This is our first English Interview in Synth Enthusiast Interviews series which hopefully follow with many more.
aux animaux – A duo from Sweden combines Ghosty the thereminist who brought Bosphorus warmth from Istanbul with haunting voice to Northern Europe and Jons who is synthesizer wizard.
1) Can you briefly talk about yourselves?
Ghosty: Hi, I am Ghosty. I sing, play the bass and the theremin in the DIY band aux animaux. I am also the co-producer. I was born and raised in Istanbul, but I have been residing in Stockholm for over 10 years, with a brief break where I lived in Strasbourg for a while.
Jons: Hi, I’m Jons. I am the synthesizer guy and the co-producer in aux animaux. I am born and raised in Stockholm, although I lived in other places for a while before.
2) How did you get into music?
Ghosty: I took music classes for a brief period as a kid, but I am pretty much self-thought. It really started with a high school band, where I played electric guitar initially, and then switched to the bass. That was followed by another band in university. Then I started playing in various bar bands in Istanbul, and I did that for several years. After that I played bass for a famous pop-rock singer in Turkey for a couple of years, which meant an intense schedule of touring. We played about 250 gigs in two years both in Turkey and places in Europe.
I took a big break from music after I moved to Sweden, as it took some time to settle and build a new life. Briefly after I met Jons, I threw out the idea of starting a band together, which he took seriously, and that’s how aux animaux was born at the Christmas of 2015. It took us some time to find our sound, learn all the technical stuff as neither of us really had much experience with DAWs or synths at the beginning.
Jons: I used to play classical piano as a kid, and that made me dislike music for a very long time because of the conservative approach to music. I stopped playing music for a long time until I met Ghosty who lead me back to music. again.
3) Can you talk about synths you have right now?
Jons: I have Roland Juno 60, Moog sub 37, and Dreadbox Erebus. They each serve different functions, and I like them all of them a lot. I also have a Korg Volca, a home-made synth that I built myself, Teenage Engineering pocket operator drum machine. I use various effect pedals from Eventide, Moog and Elektron.
Ghosty: My main “synth” is the Moog theremini. I also have Novation Bass station II, Korg Microkorg and a pocket operator from Teenage Engineering at home.
4) What’s your first synth?
Ghosty: I actually had a Yamaha synth as a kid. I think it was a PSR-48.
Jons: A Korg Volca that I still have, but don’t use so much. I have used it in some other projects.
5) What’s your favorite synth?
Ghosty: I do love a Moog Voyager or a Mini Moog. I am also intrigued about Dave Smith’s OB-6.
Jons: I have room in my heart for all synths, haha!
6) A synth you would like to have but don’t?
Jons: Korg Monopoly.
Ghosty: The vintage Oberheim Two Voice synths are pretty cool.
7) Analogue or digital?
Ghosty & Jons: Both!
8) Your synthesizer hero?
Ghosty & Jons : Geoff Barrow!!!
9) Your favorite song, synth riff or solo?
Jons: Air made a cover of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. I love the solo there.
Ghosty: That’s a tough question. I will pass on this one because I don’t have a favorite, but many that I absolutely love!
10) Can you talk about your projects?
Ghosty: We have just released a new single with aux animaux and a music video for our song Phonophobia from our upcoming EP Stockholm Synthrome, which we hope to release later in the spring. We have some gigs coming up in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Bristol and London later in the spring as well. We really want to play in Istanbul sometime.
Up until Phonophobia, we have done everything ourselves from producing the songs to recording, mixing and mastering. This time we decided to co-work with others, so Phonophobia was mixed by our friend Lars Villumsen in Copenhagen, who did a fantastic job, and the mastering was made by Boombastic studios in Sweden.
I also have recently started a side project with David from Jupiter-C, one of Invada record’s bands. David’s band broke up recently, and I really got into dark wave and cold wave, which he is also into. He lives in Amsterdam for now and we were inspired by his friends’ band Algiers (whom I also got to be friends with recently), who live in different cities, such as Atlanta, New York and London. So, we thought we can do something together without actually residing in the same country. It’s a project that’s really at an infant stage right now, so we’ll see how it goes. David will also remix one of our songs in the upcoming EP.
Moreover, I have a solo project called Ghosty, where I released a song called Norway, which I played, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered myself that is only on Soundcloud. That project is sort of on hold right now as aux animaux is already taking up most of my time as I take care of all the booking, social media, and PR completely by myself on side of working with the musical part. But I do have it in the back of my head if I want to do something more by myself in the future. It’s definitely nice to co-work with others as it pushes you to think outside the box, but it’s nice to have total control in the creative process as well.
11) What kind of roles do you have in the band?
Ghosty: As opposed to the contemporary norm, we don’t have the traditional roles where Jons takes care of the music and I sing. We both work with production and arrangement. Surely Jons works with programming the synths more heavily, and I write the lyrics by myself. We interfere with each other’s creative processes also as long as it makes sense.
12) You use the theremin on during your live performances, how did you come up with that idea?
Ghosty: Our live performances are a bit different than the album version, as the theremin appears in many of our songs. I think I had seen the theremin for the first time about 10-11 years ago on a Youtube video. That sort of stuck. Then when Jons and I first started aux animaux, we were having Youtube marathons of other synth artists live performances for inspirations. That’s when we saw Dorit Chrysler’s video performing at Cern with her Moog theremini. After that I decided to get one. I found other thereminists that used it on YouTube and learnt how to play it based on their videos, and then added my own touch. On stage I use it both experimentally but also for playing melodies with pure notes. The audience loves it, there are always a few people who are curious and approach me after the gig to inquire what instrument I was playing and how it works. It’s not very common in our genre to use the theremin either, so we like to have something that distinguishes us a bit.