his own!
1. Scorn - Told You Can Tell
2. Reinhold Friedl - Evasions Pour Deplaire
3. Rabit - Red Candles
4. D Tiberio - Let Her
5. Xiu Xiu - Cinthya’s Unisex
6. Nitzer Ebb - Getting Closer
7. Youth Code - Wear the Wounds
8. Freddy Ruppert - Mary
9. Twins - Dead and Forgotten
10. Circuit Des Yeux - Lithonia
11. Arthur Russell - Losing My Taste For the Night Life
12. Crass - Deadhead
13. Duke Ellington - Fleurette Africane
Why did you decide to move to Prague? How would describe life in Prague from your own perspective? What do you like about it and what do you hate about it?
I moved to Prague to ask someone to marry me, because I was and still am deeply in love with them.
It took me awhile, actually a really long time to love living in Prague. I sort of loved it before I had moved here, then after moving here I hated it, and now I really love it and can't really imagine myself living in Los Angeles again. It's sort of silly, but I think when you move to somewhere so totally different than what you are used to it just takes time to find your own things that you love and your own place in that new place. I love that the visual art and music scene in Prague is so overlapping. I think there are a lot of people here doing very interesting things. At the same time, it bothers me that it feels so small to me. On the other hand that can also at times be a good thing.
Apart from your very early project This Song Is a Mess But So Am I i think you’re well-known especially for your collaborative band Former Ghosts. I noticed that after two album on Upset! The Rhythm label you’re planning to release the second split album since “New Love” album. How does this project function nowadays. Is it still the collaboration of different artists like on your first two albums?
Yeah, actually since New Love there have been a few Former Ghosts things, a few songs posted on Soundcloud like a collab with Annie Lewandowski, one with Carla Bozulich and one where I sing, and a split 7” with Whitman also featuring Annie Lewandowski on vocals. Now there will be a split 7” with Funeral Advantage, who are also friends and a band I really like. It is weird for me to think about how Former Ghosts functions nowadays. It still works as a collaborative project, definitely. It just works on a sort of different level now than it did during the release of those first two records. I don’t feel a want to really tour ever again and I don’t feel such an urgency to explore the themes related to Former Ghosts anymore. So I would say the project more slowly evolves now at a sort of snails pace in a way. I also think not many people want to release physical objects from a project that doesn’t want to tour anymore and that is understandable.
People usually associate you with synthpop genre, but with your solo project you sometimes tend to be more experimental. At times more quiet with hum, cracks and minimal instrument approach, sometimes more brutal and industrial-like. What influences your decision how your record gonna sound? Does this solely depend on the theme you want to express?
I think it’s weird, maybe sad in a way, but when I work on something for Former Ghosts I already kind of know what it is going to sound like before working on it. In terms of themes, approach and sound it sort of falls into a certain realm. Under my own name, I feel a sort of libreation in terms of being able to do whatever I want at that exact time. I don’t feel burdened by some expectation of what I am doing is supposed to sound like. So in a way, under my own name, I can kind of do whatever, and that feels great. It feels like each thing you do sort of finds its own small audience.
You still maintain kind of singer songwriter concept of creating music though. Are the lyrics the most important aspect of your music-creating process?
No, the lyrics aren’t the most important part. I think, sometimes I am in a singer songwriter mood so I'm more drawn towards song structure, melody and vocals. Sometimes I am drawn in the opposite direction and want to make something that is not musical at all. I would like to be able to continue that under my own name as sort of doing whatever I am drawn to at the time. I think this means probably less people follow what I am doing as maybe only certain things appeal to certain people’s tastes, but it also means I can do whatever I want. It just feels more honest to me.
I noticed that you’re writing a short stories and you’re planning to release some of it. Can you tell us more about this?
Yeah, I have a few short stories already published on some webzines. I also released a small chapbook put out by Solar Luxuriance limited to fifty handmade copies called Reverse Pieta, but that is completely sold out. I will have a short story in the print magazine Caketrain, which I believe will be released towards the end of this year. In my head I always think that I will write a novel, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. I’d like to do another chapbook at some point.
You work here as IT guy. What are pros and cons for musician doing full-time job, which is not related to music?
The pros are that you can create what you want when you want without worrying about how what you are creating is going to pay your rent. Once money is tied to what you are creating it has to be corrupted in some sense. Ultimately, I think working another job at the same time as doing music is more liberating and more open in the end. The cons are that you have less time to work on things as it is outside of your normal work schedule. And sometimes after a full day of work I just want to go home and zone out for a bit and not think about or work on anything.
Do you think that musician nowadays, which is not signed on some major label, can live of from his music?
Yes, you don’t have to be on a major label to make a living from music, but I think that sort of living is not easy. You are living month to month, struggling, barely able to survive, not able to afford health insurance, accumulating debts, having to sacrifice some sort of DIY ethics by placing your songs in commericals or TV shows that remove your art from the context. I’m not saying that is everyone’s deal. Some people don’t mind doing those sorts of things and have no qualms about them. In the end you pick and choose your own battles.
What do you plan for the near future music-wise? Any shows, releases coming up?
There is a solo show coming up with Xiu Xiu in Prague on October 31st at Podnik. As far as releases, there is the Former Ghosts split 7” with Funeral Advantage. I also am working on a cassette release under my own name for the local label.
Can you please tell us more about the mix you made for our website? Any special bits in the mix you’d highlight?
The mix is sort of a collection of things I have been listening to lately - things I have been revisiting. I’d like to highlight Losing My Taste for the Nightlife by Arthur Russell because it is a song that has never left my constant rotation since originally hearing it. Ultimately sad and ultimately perfect.