AOL.GHOST: MERGING IRL & URL WORLDS | Interview
Ally Engelbrecht recently chatted with aol.ghost. The two of them discuss the meaning behind adapting a variety of names to release music under, as well as aol.ghost’s PARK TO SHOP.
We've already met, but for article purposes, why don't you introduce yourself!
I'm a queer nonbinary individual who uses xe/xer pronouns, I've been playing and recording music for about three years. I'm from Mentor, which is just outside of Cleveland.
I read on your bandcamp that you first released music under monosyllable, can you tell us some more about the changing around of names?
I have a thing with titling that goes a little bit farther than most other artists, in that I view the name I record under as being as important to the piece as the album title and the title of the song. monosyllable was pretty much a username, which is why I don't use it very often and it fits (in my opinion) best a generic kind of minimal house that I don't make.
Ca Ira was my first name I released under which came out of me just exiting a really unhealthy relationship and so it's the French conjugation of "it'll be better" as well as a reference to a French revolutionary hymn of the same name, which includes my attempting to have a generally positive outlook on life as well as having a present tense notion of "life is shit right now," and the socialist perspective. The last of which isn't addressed strongly in my music especially because after leaving high school I've faced less backlash due to my leftist ideology, but in that time until probably around the release of fag I had felt a little isolated due to political belief in a mainly white cishet highschool with more kids that agreed with Hitler and the Confederate ideology than folx who were AMAB and queer.
Muscle Boy was a little satirical, and was done to indicate kind of my "I'm a weak lanky kid who hates xer male body", and so that kind of dealt with my inner conflict of sexuality and gender more strongly than my past releases. Taiwan 1990火鳳 is a reference to a Taiwanese children's show from 1990 about a god monster named Bibo. I've got no connection to Taiwan or anything in it other than that I, in my early youth had found a clip on the internet, and thusly decided to name a nostalgic lofi hip-hop release with such.
Artichoke Hearts was my trying to sound like Mort Garson's "Plantasia" and wanting a name that sounds like an early 90s twee band for my plant focused ambient release. Shower Cry was about my crying in the shower a bunch at that time, which I guess is fairly self explanatory. No Connexion is just me acknowledging romantic detachment in the time leading up to that release. "i don't know what it is to hurt you" is roughly the same in causation, but also has to do with a platonic detachment of losing a friend due to distance and their living in a fairly different work/life balance than I have.
внешность and Й★C78★Ж are both done for aesthetic reasons, with the first due to an interest in Russian aesthetics and the existence of a failed post industrial society that manages to be dark and also dance (dancing rocks the rust belt sucks for it). Lethe Shopping Center is a reference to Lethe, a Greek river of mythology that makes one forget many things, in reference to the vapor aesthetic and underlying political belief that capitalism is suspended through referencing past nostalgia and associating such with capitalism rather than youthful exuberance and joy, to both mimic and mock the lack of integrity of nostalgia and of past and present consumerism.
aol.ghost is a conflict for me as it's my main project. Thereby, it serves as both my most polished music many a time, but also my most commercially available and promotable music. It's also inspired by vapor culture and serves as a reflection of the death of a separate internet culture and the merging of the IRL and URL worlds and a kind of isolation seen in having mainly internet friends. But aol.ghost and a lot of my names are just twitter names I think sound cool that I turn into the release of the time to reflect personally the way I'm feeling. I guess that's it. It took a while to get to, and I'm sorry for that, but I found what I wanted to say and it took a sec to say it. I hope that's a good answer.
These are the answers we look for and love. I was sent your album PARK TO SHOP which drew my attention. Can you tell me more about what this album in particular means to you? And why aol.ghost is conflicting?
So that album deals with like, a lot of stuff, and I'm gonna answer that aol.ghost question first. It is my main project, though at times I wish it were not, in that it is my most popular and commercially viable project? I feel that I should be emotional and truthful in my songs for it and at the same time feel I shouldn't alienate folx from listening to the project. IDK it's, like, lowkey the worst? I have to censor my stuff for like the general listening public, so I put my more emotional stuff under other releases and names too TBH.
PARK TO SHOP is about my collegiate experience and, like, feeling lonely and isolated and tired as fuck all the time. It's more about gender stuff though. The name has little to nothing to do with it other than my college stuff because it's a good asian super market that I frequented and still go to in my first semester of college because it's mad cheap and the ramen is pretty good. IDK, I'd been experiencing a lot of gender dysphoria and had just gotten over being sad and angry at myself for being gay, but it felt like some people around me weren't there yet. It felt like my suicidal tendencies were done, but I hated being at home literally ever.
PARK TO SHOP was on the heel of what felt like a total rejection of the familial concept. In that I guess I mean that it took me a while to internalize the concept that I shouldn’t feel guilty for not feeling accepted by my family. And that even though some acquaintances have said on occasion that they harbor no love for me, that I shouldn’t feel bad because I shouldn’t value the opinions of those who don’t value my own. I guess the album comes also, on a lesser extent, that most of my friends totally ignore my pronouns and that that made me feel like shit. I know it sounds bad, but the album was kind of more about healing than without, 2-1 which was more about openly addressing being hurt.
Are we to expect any new albums from aol.ghost?
Uh, so recently because of school I haven't had time to record vocals (which are normally the most time intensive part of recording), so I've only recorded like 3 songs for my next album. I've been making a lot of hip-hop and trap beats because I can do that on my computer and the sound design isn't as intense, and I can do it anywhere. It's a lot less satisfying, but I feel the need to create daily and I can't fit recording into my schedule, and I don't like having too many active projects at one time. I hope my music has obviously better production for the next LP, because I just bought a compressor and I may buy a new synth, as lately I've been feeling limited with two polysynths and a monosynth, to only making chords, bass, and a lead-apart from the drum parts. (IDK i can list my hardware if you want). I think it's gonna sound more polished and maybe brighter, but I can't guarantee much.
Check out more from aol.ghost here.
Feel free to follow Ally Engelbrecht on Twitter: @v3ggi3babe.