Milwaukee based band Guerrilla Ghost is Rapper Bad Graphics Ghost (Chuck Jones) and Producer Tron Jovi (Martin Defatte). They just released the second single THE IMMIGRANT SONG from their upcoming album WE GET WHAT WE DESERVE on Triple Eye Industries.
Here are 10 Questions with Bad Graphics Ghost:
Q: You and Martin had your own musical careers before Guerrilla Ghost. Tell me about your beginnings and what brought you together?
A: I've been writing and performing music since I was 15 years old. I started playing drums and doing vocals in different bands, with styles ranging from hardcore to death metal to noise rock. In my mid 20's, after a couple tours and flirting with record labels, I decided to switch gears and start creating hip hop, a genre I've loved since youth. I released a couple projects, one of which caught attention of Francisco, who co-own Triple Eye Industries, the label Guerrilla Ghost is signed with. Four years ago, he introduced me to Martin during a local street festival here in Milwaukee under the guise that we HAD to work together, I suppose he saw the promise in our collaboration before we even realized it. Martin also had extensive background in hardcore and noise rock bands but was looking to branch out and find an emcee to work with as he recently started dabbling in hip hop production. He sent me some instrumentals a couple days later, much of which eventually became our debut EP. We've been releasing material ever since.
Q: So who writes what? (Music, lyrics, beats?)
A: Martin handles all the production. He composes and performs most of the instrumentation, aside from guest drummers that lend their talents during the recording process. I write all of the lyrics, aside from any guest vocalists or emcees that are featured on a particular track, and I also conduct the vocal harmonies and placement in the songs.
Q: How do you describe your music to people who have never heard you?
A: We like to use the term 'noise rap' to describe our sound. It's very aggressive and dissonant. We use mainly minor keys when writing songs and try to draw from our experience in bands to create something that sounds extremely heavy without the traditional means. I tend to compare our sound to Rage Against The Machine meets Nine Inch Nails, that is the best mainstream example I could give to someone unknowing of popular underground music. Currently, fans of ours have likened our sound to Death Grips, JPEGMAFIA and Run The Jewels.
Q: What’s the point of your music? What’s your purpose that drives you as an artist?
A: The purpose of Guerrilla Ghost and my purpose as an artist is to create something with a message, something that has deep meaning. I draw from personal experiences and trauma to speak from my heart and pass along as much positive energy as I can. I want the music to be a support system, a beacon of hope, the proof that no matter what we're going through individually or as a group, that we are not alone and there will always be a better day. I want the music to be there for anyone who needs it, especially in times of crisis. With the current state of affairs the world, it's imperative to raise attention and awareness to the many injustices and senseless acts of violence that are plaguing mankind. Guerrilla Ghost have been and will always be advocates for fostering change in the community and we will always strive to be a resource for women, people of color and our friends in the LGBTQ+ community to have their voices heard and counted.
Q: You are based in Milwaukee, WI. What’s the music scene like there?
A: Milwaukee is a very diverse city with many different cultures and I think the music scene represents that as well. We have numerous venues that host local musicians along with drawing well known national acts. Before the pandemic changed the local music industry, there wasn't a weekend where there weren't numerous concerts you could attend with a wide range of eclectic artists performing. For the most part, artists here thrive when it comes to networking outside their respective bubbles and are actively engaged in some form of charity or community programs. It's a beautiful thing to be involved in.
Q: What song can’t you get out of your head lately?
A: "Optimistic" by Sounds Of Blackness
Q: Do you think of recording and performing as separate animals? Which do you prefer?
A: They are definitely separate animals. When writing and recording, the focus is more on getting the parts of the greater whole to fit cohesively and create something palatable. There is a lot of experimentation to get the message and the music to stand together yet shine on their own. When performing live, the focus is on translating the music into something the audience can become immersed in and feel like they have an active contribution. It's finding a way to become a spectacle and make the music larger than life. It's the ability to become engaged with people who may or may not be familiar with your art and find common ground and bond together through the urgency of the moment. I'm personally a bit more fond of performing live, but all aspects of being a musician have my gratitude and I'm thankful to have connected with anyone in this way.
Q:Tell us about your latest release?
A: Our sophomore album "We Get What We Deserve" will be released July 31st via Triple Eye Industries. The entire process of creation and execution took the greater part of a year, with the last parts of the album finished during the initial quarantine order due to Covid-19. It has a more commercial feel than our previous album in the fact that we focused more on writing actual songs with melodies and structure rather than creating abstract audio compositions with darker themes and tones. Martin really outdid himself with the production, taking a more minimalistic approach and incorporating more layered textures than previous releases. This album has a much more soulful feel, thanks to amazing vocal performances from longtime local collaborators Mario Lanza and Commakazee, as well as Katana Da Don from Minneapolis. We have featured verses from local heavyweight emcees Armstrong Ransom and Taiyamo Denku, our good friends Rec Riddles from St. Louis and Carnage The Executioner from Minneapolis and most notably hip hop legend Kool Keith. The subject matter on the album ranges from topics like police brutality, sex trafficking, immigration and the spread of misinformation on the internet. I also speak about personal tribulations such as depression, co-parenting and addiction. We will be releasing three singles from the album before it's official arrival at the end of the month. I believe this is some of our strongest material to date and I look forward to sharing it with everyone and hearing the feedback.
Q: Is it possible for you to separate music from the political, or is it the same for you?
A: It is possible, but it's not something I'm currently interested in. Art is a reflection of society and the world around us and there's too much unrest right now to turn a blind eye to what's happening. The first release we did was titled "Make Amerikkka Great Again" and was released on Donald Trump's inauguration day, so right from the start we established ourselves and our brand as outspoken activists and fans of our music have come to expect that from us. When the day comes where everyone is dancing hand in hand under a rainbow, maybe then we'll make happy go lucky pop songs about kittens and falling in love. Until then, we'll continue to denounce injustice and inequality in our particular fashion.
Q: What’s next for you guys?
A: We are currently experimenting with live streaming exclusive performances to stay engaged with our fan base. We have some material that was not included on our new album that we're going to release in some way or another. We are also starting the storyboarding process for some music videos to accompany the new album. As always, we are spending time with our families and our community when we can by donating our time to different projects and causes. We love Milwaukee and want to do our part to help the community and it's residents lead the best lives we all can.
WE GET WHAT WE DESERVE is out on Triple Eye Industries on July 31, 2020.