We had the pleasure of interviewing BLACK SANDS following the excellent release of ‘Old Ghosts’. Enjoy now!
Tell us about yourself?
I’m an American-expat living in Amsterdam with my partner and two small dachshunds Rudiger and Chorizo (you can stalk my personal Instagram if you want to see nothing but dog photos.) I moved from sunny California 4 years ago to Amsterdam to work in the entertainment industry and have been loving life here. I’m also a big fan of the NBA and American sports, and happy to talk Lebron or Giannis with anyone who is also a fan.
Tell us about your latest release ‘Old Ghosts’?
Old Ghosts is the 6th single I’ve released since July but is actually one of the first tracks I wrote this year. It features the amazingly talented Trenton (Ryan Courtney) from Nashville, Tennessee. He’s easily one of my favourite singers to collaborate with. Do yourselves a favour and check out his music.
I particularly love this track because I’m a guitarist at heart, but I tend to be more restrained in how I use the guitar in Black Sands. Old Ghosts has some cool guitar layers and even slide guitar tucked in there.
‘Old Ghosts’ nods to darker, industrial pop, what made you go in this direction with the single?
As I started writing again for Black Sands, I was struggling to cope with the recent death of my sister. She had struggled with drug addiction for many years and finally lost that battle a few years back. Ever since I’ve been trying to move through the complex emotions that come with losing someone so close to you.
Instead of looking at your past as something you need to move on from, I really wanted to draw inspiration from all of my past experiences — the good, the bad, the ugly — to use them as motivation to move forward and acknowledge those things make you who you are. Beautifully imperfect.
Calling back to the darker, industrial and pop-rock like NIN and Depeche Mode I wanted to pay respect to those bands while modernizing the song. In essence, also paying respect to my sister and her struggles and anyone else who’s gone through the same thing.
We see you are a former touring artist, who have you toured with?
Two of my favourite bands we’ve ever toured with are The Receiving End of Sirens and Damiera. Two really talented bands who are brilliant musicians and great songwriters.
What sparked the change for you to become an artist in your own right?
After I stopped playing in rock bands, I had zero ambition to play music again. I hardly touched an instrument for eight years. A few years ago, I lost my sister and found it difficult to do normal day-to-day things in life. After eight years of not having any interest to play music again, writing music again felt necessary.
I didn’t specifically set out to use music to help me channel my emotions, but it really just poured out once I started writing. I would write music and songs every day. Upon reflection, I think I needed music to help release some of the complex emotions I struggled to articulate or understand.
I also think it shows up in the music. The lyrical themes and music are darker and complex focusing on loss and coping with that, but I think it’s something a lot of people can relate to.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
Even though some of the themes can be a little bit darker or feel a little more haunting, there’s a lot of optimism in my songs. I tend to be a very optimistic person and believe that no matter how difficult things are, it can and will always get better. One of my favourite quotes that I think encompasses my eternal optimism is “No winter lasts forever. No spring skips its turn.”
Who are your musical influences?
As I mentioned this track was heavily influenced by Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode, but a lot of newer artists like The Weeknd, Billie Eilish and Post Malone have been really inspiring me lately.
Who are your non-musical influences?
Art, film, fashion are always great places to find creative inspiration. James Turrell in the art space; Heidi Slimane or Rick Owens in fashion and David Fincher in film/television are constants for me.
What’s the best gig that you have ever played?
One of my favourites was Taste of Chaos a handful of years back. We played in Chicago with Bring Me The Horizon, Thursday, Pierce the Veil, Cancer Bats and Four Year Strong. Being able to share a stage with BMTH and Thursday was such a cool experience and two artists that were really influential for me in my younger years. Plus The Vic Theatre in Chicago was such a cool iconic venue.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
With COVID there’s an obvious lack of touring or ability to build a following through live shows. Even though I think that’s difficult for some artists, I think necessity is the mother of invention. Different artists have found really creative ways to reach fans through live streams or by writing and releasing music more rapidly.
I also think it’s great that people have access to so much music today via streaming platforms; however, it can be harder to cut through the sheer volume of artists out there.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
I plan to keep writing and refining what I’ve been working on. I plan to lean more into the pop and lighter sounds this year. It’s a less familiar creative space for me, and I think that brings a cool creative challenge for me. Challenging yourself creatively, pushing to get out of your comfort zone is at the core of Black Sands for me. Couple that with great collaborators from all over the world and 2021 will be an amazing year!
FV Music Blog December 2020
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