Menu

Search anything and hit enter

<1 year ago>

Annabelle Green

WORDS

Who The Hell Is Ghoulish?

NOW READING •

Who The Hell Is Ghoulish?

Starting off experimenting with American dubstep in his bedroom in Manchester, Adam Harper, aka Ghoulish, made the transition to UKG, amongst other genres, during a period of experimentation during lockdown. 

Ghoulish has kept up a busy day job designing video games with a recent RinseFM debut and a full roster of shows in cities including Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, to name a few. He’s going from strength to strength, having signed by ec2a last year, home to some of the biggest artists in the scene. This includes none other than Skream, who happens to be a massive Ghoulish fan. He is amongst one of a plethora of UKG big hitters backing Adam’s latest release with UKG label Steppers Club; ‘The Underground Way’. Due to be premiered on April 7, it already boasts support from Girls Don’t Sync, Danny Rankin and DJ Q. Deviating from his usual, self-described modern and clean sound, the tune pays tribute to noughties bangers and the era of the organ soundtrack.  

Ghoulish sat down with UKF to discuss his rapid growth in the scene, multi-genre approach to producing and digital vs physical releases. Here, we talk about Twitter bans, imposter syndrome and becoming Skream’s adopted son. 

You’ve been around in the garage scene for a short while now, but I understand Ghoulish the artist pre-exists this given your previous work in other genres?

I started Ghoulish in 2017, maybe 2018. It was kind of an acronym for nothing. I thought, my normal name is boring, and Ghoulish is kind of cool? I was doing pretty heavy dubstep, like all the American stuff, but I was doing house and garage at the same time too. That was off the back of listening to artists like Burial. I was pretty aware of the UKG scene, not as much as I am now, but I decided ‘you know what, let’s try and make some garage.’ And that was always in the back of my mind. 

I think just before lockdown, around 2019/2020, I got really sick of the American dubstep scene. It’s all in America, so there’s that disconnect, and also I wasn’t enjoying making the music. So I decided to try making garage with an American dubstep bass, stuff that’s not so expected. I did a full EP worth of stuff like that which I’ve got done, but I never sent it out. It wasn’t really me, so I binned the idea off. I was on SoundCloud so much and I was DJ-ing a lot just at home on a Friday night, experimenting with deep house, garage, two step, speed garage and I realised I should be making this. So I started venturing into that sort of world in about 2020. 

Interplanetary Criminal was coming up, ec2a, people like that. I got added to this group chat with loads of different artists called Dub Committee. There were about 30 different people in there. It was the height of lockdown, so no one could meet each other but it was full of different producers who started making UK Dance music. We were all sharing tracks, and from there every single person in it started taking off. So there was myself, Xander, Old Boy, Papa Nugs. Loads of these great UK artists and we’re all doing really good stuff now. It was great fun and I was basically making music at that time instead of being depressed. 

I started getting recognition for that music and now it feels like second nature. The dubstep stuff feels almost unnatural. The UK focus is super natural. I still do dubstep and I still absolutely adore dubstep, and I have a lot of love for the American stuff. There are still some tracks that come out that are bangers. 

That makes sense; if you’re listening to and enjoying garage, Speed garage, house then why would you not try creating it yourself?

Yeah that’s exactly it. All the American dubstep that I was listening to really stagnated and it seemed like a lot of those involved in the scene felt that too. Between 2014 and 2017/18 the scene was sort of doing what the UK dance scene is doing now. So you had all these artists coming up like Sudden Death, and I was trying to make that music too but it just wasn’t natural for me. I was always listening to the UK stuff, I was never listening to the heavy dubstep, so it was just a natural progression for me. 

Ever since coming into the garage scene, it seems as though you’re refusing to be boxed into one genre. How are you finding pushing boundaries as a multi-genre producer?

It’s really fun. I’m getting some opportunities from bigger labels, because I bring flexible production skills. I’m always saying that whilst I adore garage, I’m not beholden to that. I don’t want to fall into the same trap that happened with the dubstep stuff, where I was feeling boxed in. Now I’m doing some work on house music, I’ve just done some more pop style songs for a couple of labels. It’s just really refreshing. I’ll make a load of stuff in sessions and then swap to something else for a change. I’ve introduced myself to the garage scene and also a lot of house contacts. I’m still in touch with a lot of the dubstep people too, I’m heading to the big FWD>> night which will be great. It’s really nice to have a melting pot of different styles and I can get excited trying to make them all. They might turn out rubbish, but I’ll enjoy myself making them, and that’s the main thing. 

It’s refreshing too that there’s more of a mixing of the genres on lineups. Speaking to other artists, people felt even five years ago if you were playing bassline at a d&b event then you’d get executed, whereas now you go to an event and anyone could be on the lineup. It might be a garage or techno night but every single DJ will be playing some garage to techno to dubstep to jungle. It’s great and just a reflection of what everyone is enjoying. 

It’s also nice because it allows more creative freedom. You can stagnate just doing one thing. Now if a garage artist, or someone who’s known for producing garage releases a jungle tune, no one bats an eyelid. 

We all saw a few months ago when Skream started tweeting about a certain up and coming bass producer, how did you feel when you found out he was talking about you? 

It’s funny actually, because I didn’t find out first, because I was banned from Twitter for years. Nothing controversial I promise!  Basically, I made a meme on Twitter and my mate stole it, so I tweeted him saying ‘I’m going to kill you.’ It was completely lighthearted! That was my second strike, they’d previously banned me for a bit because they thought I was a 13 year old posing as an 18 year old, even though I was really 18 at the time. So long and very weird story short, I got a lifetime ban for that second strike.  

I managed to get my account back around the time Skream was tweeting about me quite a lot. He DM’d me asking for my number. Then I was on the way to the gym and he rings me like ‘mate, I’m in Glasgow. Please can you stem out this track we’ve been working on together? I’ve got the best idea.’ It was surreal, I was like ‘what?’ I’ve been listening to him for years, and now we’re mates. 

It must be pretty affirming having these big names asking for your input and opinions on their tracks?

It’s crazy. I have a big sense of imposter syndrome.

It’s just really cool, Skream will text me in the middle of the night with 400 different ideas for tracks asking what I think. I remember one night, where we had this massive conversation where we were sending tunes back and forth to each other. He was sending me unreleased tracks with him and Coki. It’s surreal. 

I’ve also just signed this tune to a label of a big house name. I can’t say who yet, but I couldn’t believe they even knew who I was. They had played the tune as part of their set, it got an amazing reaction and then they called me asking if they could release it on their label. I was like this is the weirdest thing ever, it doesn’t even feel real. So I was on the phone like ‘yeah yeah sounds good’ trying to play it cool, but it was just so surreal.

And I understand the relationship with Skream hasn’t just ended there, he’s really taken you under his wing?

Skream and I went to the Warehouse project together. He brought me out and said he was going to play all my songs during his set, which I completely didn’t believe, I thought he was joking. But he literally played 12 or 13 of my tracks back to back to back, and it was just going off. I was sat there, a few beers down, watching it all and thinking how crazy it was. 

It’s crazy how sometimes you can make a track which is just a throw away track, and then someone else can pick it up and breathe new life into it. Skream has done that for me a lot with tracks. He messages me saying ‘mate this is really good, you should finish it and get it out.’ We’re going over to Forward together, going to have a few drinks and listen to a ton of dubstep, can’t wait. He put on Tiktok that I was his son!

Could this music see the light of day soon?

Nothing coming out soon that’s set in stone. We are trying to work on my Attention Deficit track remix. It’s a strange one, I asked him if we were getting it out soon, and he said we might. Then without me knowing, he sent promos of it to lots of big DJs. The only reason I found it is because LAU.RA, the Radio 1 DJ, tagged me in a post. I had no idea as I hadn’t sent it to her, but I’ve been getting so many messages about it, so I’m hoping to get it out soon. 

We’ve got some more work on tunes coming up and I’m sure we’ll have tracks out at some point together soon. We get on so well when it comes to production. 

What can you tell me about your new release with Steppers Club? How did this come about?

I remember in 2014 it was all organ house  music, there was that bassline everywhere. There was a massive resurgence 9 or 10 months ago, and it inspired me to make this tune. I tried to make it sound as old skool as possible, which was dead hard for me because I like thinks being clean and modern  sounding.

I think with this one you can just tell I’ve had fun with it. It’s my attempt at an early 2000s, organ house , speed garage banger. Like an old skool Jeremy Sylvester drum beat. It was a spur of the moment thing I made to play in sets, to have an organ sounding track in there. It sounds great on a system too. I remember making it and was happy with it, but I didn’t realise how well received it was going to be.

I’m getting anxious about it, I hope it does alright! It’s my first release of 2023. Steppers have said they’re confident in the track and I’ve had quite a lot of people asking about it. So many big names have downloaded it:  Girls Don’t Sync, Skream, Danny Rankin, DJ Q, Dusky, the list goes on. 

Fingers crossed with the support I’ve been getting, it should do alright!

You’ve smashed it on the physical releases with ec2a, does this release mark the start of a focus on pushing your music from a more digital angle?

I think doing a mix is good. I like the physical format but I understand it’s really expensive for people. I get a lot of messages about dub plates, but they’re just for unreleased tracks, to get people a bit hyped. People get really disappointed when I say I’m not releasing it yet, they’re always asking if they can buy them off me. 

I try to focus on digital, bar the two dub plates I’ve put out. But I do want to work on a big project, probably an EP as I haven’t done one before, where I’ll do a combination. I think what’s nice about the physical stuff is you can do parties with them for example, and I really enjoy that. 

I just did a giveaway competition with a dubplate and someone won it in Turkey, so I need to send them that!

What’s the most obscure place you have fans that you know of?

I’ve had someone message me from Indonesia before. It was 4 in the morning and I’d just come back from a night out so I was hammered. I checked my phone because I thought one of my mates had texted me but it was a message request, so I just went ahead and opened it. It was this dude saying how much he loved my music and he hoped I’d come over to Indonesia one day. At the size I’m at now that’s not going to happen anytime soon, but I would love to go sometime in the future.  I’d definitely go there on holiday!

What plans have you got for the rest of the year?

I’ve got quite a few shows coming up. I’m playing GottWood in Anglesey which is a really cool festival, and then I’m heading to Rampage Open Air in Belgium. I think I’m the first garage artist to do a set there and I’ve been told the stage I’m on is amazing and I’ve got a nice set time. The line up looks brilliant too. I’m terrified but so excited. I’m playing in Plymouth, Cardiff and then also in Leeds with Gentlemen’s Club for their headline show at Mint Warehouse.

Follow Ghoulish: Instagram/Soundcloud/Bandcamp

 

More Like This

WORDS

Q&A

In Conversation With Ternion Sound

In Conversation With Ternion Sound

WORDS

WORDS

We Need To Talk About Main Phase

We Need To Talk About Main Phase

WORDS

WORDS

Who The Hell Is Ghoulish?

Who The Hell Is Ghoulish?

WORDS

WORDS

In conversation with Scott Garcia

In conversation with Scott Garcia

WORDS

WORDS

We Need To Talk About Steppers Club

We Need To Talk About Steppers Club

WORDS

WORDS

Ones To Watch 2022

Ones To Watch 2022

Popular

UKF

Formula - Warrior (Headlost Remix)

Formula - Warrior (Headlost Remix)

UKF

MPH - One Sixty

MPH - One Sixty

WORDS

Q&A

In Conversation With Ternion Sound

In Conversation With Ternion Sound