Interview | July 21, 2016
Music As Possession: An Interview With Caught A Ghost

Caught A Ghost is the project of multi-talented producer/singer/songwriter/DJ Jesse Nolan. Since the release of 2014’s Human Nature, Nolan has been touring and working on new music, the first of which is a new single, “If Only You Knew,” off of his next full-length LP coming in the fall. We got to chat with Jesse for a moment about his chosen moniker and musical history.

“Caught a Ghost” is an old addage in the South to mean someone is acting off, filled with something other-worldly, or behaving in a different way. How does this play into your creation of your project’s name?


Music is like possession to me. Both on stage and in the studio I feel that something takes over that feels supernatural. It’s not always there, but when it happens it’s special.


Your last album Human Nature opens with the track “No Sugar in My Coffee.” It’s incredibly soulful, old-Americana even. But the song “uuu” is very doo-wop/top of the stax era in nature….where do you draw your inspiration for this synthy-work song vibe?


You know a lot of my production decisions are just intuitive. I’m always revising tracks when creating an album because usually I’m drawing from so may influences that I have to push the songs closer together to make them feel like a collection. Sometimes I’m specifically referencing a song a like, other times it’s completely out of thin air. The common thread is always about trying to place familiar sounds in a different context.



How did you get into music? Into performance?


Oddly enough, I loved listening to my parents Tom Waits records as a child. There are pictures of me with a broomstick around my neck as a child mimicking Paul Simon. I did Michael Jackson’s “BAD” for my kindergarten talent show. I started playing guitar because of Nirvana at age 10. Then I discovered Jimi Hendrix. When I learned that Hendrix used to bootleg Buddy Guy shows that opened up the whole word of Delta and Chicago blues, followed my jazz and soul from labels like Blue Note, Motown, Stax, King records, Chess, Sun Records, Atlantic, Columbia etc. I later became obsessed with (in my opinion) the greatest pop singer/songwriters: Dylan, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie. Those artists represent the greatest achievements by artists who perform their own work.

As for performing, I started as a guitar player. I liked singing but I was shy. It wasn’t until singing in a Gospel choir when I went to college that I came out of my shell as a singer.


Are you originally from the LA area?


I grew up in Santa Monica and Venice, which goes a way to explaining my sunny disposition.


What can you tell us about your upcoming work, specifically the new single “If You Only Knew?” How does it differ from your previous production/sound/feel?


The new music retains the same spirit I think, although I think my mixes have gotten better. I’m also playing with more contemporary textures. With, if you only knew, I was aiming for a haunting yet dynamic ballad about a struggling relationship. I used sampled vocal pads and trap percussion, as a means of giving the song a propulsive melancholy. The drop in the song reflects the terrible beauty of being embattled with someone that you love, and I hope captures that sensation of obsession that we all have experienced.


Every artist has struggles while on the road, whether its equipment breaking down, the hard hours, or a litany of other complications…what’s been your biggest struggle and how do you deal with it?


Being on the road requires a lot of patience and the ability to embrace adventure. For example, we once stayed in the ‘worst hotel in all of christendom’ in Houston. Between the bulletproof glass at reception, and the signs forbidding the use of needles on the property, to the hilariously low ceilings (like the 7 1/2 floor in Being John Malkovich) the place was absolutely terrifying. Kubrikian. If you think of your life as a film, it gives you the proper distance to appreciate the absurdity of moments that would otherwise be deeply unsettling.



Where have you been on tour thus far? What has been your favorite place? Where are you most excited about performing next?


We have toured all over the country. Our most recent run of dates was the West Coast and Southwest, to road test the new material before we commit to the performances on the next album. The shows have all been great, but we just had a surprisingly awesome show in Phoenix. I was amazed that people made their way through the 115 degree heat to come party with us, but they were an amazing crowd.


Anything else you feel like sharing or telling ATG, feel free to lay it on us!


Vote this November. Ha.


Upcoming Tour Dates w/ Smoke Season:

7.22 Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar

7.24 Santa Barbara, CA @ Velvet Jones

8/4 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo