Ghost in a Sundress is the ambient folk project of Ian Wang, a Manchester-based teenager who works in a pastel-goth pallet of dark, dreamy textures. His debut tape is out now via Little L Records.
Your new album feels very frosty and desolate, was it recorded during the winter? Can you tell me a bit about the album's creation?
That's definitely a mood I was shooting for, but in truth I was recording on and off throughout all of 2013. Iin fact, perusing through the old files, I started writing half the songs in summer. But, more than anything, making the record was just a slow crawl from one month to the next. I rely pretty heavily on looping in almost all the songs, so each one started from a basic musical motif which gradually blossomed throughout the year; everything was incremental. I was writing and recording in between schoolwork, holidays, etc., so I'd chip away at a song now and again until, bit by bit, it seemed like I had a finished product.
Which artists most influence your work?
This is tricky, because the stuff I was listening to at the time would've been very different to the stuff I listen to now. An obvious one is Department of Eagles: their song "Ghost in Summer Clothes" is where I got my name from (with "summer clothes" changed to "sundress"). I really admired that song's mishmashing of samples with recorded material, and their music has always had a certain eerieness and intricacy to it that I wanted to emulate. A lot of ambient music to contributed to that as well; Secede and Grouper are the two artists that come most obviously to mind. Increasingly, though, I've become an indie pop fan, something which you might here on tracks like I Fall in Love Too Easily. The rich complexity of a band like The Motifs, and the loneliness of Belle & Sebastian's earlier records, have been big influences.
How did you come up with the song titles? Is there a theme or story to the album?
I don't think there is a story or theme so much as there is an atmosphere. Listening to Impressions is more or less listening to me figuring things out, unsure of what I wanted to do musically. I didn't even know how to write a lyric, let alone string a narrative together. But, from the get-go, I had an idea of the mood I wanted to create with my music, which is part of the reasoning behind my name - something nocturnal, wintry, haunting, but with an undercurrent of frailty and compassion. "Heartbroken Ghost Choir Blues" more or less sums it up, though the EP as a whole is a little less maudlin than that. Otherwise, I just picked titles that fit the songs. I felt like it was more important to capture a sense of what the song felt like to me as an individual unit, rather than forcing some kind of thematic link between the titles.
Which song is your personal favorite off "Impressions From a Ghost"?
lt;"It Never Rains Around Here" is definitely the one I'm most proud of. I look back on that track and I find myself unsure of how I even managed to make it work; there are so many interlocking parts that I can barely keep track. It's definitely my most technically impressive track. That being said, "I Fall in Love Too Easily" has to be my overall favourite. Partly for personal reasons - it was the first time I figured out I could make pop music and keep it in line with the ambience and ghostliness I wanted to evoke, and the first time I realised that recording my own voice might not be such a bad idea after all - but mostly because I just think it's a nice pop song.
How did you get hooked up with Little L Records?
I was actually incredibly lucky to get on to Callum's label. Zack Stewart, a friend of mine who makes music under the moniker Bluelily (he'll also be putting out an EP with LLR later this year), showed Callum my music and we got in touch. There were some delays along the way, but Callum's always been incredibly open and dedicated and hard-working, and he always makes sure the artist gets the smoothest release possible. I never expected my first release would get this level of attention and it's entirely thanks to him. I really appreciate the work he's doing.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
The Diskettes. They were a twee pop band from Vancouver who were around in the mid-2000s but, tragically, split up after only two albums. Bandleader David Barclay has gone on to be part of other projects, but The Diskettes had a way of painting these incredibly vivid scenes - beaches, campfires, seaside towns - through what were generally pretty plain-spoken pop songs. They never really did anything electronic the way I do, but there's a lot of creativity and affection in that band's music, contrasted with a sense of precariousness and a distinctly wintry mood, that I feel like would mesh well with my own music, particularly as I lean more towards the poppier side of things myself.
What do you enjoy doing besides making music?
I guess it would be cop-out to say listening to music? Like a good chunk of my generation, my free time is almost entirely wasted on the internet. I try and read as much as possible, both journalism and literature (and, ahem, wikipedia), but most nights end with me downloading pictures of cute animals or obsessing over my last.fm charts or having a marathon of Taylor Swift videos, or something like that. I'm also a dab hand at Minesweeper.