FEATURED ARTIST – spookybands

Have LA, Will Travel – An interview with Spookybands – By Justice Petersen

Spookybands is a folk musician from Los Angeles who is signed on Cleopatra Records. Combining inspiration from the Sunset Strip and older folk artists, Spooky makes music that brings people together, whether over love, heartbreak, or addiction. Coming from a family of musicians, Spooky was inspired by his family’s ability to pick up instruments and play together at any moment. His parents are recording artists, and after making music his whole life, Spooky was soon inspired to start recording his music.

“I find myself looking up to an attitude of artists rather than a specific artist. I look up to a certain mindset shared by artists,” says Spooky. “Throughout the years, I’ve done every genre you can think of. I just do whatever I feel I would enjoy doing at the time.”

Earlier in his career, Spooky wrote more pop/hip-hop songs. Now, Spooky identifies purely as a folk musician. Spooky was hesitant to release his music at first. But, after receiving praise for his initial releases, he became confident in making the music he was passionate about.

“I started wanting to make music that people could relate to in a different way. Rather than just bring them together to have a good time, I wanted to bring people together and make them feel like a part of something. Like they’re not alone.”

On February 16, Spookybands released a music video for the extended version of his song “Up Straight,” which he filmed at LA’s iconic Viper Room. That same day, he shot the video for “Drinking Problem.”

“I wanted to film it [“Up Straight”] at a bar, and I really like the Viper Room because it’s one of those world-famous venues. As an artist moving to LA…if you could perform at all those venues along the Sunset Strip, The Roxy, The Viper Room, The Whiskey A Go-Go…you had a good chance in this music stuff.”

Spooky compares his videos to found footage or old VHS tapes. Fitting his old school and authentic vibe, they look like an old concert you would watch from the 1970s.

“For so many years, I was nervous about doing acoustic, and I was nervous to do visuals like that because I thought it was too easy and too inexpensive. I wasted a lot of time having people mix my songs, sell me beats, [and] shoot these elaborate HD music videos to no avail because it wasn’t really personal.” Spooky compares “Drinking Problem” to a “bar song” or a “hymn.”

“It’s about doing your thing and working as hard as you can and just not feeling like you’re enough. You could accomplish whatever you want with your day, but at the end of the day, you’re just sitting there feeling sorry for yourself.” Spookybands often sings about mental health and substance abuse. Addiction, something that Spooky says has plagued his friends and family for a long time, was one of the first things that he could see affect an entire family. Cocaine haunts the LA music scene, which Spooky wants to address in his music, despite music industry veterans suggesting otherwise.

“I think it’s more humanizing to talk about that stuff and give it a name…to be able to lay out what’s going on in your life, I think it’s more relatable, and people have a hard time admitting that,” he says. By singing about such vulnerable experiences, Spooky has had many people confide in him about their own struggles.

“If it’s a miserable song like ‘Up Straight’ and relatable, that’s a bad sign for you. But at least you don’t feel alone, and at least you don’t feel like you’re isolating yourself and abusing substances. You’re alone doing that.”

Spooky says that if he writes one song that helps people, he wants the next one he writes to help even more people. “It’s like if you were to open a hospital or a clinic in one town, and it helps many people. But then, the town over, some people still need help. I’m going to open another clinic. I’m going to make more songs and help more people. It’s going to be a harder job, and you’re going to feel more responsible, and you’re going to hear more heartbreaking stuff from people that you hope nobody would have to go through. But it’s a job, and it’s helpful.”

Regarding goals for the future, Spooky says he wants to make his music-making process “more organic and old-fashioned.” He wants to continue working with musicians who have been making music behind the scenes their whole lives. “Real music heads,” as Spooky calls them. He wants to form a small band and travel across the country performing.

Spooky understands what most artists want when they sign to a label – fame, features, collaborations – and he doesn’t want any of it. “I wanted to tap into that idea where I want my music to be for the people, and I want my music to be like Bob Dylan playing his songs in a bunch of little bars instead of trying to get a big show or a big headliner or a big opener. Playing wherever I can, working wherever I can, sleeping wherever I can. Make the music more organic and make the music more nomadic, more well-rounded, and more traveled. I’m trying to rewind the clock and do this shit a different way. I have to say that’s my biggest goal, and I think it’s pretty attainable.”

Ultimately, Spooky wants people to know that he appreciates the ones who listen to his music, and he hopes it stays with them for a long time. “I hope you share it more intimately than you would other music you listen to,” he says.

Spooky knows that his music isn’t typically what you would play for friends at a party or in the car. And he knows that some fans out there think he deserves more recognition. This, Spooky says, is all intentional.

“I think in the long run it’s worth it, and to the people that are listening to it and think it should be out there more, I beg you to ask yourself why. Why does it need to be bigger? Why do I need to be more successful? I’m grateful for you, and I’m grateful for how you relate to my music, and I’m grateful for anything that my music does for your life. So I just want those people to listen to me and not worry as much. This is all per plan, and it will unfold how it has to.”

Spooky is a musician in the truest sense. Like the icons from back in the day, Spooky wants to perform for the people, and he sees music as something to be shared rather than sold. He isn’t famous or trending – but he wants it that way. Still, you should keep an eye on him. While he likes to hang out at the Viper Room, maybe you’ll spot him at a bar near you one day.

“Drinking Problem” is out now. You can watch the music video here:

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