Interview with Jan Kerscher

Jan Kerscher is a young and ambitious musician and the founder of Ghost City Recordings, a recording studio in Bavaria. In our little interview he told us about his work and his view of creating music nowadays.

El Gore: There are probably not many young men nowadays who start a production company, can you tell us how you came up with the idea?

Jan Kerscher: To me – as probably for most of the artists I work with – music is the most personal and fragile thing I can imagine. Dealing with emotions in such a way is only possible in a private space that comforts and suits a creative team. Back when I started recording with bands, we were always hiding out in my parents’ basement or attic or somewhere. One of my recent hideouts was – as you might know – ‘The Fiction’ in Luxembourg, where we recorded most of the Dirty Crows album. Thus, the basic idea behind Ghost City Recordings was (and still is) to provide a permanent hideout right in the middle of nothing where any artist can stay for weeks in order to create. So there it is. We just needed that hideout. We had no other option than come up with a plan and build it.

EG: How much subjectivity (from the producer’s side) do you think ends up in an album or single?

JK: That depends on the individual producer, really. In my case – I think, I add a lot of my own personality to the records I make. When I work with artists, most of the time I focus on where the “sound” comes from rather than indulging in the technical side of recording it. Obviously to me, it’s more important for the musical expression than having a bad/wrong guitar part being recorded brilliantly.

But in the end there is always a level of ‘subjectivity’ with every producer. If you look at it from this side of the glass, not giving yourself too deeply into the recording process is also a very personal decision and can be an argument to work with a specific producer if the band or artist has a very distinct vision of their sound.

EG: You’re said to be very happy to try new and unconventional things while recording, can you give us examples and do you think that experiments are more important than ever before in music history?

JK: Weird methods are the best methods. It frees the artist’s mind from thinking too much about what exactly he’s doing and playfully distracts the whole crew from the sometimes intimidating studio situation. Very recently, I did a vocal recording session in the forest. I clearly remember the moment where I proposed the idea to the band. Everyone was smiling instantly – the sheer idea filled everyone with euphoria in just a second. In creative terms – this is the one perfect working condition. And when we finally got to track – between all those trees and birds chirping – it was golden. Everyone was feeling light and not at all overly focused – just letting it happen. The result is a bunch of wonderfully natural vocal takes – also we kept the birds in the background and separately miked up the distant ambient of the woods and everything. It added a really nice ambiance to the whole record!

I think a good set of unconventional methods help you to widen the scope of your artist. It gives them the space to unfold in any direction they want to go. It feels free yet earthed. Also, it keeps studio work thrilling and inspiring. I love it.

EG: In a portrait you say that you have no master plan considering neither recording nor your own life. Have you ever had the feeling that things won’t work out in the end, be it in a recording session or in life?

JK: Definitely so. It can be awfully hard at times – not knowing if you’ll bring your business through the next months. It makes me doubt about myself and confronts all of my projects with essential questions. But I consider that a significant part of being creative and self-determined and I have found my peace with it. Actually, it can be really healthy. It makes you rethink everything you do on a regular basis.

And even sometimes it would not work out at all. But failing means learning at the same time which is no bad thing at all.

Basically, life’s a matter of decisions. The “it won’t work out” feeling is just a reminder to go over your decisions again.

EG: Ghost City Recordings offers workshops this August, can you tell us what this project is all about?

JK: I am always motivated to educate future sound engineers / producers and share my experience and philosophy with them.

The upcoming workshops in August deal with the regrettably popular misconception that one can record in almost every space and a good mixing work would fix the quality of your recording. I want to teach young and ambitious recording engineers to get their technique right in a way that they can get a good signal out of everything, everywhere they happen to do a record.

Also I don’t want kids to send their mixes away to the big foreign names – thinking their music will be sounding like their big idols. That doesn’t make sense. They’re making money out of the kids and abuse their function as role models. It makes me sick seeing all those kids, spending tons of money into something that their alleged idols won’t put the adequate amount of love into. If you want it to sound like yourself – do it yourself. Or go find someone who is really trying to understand you. That’s much better.

Find out more about the Ghost City Recordings workshops:

Pictures taken from the video made by Rocksofa.