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Handsome Ghost Conveys Moody Hopefulness with New Single, “Like You Lost Your Mind”

Handsome Ghost’s band name is a humorous reference to their humble beginnings. “The band name started as a joke and we just ended up running with it,” laughs singer/songwriter Tim Noyes. “When we were first getting going, many years ago, we had a ton of effects on my vocals and when hearing the music for the first time, someone said something along the lines of ‘You sound like a ghost.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, a handsome ghost.’ The vocal treatment has changed a lot since back then, but we kept the name.” There’s a symbiotic relationship between their everyday world and their art. It’s a very delicate dance. “For me, life informs my music and my music informs my life,” explains multi-instrumentalist/producer Eddie Byun. “There’s always a back and forth, which is maybe true about everything… I’ve always strove for a balance of sorts in music; in the writing, production, or mixing stages, there are interactions that need to be balanced. Whether it’s among parts of the frequency spectrum for mixing or instruments/vocals in the production, when things are out of balance, it’s easy for a song to not get the point across and feel cluttered or unfocused. It’s something that I’m continually working on in life. To let all the pieces of my life exist and happen without letting one define me completely, if that makes sense.” Either one or the other must command the stage for real progress to happen. “I do think there are times in life when you have to let parts of your life slip to focus on getting something else right. If I didn’t let music take over from time to time, I would never get any better. And there have been months-long stretches where I didn’t think about music at all, and that’s fine too…If I didn’t allow that time to happen, I would not be married to my wife. Too much balance makes for a safe life, and that’s not something I want right now. And the same goes for songs. Sometimes you gotta let something rip the attention away to really say something.” 

Chaos is occasionally necessary. “There are times where I think we got this right on our record,” muses Eddie. “There are certain parts in ‘Figure 8’ where people felt the electric guitar was too piercing. But that’s the point. It’s an uncomfortable song lyrically, so letting the instrumentation and mix be neutral would be missing the point. There are also times where I wish I could have done a little better in letting things take the spotlight. There are a bunch of parts of ‘Heaven Isn’t Long For You’ that I mixed a little too politely that ended up being almost inaudible in the final.” You just have to ride the roller coaster and trust that there will be just as many peaks as there are valleys. “This isn’t particularly profound, but life is full of ups and downs,” says Tim. “One minute you’re on the top of the world, then you’re right back on the bottom climbing your way out. And so on. That’s what makes us human. I think the music, at least on the songwriting side, embraces the tough times and tries to find the silver linings – the good stuff that exists even during the difficult days. I’ve always used songwriting as a way to make sense of everything that’s going on in my life, so there’s a lot of self reflection in there.” The duo has differing views of their craft when it comes to dealing with emotions. “Lots of times, I work on music as a form of escapism,” admits Eddie. “That seems the opposite of processing difficult moments, I guess, but sometimes that break from my own reality is what I need to address things.” Tim counters that “writing songs has been a therapeutic exercise for me for a long time now. When things are going well and I’m happy – I’m usually out there enjoying the world, living it up. But when I’m struggling – that’s when I’m most likely to sit down with the guitar and write. I think it’s when my head is most clear too, so it can be very helpful to try and work through things. Even if the song doesn’t end up going anywhere, very rarely does it feel like a waste of time.”

Their latest single, “Like You Lost Your Mind,” deftly straddles the ambiguity of internal conflict and a murky future. “This is a song, to me, that’s either hopeful with dark undertones, or moody with a little bit of hopefulness,” reveals Eddie. “My favorite songs are ones that can be interpreted in different ways depending on where you’re at in life. I hope ‘Like You Lost Your Mind’ has some of that to it. Hopefully!” Tim points out that we have to appreciate what’s in front of us. “I wrote this one during the height of the pandemic, when the world felt very uncertain. I took a spur of the moment road trip up to my family’s cabin in Maine and had an amazing night up there playing music…just having an altogether great time with good company. That night inspired the song. It’s about trying to enjoy the moment you’re in now because nothing beyond it is promised.” They each find ways to savor the transient nature of life. “It’s nice to have a bandmate in Tim who helps keep me grounded,” Eddie smiles. “We’ve been at it together for a very long time, at least in the life of bands, and he’s still my guy. Family, Tim, cats. Those keep me level, when I really need it.” Tim ponders: “I try to lean into it, for the most part. It’s been part of the deal up to this point, so I try to make the best of it. Sometimes I wonder what things would be like if things were more stable, more permanent…but for the most part, I’m grateful that I get to do something very few people get to do. Maybe that will change someday, but for now I’m into it.” 

Both admit that pouring your heart into music can be a double edged sword. “Music is a weird thing… Sometimes it’s a nice escape and pure joy, but sometimes it forces you to really linger on the painful parts of life,” Eddie acknowledges. “It makes the bad worse, but at least you have something to show for it.” Tim chimes in, “For me, writing music and working on production is my absolute favorite thing in the world to do. It has been for a long time, and maybe even more so now – which is crazy. I just love the feeling of making something and thinking, ‘that didn’t exist before, now it does.’ It’s like building a piece of furniture to me.” Still, they remain optimistic about what life holds for them, at least in terms of love. “Kinda as a joke, but sometimes not, I have a rule where I can only have a certain number of friends,” teases Eddie. “If I meet a new friend, I gotta kick somebody out. Does that mean I’m not really open to giving and receiving love? I don’t know. Hah.” Tim waxes poetic: “That’s one of the best parts of life, right? All this music talk, but at the end of the day giving/receiving love tops it all. I’ve learned over the years, usually the hard way, that I need to be in a good place with myself to truly give love to others. And to accept it from others as well. So I try to make sure that I’m feeling healthy and taking care of myself. If I’m doing that, then I think I have a lot of love to offer. If I don’t, then I can be tough.”

Their upcoming album is a sonic scrapbook of the joys of art and collaboration. “It’s a series of short vignettes of sorts of songs inspired by experiences we’ve had because of a life in music,” Eddie says. “In some ways, it’s a very personal record, but at the same time, all of the themes are really universal. I think there’s a lot of mystique built around ‘being a musician’ but really the life struggles and lessons are universal, and when the curtain is pulled back, sometimes it’s a bit more real and sad than expected.” Tim adds, “This one was fun to make – Eddie and I were in a really good place when we were making it. We usually are in a good place, don’t get me wrong, but when you’ve been working with someone for as long as we have been working together…there are bound to be ups and downs. But this one was just a good time from basically start to finish. We were locked in on our vision and I think we just made it a priority to have a good time playing the songs together. At the end of the day, it’s music, it’s fun!”

Tim is looking forward to a more seasoned era. “I think ‘navigating adulthood’ has creeped its way into a lot of our music over the years. I’ve always struggled with the kind of extended youth that tends to come with a life in music, and honestly – it’s taken me a long time to grow up. There’s always been a ton to write about, which is great, I guess? But at a certain point, you have to figure it out and be an adult. It took me a while to get there, but I think I finally have. And the record documents a lot of those experiences that I had in getting there.” Eddie wants the album to speak to fans on an individual level. “I just hope people take the songs and hear them in their own contexts, and that they find something in the songs that they relate to. I think that’s the true beauty of music.” Tim similarly views their work as a collaborative east for interpretation. “There’s plenty to learn about us if that’s what the listener wants to do. There are lots of intimate moments throughout the record, a lot of lyrics pulled directly from personal experience. But anyone who listens to the album is welcome to make it their own, to relate the songs to their own lives. That’s the best part of releasing songs, in a way. We’ll work long and hard on a record, but once we put it out there – it’s not ours anymore. And above all else, I just hope the songs make you feel something. That’s what got me hooked on music when I was kid, before I could actually play it, and hopefully we can bring out some emotion with this record.” Handsome Ghost’s self-titled album drops August 25th via Nettwerk.

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Handsome Ghost Conveys Moody Hopefulness with New Single, “Like You Lost Your Mind.” Photo Credit: Seb Keefe.

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