Today is a special day. We are thrilled to be introducing you to a Scottish electronic duo that goes by the name of Gefahrgeist. Yes, I know. Spelling might be tricky at first, but once you hear what it means, it will be easier to connect the dots.
‘Nukular’ is the duo’s second single and we already shared our thoughts about it on our New Music Sunday review last week. From the moment I heard the track goosebumps took over and I closed my eyes and I was imagining that I am part of an apocalyptic movie. Sadly, it is the movie that we are all part of. Some of the stuff we see on the news does resemble the scenes from apocalyptic movies.
‘Nukular’ will give you goosebumpsINDIE TOP 39
You started your career during the year that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Tell us about the journey until your debut single ‘Graceless’ was released?
Fiona: We started working together pre-pandemic when we were regularly with our wedding band, The Apollos, and would often find ourselves on long drives together. Niall would pop on whatever he was working on in the car and I’d offer to sing on it (only to get repeatedly told no!). It was only when I sent over a couple of demos of what I was thinking that Niall agreed!
Niall: Then for the next couple of years, we worked on about ten tracks together. Sometimes Fi has a song she’s written that she sends me and I ‘electronify’ and sometimes I’ll have a beat that’s been sitting on my computer untouched for years and she’ll add lyrics to it.
Fiona: Since lockdown meant there were no gigs for a while, we actually found we had the time to finish a couple of the tracks and put them out.
In a weird way, the lockdown is the reason we started!Gefahrgeist
I got to ask what ‘Gefahrgeist’ means? (It took me a while to get the spelling right)
Niall: The phrase ‘Gefahrgeist’ literally means ‘Danger Spirit’. I borrowed it from a book by Michael R Fletcher called ‘Beyond Redemption’. We actually got in touch to ask if we could use it and he was kind enough to say yes!
How did the two of you meet and do you remember the moment you decided to start writing music together?
Fiona: We both went to Edinburgh Napier University to study Popular Music, but it wasn’t until we were both in The Apollos that we got to know each other and heard each other’s compositions.
Niall: Fiona doesn’t remember this, but we did actually meet in Uni after I performed very hungover at a recital. She came up after the performance and said I was really good. I think I played about two notes on the piano.
Fiona: Niall sent me a bunch of tracks he’d been working on, and I started writing and recording draft melodies to it. After months of him telling me no, I wasn’t expecting much. Turns out, he loved how it sounded!
We are living in the time that some could call apocalyptic and I got to admit ‘Nukular’ is a great soundtrack to that. Tell us more about the idea behind the song.
Fiona: I wrote ‘Nukular’ around the time that Trump was threatening to start bombing foreign countries in his weird Twitter arguments (around 2017). It sparked the idea in my mind of what someone like that would think if they could step into the destruction they created simply by pushing a button.
The result is a pretty bleak and selfish view of an apocalyptic wasteland. Avoid if you’re in need of cheering up!Gefahrgeist
You will be releasing the music video very soon. I know that when it comes to animated videos it takes much longer to create it. Who did you collaborate with and how did you come up with the concept?
Fiona: We collaborated with the same artist who animated our first music video for ‘Graceless’ – Tyler Mortimer (Blank Page Digital Art). Since ‘Graceless’, he’s done a number of videos for other artists so he’s learned a lot of new techniques that’ll be put to use in ‘Nukular’s video. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s very ‘Akira’ sort of anime style, but bleaker colours. We’re very excited to see the finished product!
What are you trying to achieve with your music? What’s the big dream?
Niall: To be able to write and make music as our main source of income.
Fiona: Bit of a shame that that’s a ‘big dream’ in this day and age, but that’s the industry we’re in. Until more regulation for streaming services is introduced and a fair pay for artists is established, we’ll throw our weight behind any cause advocating for a change in how the industry treats musicians currently. There’s too much ownership by big record labels taking all the revenue currently, which makes it impossible for indie artists to gain any profit. We think artists deserve a bigger slice of the pie than what these services are giving them – we’re the whole reason they exist, after all.
Until more regulation for streaming services is introduced and a fair pay for artists is established, we’ll throw our weight behind any cause advocating for a change in how the industry treats musicians currently.GEFAHRGEIST
Tell us more about your creative process. Fiona, do you bring the songs as complete ideas and then Niall takes over or are you doing it all together?
Fiona: It really depends. For the last two years, Niall has either brought me an instrumental he’s worked on and I’ve written lyrics for it, or I’ll write something on piano or guitar then pass it on to Niall. We’re the definition of ‘bedroom producers’!
Niall: I do all the hard stuff. I spend a good chunk of most days producing the tracks and calling Fi through to come listen to it. She’ll suggest a bunch of changes and we’ll discuss where we want the track to go. It’s not the most streamline process, but we get it done in the end!
What is the inspiration behind the haunting sound you are creating?
Fiona: I think it’s all the video game music we’ve heard! We’re big fans of games like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid, so I reckon a lot of it comes from their atmospheric, electronic soundtrack. I particularly love the soundtrack to Journey by Austin Wintory. It’s just so moving and carries you through the whole story of the game so elegantly.
Niall: I’d say the same. I wanted to be a film composer for a while until I realised it was cheaper to make something on Ableton than hire an orchestra. Once I’d gotten the hang of production, I started creating my own sound to be a blend of my orchestral composition and electronic influences. For a song like ‘Nukular’, it had to be ethereal and sparse almost.
Fiona: I’d actually originally written it with jaunty guitar behind it!
Niall: That was a dumb idea.
Imagine your song is licensed for TV/Film, what show/movie would you like it to be featured on?
Fiona: We know it’s over now, but the TV show ‘Dark’ was one of the most intriguing stories we’d watched in a while! The soundtrack plays a big role in the atmosphere of the show and I think a song like ‘Nukular’ slots right in there.
Niall: I still listen to the soundtrack a fair few times a week for ideas!
You had an impressive run with your debut single as it was featured on 50+ blogs. Any tips or strategies that you could share with others who are at the beginning of their journey?
Fiona: This is going to be a long answer, so feel free to cut it down!
A lot of it is just putting the time in and accepting that not everyone is going to get back to you or even like your song. The more contacts you send out, however, the stronger your chance of someone agreeing to promote it gets. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get a reply. That’s it!
I’d also say do some research into the blogs you’re contacting and see if they’re right for you first. When writing that first email, reference a particular article or review from them that you enjoyed.
Doing a bit of research and showing appreciation for their work really goes a long way in that ‘cold first encounter’.GEFAHRGEIST
Musosoup has also been super helpful in getting our song in front of bloggers with great reputations. Not sure if I’m allowed to say this, but maybe avoid sites like Submithub if you have a fragile ego – they can be a little brutal with feedback!
Another important thing to remember is that musicians support other musicians! Remember to share what indie songs you’re listening to right now and why you love them. Drop the artists a line and make connections! It means the world to them that you’re listening, so why not let them know? It shows your engaged in the indie community and not just posting ‘HEY LOOK AT MY STUFF’ without returning the favour.
Lastly, keep your chin up and don’t be discouraged by less than positive feedback. It’s all a learning process and you can’t please everyone. ‘Nukular’ is actually a good example of this – it’s not your typical pop song and it’s not going to get stuck in your head. Some people aren’t into that, but that’s okay!
What does success in the music industry mean to you?
Fiona: As Niall said, it’d be nice to be able to finance ourselves with it! Grants have been very good to us in terms of letting us be able to hire musicians and get things mastered, but until there’s a real change in the way artists are paid, it’s a little limiting as two out of work musicians (pandemic pending). Success in the music industry would be a proper change in the regulations of streaming services and fair rate of pay for the majority of artists and not just the select few funded by a label.
2020 has been an extremely challenging year. What kept you sane and how did the lockdown impact your creativity?
Fiona: Lockdown has actually given us the time to finish off a few tracks and get cracking with some new ones! Besides the band, I’ve also started reviewing indie tracks on my social media profiles in a series called ‘Shoutout Saturdays’. It’s encouraged me to get back listening to other artists and encourage more support for each other in the Scottish music community. I’m also releasing an album of covers for charity to raise awareness of female underrepresentation in the music industry called ‘Cover To Cover’ (out 5th March on Bandcamp). In short, I’ve just tried to keep busy!
Niall: We lived together for the majority of lockdown, so having company was a good way to keep sane and motivated about the music. I’m stuck up in Aberdeen now, however, so we’re having to chat about it over Zoom which feels odd. Once I’m back down in Edinburgh, we’re hoping to finish off some more tracks in the studio if the pandemic allows it.
Music to me is the thing I’m best atGEFAHRGEIST
Fiona: We have no idea where we’d be without music or what we’d be doing. We’re two creatives with very little other applicable skills! It’s also allowed me to write stories and process things a little easier than traditional writing. A large number of my friends write and perform spoken word poetry, which I could never do. Music just feels more natural to me!
Do you have a song that when you hear, you’d be ‘Damn I wish I’d written that’.
Niall: There’s too many to choose from! An example would be anything from Lushlife’s album ‘Ritualize’ or anything by Bonobo.
Fiona: I’d love to have written anything by Joni Mitchell. Particularly ‘Free Man In Paris’. I think she taught me that songs didn’t just have to be about love or heartbreak. You can tell stories with them and be funny with them, and they’re just as compelling (if not more so).
Close your eyes. Imagine its 20th of January 2022. How would you summarize 2021? (what do you want it to be?)
Fiona: I finally went to a gig again!
Niall: I finally got paid for a gig again!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
Fiona: You can catch our latest single ‘Nukular’ on all streaming services. We’re hoping to drop a couple of EPs this year, so make sure to follow us on Spotify or on our social media profiles to hear updates on it. We’re looking forward to sharing more music with you – maybe even performing it live!
Make sure to connect with Gefahrgeist
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