Y the Ghost is the pop persona of Kansas City resident Jacoby Elliott. Over the past few years, Y the Ghost has craftily released a small handful of music and short films, with each new release reflecting an increased level of creativity and confidence. The latest chapter in an ongoing "dramatic / romanticized / idealized snapshot" of his life is the new synthpop single "Dark." It's a pleasure to catch up with Elliott to discuss his latest work and what's ahead for Y the Ghost in 2017.
Introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
I currently live in the heart of Kansas City. I kind of live a Hannah Montana lifestyle except I only talk about the pop star part ;)
Tell us about your new single "Dark." How does it connect with and build on the two previous chapters?
Each chapter is a dramatic / romanticized / idealized snapshot of my life in that current moment. My first single "Is Anybody Out There" was essentially a bottle in the ocean (aka the internet) and "Can U Hear Me?" was the message on the note inside. I think the bottle is still floating around in cyber space somewhere and will hopefully be found washed up on a beach someday. In the meantime, "Dark" marks the beginning of my actual descent into the physical world / the unknown. I've never taken this project out into the real world before but something about consciousness in 2016 has really shifted my priorities and my mindset. Something is giving me a sense of urgency to connect with people face to face .. but it's not necessarily a dooming feeling. It's wildly positive. Just urgent. I can't quite explain it currently but I'm gonna start following that instinct and living it.
Where was "Dark" recorded? Did you try anything differently this time?
I don't like to reveal too much about the recording process for the same reasons a magician would protect their illusion, but I will say that this is the very first time I have attempted production all on my own. Previously I would take several of my own drafts to different studios to tweak and master, but I've had some time to work on my own skills as a producer rather than being primarily a performer and songwriter. I'm much more self-sufficient now. The strings used in the instrumental (cello played by Cale Cindric) were recorded a few years ago when I was just starting to write my own music. I was much more lost then, but this year I finally felt equipped enough to complete a track that would do those dusty old string tracks justice. That sense of urgency I spoke of before has given me a newfound power and confidence that I've never truly had until now.
What were your biggest musical discoveries in 2016?
Honestly my biggest discoveries this year were locals. I was pleasantly surprised to find more Kansas City musicians currently making what could (hopefully not in reductive terms) be considered "pop". I'm currently really impressed with Scammers, Casey Guest, Black Creatures, Coastless, and Ashley Ultra. (The last 3 are playing my debut house show on the 12/30!) On a wider scale, I felt really refreshed and healed by the return to earth/American humanity in Lady Gaga's "Joanne". Our culture really needed that this year and I hope no one misses out on it because of whatever image they may have in their mind of what they think Gaga is supposed to be. (Yes, I am one of those people)
What can fans expect in terms of more music and performances from you in 2017?
I think things are aligning exactly how they're supposed to in the time frame that is best for me in relationship to my environment. I'm gonna start using my shows to test out a lot tracks and tricks I've had up my sleeve for a while now. I think it's safe to say you can expect larger chunks of music being released simultaneously in 2017, some wild performances, and hopefully more videos!
Jacoby Elliott's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
Junk by M83
Stranger Things: V1 (OST)
Sound Of My Voice (DVD)
Screws Get Loose by Those Darlins
Wounded Rhymes by Lykke Li
I Never Learn by Lykke Li
Joanne by Lady Gaga
This Is What The Truth Feels Like by Gwen Stefani