Q&A with Spooky Squad
Spooky Squad, a collective of musicians and creatives, are starting to make noise on the scene. Spooky Squad member and local Atlantan, Spooky, recently released a new EP titled You Make Me Cry. This release manages to encompass a large swath of the emotional spectrum from the perspective of a creative. Emotive lows and jubilant highs are paramount in this project. We caught up with Spooky Squad members Spooky and Gross to talk about the project after the release party for You Make Me Cry at The Bakery.
Plasma: What were your biggest influences for this project?
Spooky: The influence or the concept of it came from this dream where this person that I have a crush on told me they love me, and I was crying so hard. They don't fuck with me that much. We made out once in my bed, it could have been better but, whatever. I don't dream very often, and I don't cry very often either which is really funny, so I wanted to take that emotion and put it into one project. I thought it was going to be one song, but I started thinking of other things that make you cry and that specifically makes me cry and that developed into ideas about my relationship with my parents, the relationship I have with my partner, my relationship with my friends, my relationship with depression and stuff like that. Musically, the first three tracks are definitely very hard, but they are very vivid. It's almost like a play, being that there are a lot of parts to this project. So I take a lot of inspiration from a lot of bands that do that (breaking content into acts or parts). The number ones would be The Cure and Joy Division, those being some of my favorites and they are where I get inspiration for my chords and synths. Rapping wise, a lot of my inspiration comes from the Sad Boy sound, but I wanted to make it harder. So I took some of those feelings, and I graphed it to harder flows. I don't like how slow Sad Boy rap is, I want my music to be fast. Some of my flows are influenced by South Florida rappers.
Plasma: Why do you have this infatuation with faster tempos?
Spooky: I work a lot, and I have to keep moving. You can ask Gross. I'm in the studio every day, and if I stop moving, I feel terrible. Personally, I have a lot of trouble with slower songs or being spacey like a lot of other rappers are right now. I feel like I need to be hitting constant flows and bars or transition into a really good hook. There aren't too many melodies on there. It's like really hard shit.
Plasma: Regarding production, did you all sample anything?
Gross: No Samples.
Spooky: The closest thing I got to a sample is the guitar riff on the last song. That's not even a sample. It's a pack. I found this dude, and he had all these guitar riffs that were perfectly situated for rap music, and they were free. I think guitar is pretty cool and I wanted to see what they (the sound pack) sounded like. I made a beat with it, and it turned out to be a throwaway. It was supposed to go somewhere else. When I sent it to the rest of the squad, they were like you need to put words to that right now. So the original ending track was different.
Gross: It was a lot more aggressive.
Spooky: This one is a lot slower paced, and you can really hear what I'm saying. That's sort of the duality of it. The first few are really fast and really hard, and the last one is very soft.
Gross: I can say that our project coming out in October will sound more like the first 3 songs on the project.
Spooky: The first 3 songs on You Make Me Cry are very much Spooky Squad songs. The last one is my own personal, just Spooky, thing.
Plasma: So, Gross after you heard the finished project how did you feel about it?
Gross: I liked it a lot. I heard the first version after Spooky emailed it to me. I listened to it, and I thought the beat was incredible. It was, and I hate guitar in rap. Then we sat together, and we reworked some of the parts that we thought weren't aesthetically pleasing to the rest of the song. After that, it is now one of my favorite songs. It's nothing that I'd make or even be on.
Spooky: I sent him the first song and it had a bunch of fuck shit on it. Like, "I got a big ol' strap," and me singing on it. He was like you need to turn that shit off and you need to get dumb emotional. He actually helped me write a lot of it. He was right there behind me with the fucking pen and paper or the iPhone. He was like, "you need to say this. this is going to be way more emotional." I was like, "ok," and I switched some of the lyrics up a bit to make it more personal. For a solo song, it's got some of the most collaboration on it.
Plasma: Is that how your workflow usually is? Very collaborative?
Gross: Absolutely, I don't usually write a verse without sending it to Spooky or Poltergeist. I'll send it to them, and they will proof it.
Spooky: We'll be like nah this is dumb corny, or this is fire.
Gross: People who are confident in their music will write shit in twenty minutes, and it does need to be reworked.
Spooky: At the end of the day, we all have our own verses, but it feels like all of us dip into each other thematically. We’re all creatively involved in every single part.
Plasma: What's one takeaway that you want the listeners to have from your project?
Spooky: Honestly, there's a lot to it. The third song of the project is called "Me," and it's about me, checking up on your friends, you need to call them and make sure they are ok. The album as a whole isn't about depression. There are a few tidbits here and there.
Gross: Also, I know that this seems so stereotypical, but channel your strengths and channel your confidence.
Spooky: I actually started making the project the day Anthony Bourdain died. I grew up watching Parts Unknown and No Reservations. To see someone who seemed to have this amazing life kill themselves makes me think. I don't care if someone is banking big time or they have a nice car or a good job, you don't know who's sad. You should call your friends to check on them even if it's just hey, what's up or I miss you.
Plasma: What's next for Spooky Squad?
Spooky: October, the Spooky Squad album drops. Mid-October! That's on another level. I think we have about 10 songs right now. That one is very cohesive. A lot of my production shines through, and a lot of Poltergeist's production shines through. A lot of different themes. A lot of inspirations from post-punk to modern southern rap.
Gross: We have a lot of Memphis sounds, and a lot of Georgia sounds.
Spooky: I used to describe it as if Ian Curtis was sipping on lean all the time. If Ian Curtis and Juicy Jay teamed up, that's what the tape is going to sound like. We'll have singles coming from that in August or September. We have a track about Aleister Crowley. That's some hard shit.
Gross: It's ok to have emotion, but the Spooky Tape is less expression and more aggression.
Spooky: Next up is Gross's solo project.
Gross: The Gross Tape
Spooky: We're going to be pulling in some features from Atlanta and from South Florida. Some underground shit and some people you don't even hear about, but it's...
Gross: It's going to be lit.
Spooky: I'm executive producing that one, and I might be on a little bit. We have one song on there that we played tonight.
Gross: It's called Wash Your Dick!
Spooky: and fuck Morrissey!
You can check out Spooky's latest EP You Make Me Cry on Soundcloud and follow them on social media to check out their future releases.