Ghoulish Interview: “I have started making stuff that is truly me”

Ahead of his recently announced residency at YES, we caught up with Ghoulish to chat about the residency, his multifaceted DJ style, those who have shaped his journey, and the highlights of a remarkable past year!

Thomas Hirst

Last updated: 10th Jan 2024

Fresh off the heels of his debut EP, "Weekends Good Will," Salford's very own rising star, Ghoulish, is quickly becoming one of the most talked about names on the scene.

So much so, that for four consecutive months, the first of which will be on the 27th of January (and featuring a very special guest B2B), Ghoulish will be transforming Manchesters, YES, into his musical playground, as he embarks on his first-ever residency, curated entirely by him and set in the venue's iconic Pink Room.

Currently signed to Skream’s label, IFEEL, and a favourite of fellow DJs and trendsetters alike, the soundscapes he crafts have also recently caught the attention of Mixmag, earning his a spot as one of their Artists To Watch in 2024 list; at this point, it is undeniable that Ghoulish's trajectory is pointed firmly upward.

So, with all this happening, we decided to catch up with Ghoulish, to discuss the upcoming residency at YES, exploring the intricacies of his multifaceted DJ style, the influences that have shaped his journey, and the highlights of a remarkable past year. Scroll down and check out what he had to say below!

 

 

Hi Ghoulish, how are you? It must feel good to get news of this residency at YES out there finally.

"Hey, I am doing good, I really hope you are too! I am buzzing to be able to share the news with everyone but I am also super nervous since it is my first time doing something like this."

 

Getting a hometown monthly residency, especially in a venue like YES, must be a top feeling, especially when you get to specially curate the lineup of some of your favourite DJs, producers, and selectors from across the country, how does it feel to bring that all to your home town?

"It really is an amazing opportunity, especially being at YES, I have been going there since I was like 18 in University, always used to have conventionally early finishes (I got bored of the lecture and walked out) and always ended up in YES having a slice and a pint.

I also am hoping it brings a load of new ears onto sounds that people may not be too familiar with which is sort of my whole ethos with music; showing new sounds to an audience that may never have heard of XY or Z!"

 

What's it been like curating these lineups, and what do you think the reaction is going be like when they get released closer to the time of the night?

"I'll be honest, it's been stressful.

"I have tried to get artists that may not necessarily play smaller venues as much and I think when I announce the lineups people are going to be really excited to be close and in an intimate setting with them.

"Overall it has been a huge learning curve but a really fun one at that."

 

Image: Ghoulish on Facebook

It’s been a hell of a year or so for you, and this residency just feels like the perfect way for you to capture and showcase yourself and your rise to fans. Looking back on that, what has the experience of that last year or so been like for you?

"The last year has been immensely surreal, being able to play places like Fabric, The Warehouse Project and travel to Europe to showcase the stuff I absolutely adore is mental honestly.

"I am so grateful towards all the promoters who have taken a chance with me, especially as a lot of them have said how surprised they are when I play because I rock up with not much of an idea on what I am going to play and really just go with the crowd, which, when I first started DJing, I would have never imagined doing that at these legendary gaffs.

"So the experience I have had is just crazy and when I take a minute to look back, I think an 18-year-old me would have absolutely shit himself at the idea of any of this.

"Truely am so lucky to be able to do what I do, shout out to the promoters, ravers, listeners, agents, labels etc, wouldn't do any of this without their support!"

 

Now, it's clear that Skream has been a big part of your journey, how has it been going from him bigging you up on Twitter to you now being mates and colleagues working together - how has that been developing that relationship, because he’s properly taken you under his wing since hasn't he?

"Yeah, this is a funny one because before coming onto the scene my whole thing was dubstep, mainly the American stuff at first when I was like 16-18, and then going back and discovering it all.

"But you can't chat dubstep and not have Oli pop up, so when he was spinning my stuff and DMing me it was a proper WTFFFFF moment since I have such a love for his music.

"Since then we have just become mates and regularly chat and I am just incredibly thankful for how much support and advice he has given me, always sharing tunes or just random bits and bob.

"Like, I remember the first time he belled me, I was on the way to the climbing gym and he was like "Mate, mate, mate, you gotta send me them stems you were working on cause I have this idea and it's pissing me off I can't go and finish it" and that happens a fair bit haha, absolute gent."

 

It must be affirming having such names wanting to work with you and pick your brain on tracks, no?

"Absolutely, I still think to myself how it's all happened because a lot of the people who really love my stuff aren't really who you would associate with the kind of style I push, but to me, that's even cooler because it means my stuff (and I don't want to sound up my own arse here) has potentially transcended said genre norms, maybe?"

 

You just released your debut EP, Weekends Good Will, at the back of the year. What has the reaction been like, and how was it putting together an EP for the first time, instead of just singles/dubplates?

"The response has been awesome, I am surprised the track that is doing the best is 'Comedown Chorus' as I felt that was the one that may have fallen on deaf ears as it's the most different from what my output was at the time.

"The writing, mixing and mastering process was an incredibly welcome change of pace and I think it has really helped me hone in on the way I want to write music, which is spending more time on projects to flesh them out rather than just throwing things out, as I feel a lot of music is becoming very 'fast food' like with the sheer volume that is getting released.

"I felt like I was falling into the trap of feeling I needed to give out free download singles and bootlegs etc. to keep up with what the audience/algorithm wanted which was making me not enjoy producing but working on the EP has really marked a turning point in how I approach the overall creative process."

 

You've mentioned there about, even on your first EP, putting out something different even though it may have fallen on deaf ears, I think such multifaceted production is one of your greatest attributes - from starting with American Dubstep to now playing and producing everything from UK Garage, Speed Garage, and House, and getting opportunities from a wide variety of different bigger labels because of such flexible production skills - it feels like you’ve just got this intrinsic understanding of what makes a good track. Does this come naturally, or do you feel this is something you’ve developed yourself?

"Firstly, thank you for that compliment, I think it is just a case of learning how to produce music to a certain level.

"When I was making American Dubstep I was hyper-fixated on sound design and mixing, I really threw away the idea of 'good music' and I think the last maybe 3 years I have been me really nailing arrangement and songwriting, you can never say you've fully nailed it cause you always learn something new and incorporate something new into your workflow that just flicks a switch and changes everything.

"Overall I felt producing/writing/mixing was something I really had to work on to find my sort of sound and I think only now I am confident I have started making stuff that is truly me."

 

Image: Ghoulish at WHP 

We’ve seen you do everything from a huge debut at WHP to more intimate affairs like your set at Fabric recently; This residency, being in YES Pink Room, will be more of the latter, but how do you approach such different sets, do you do things differently when the room is bigger/smaller and how so?

"I approach sets with a different mindset depending on where it is, for example, NYE at WHP I knew I had to play a lot more 'known' records as the crowd for the most part are there to have a really fun night and not scout new music.

"Whereas, Fabric, I was drawing for real deep cuts and wanted to show off how deep my record collection is."

 

With such varied approaches in your production, how will this translate to the sets at YES then? Are you going to take a different approach to each set of the residency or will it be more something that is based on the rest of the lineups?

"My sets are always a mixed bag and like I said before, I just rock up with a load of stuff I love and want to show the crowd.

"My whole thing with DJing is showcasing stuff the crowd should hear rather than what they want to hear and I believe with the residency there will be an idea beforehand, but I know as soon as I start reading the crowd it will all change."

 

The first show at YES comes at the end of the month, with this one having a super special guest, what can those lucky few in attendance expect?

"Massive tunes, massive vibes, massive amounts of Asahi and probably a big shock when they see who I have managed to come down for a party."

 

We know you won’t be giving us any names, but are there any clues as to the vibe of each night of the residency, will they be different or similar, or are you going to be properly keeping everything under wraps?

"I think I can give some clues, so here is one for the first line-up, there is a dead giveaway on the poster!

 

  



 

Tickets to Ghoulish's Residency at YES go live on Friday, but you can sign up now on Skiddle, right on this page, for reminders of when to secure your tickets. Click on the titles for more information and FAQs on each night:

 

Ghoulish B2B ?????? (all night long) + special guests at YES - Saturday 27th January 2024

Buy tickets:

 

Ghoulish + special guests at YES - Friday 23rd February 2024

Buy tickets:

 

Ghoulish + special guests at YES - Friday 22nd March 2024

Buy tickets:

 

Ghoulish + special guests at YES - Friday 26th April 2024

Buy tickets:

 

 



 

Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.

 

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