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Ghost to Falco's "White (K)night"

On forgetting lyrics, pop songs and not-pop songs




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Ghost to Falco is Eric Crespo, a Portland resident who was born in Los Angeles but raised in Burlington, N.C., since he was 8 years old. Crespo recently sublet his Portland apartment and made his way back home, playing a spate of shows in support of his third album, Like This Forever, on his way back across America. In Burlington, Crespo sounds tired or complacent or both, perhaps just resting before a three-show weekend in his home state. For instance, when asked about "White K(night)," a song from Like This Forever, Crespo thinks long and hard before admitting he barely remembers the lyrics. He walks into another room, pulls up the lyrics sheet and manages just this: "It's about the traps people make for themselves and being able to sort of rise above it, I think, to a sort of freedom."

That much, at least, is obvious: "White (K)night" is arranged with a predisposition for jazz and classical music, so different instruments handle the same parts. The effect creates a series of traps that are easily broken. Just when the song seems to have found its course, it snaps into something else entirely through piano, horns or a snapping, suspenseful bassline.

INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: One of the things that appeals to me here is the way the song is arranged, and none of the elements—like horns, or the different guitar effects—ever crowd into the same space together. Is that how you prefer to arrange?

ERIC CRESPO: I'm looking for things that are exciting to me, and arranging songs is exciting to me. A few years ago, I kind of abandoned the song structure that most people use. A while ago, I opened myself up to new stuff, and that song came around when we were touring together as a band a lot. Our drummer was playing trombone on that song live, so we added a bunch of horn stuff. I kind of wrote it from somewhat of a composer's standpoint rather than a songwriter's standpoint, in the way there were a lot of different elements doing things that are separate from one another. One instrument might take the lead at a certain time, and the others are back in the distance. That's not exactly a pop song to me.

Growing up with pop music, you normally know "A" follows "B" follows "C" on several different levels. Did you have to learn it didn't have to be that way as you got older, and did it take experimenting to get it right?

Around 19 or 20, it started changing a lot for me. I grew up in Chapel Hill, so I was into all those bands. I was into pop-structured bands that were doing different stuff inside of that. I was always into that more than straight-ahead bands. As I got older, I found more music. I've been writing songs since I was 14, but around 19 or 20 I started to drop the pop conventions in what I was doing.

The bass and the guitar and the mood overall match the songs lyrics, which are enigmatic and a bit dark. What was happening when you penned them?

It's about the traps people make for themselves and being able to sort of rise above it, I think, to a sort of freedom.

Ghost to Falco plays Bull City Headquarters Friday, Dec. 14, with The Tourist, Monologue Bombs and Horseback at 9 p.m. Ghost to Falco joins Horseback again Saturday, Dec. 22, at Nightlight.

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