Josh Gard, aka Figure, has been releasing his distinct brand of horror-themed electronic music for almost a decade with releases on OWSLA, Disciple and Never Say Die as well as his annual Monsters series on DOOM Music.
Figure’s latest release, the aptly named Heartbeat Of Hell, features four new tracks that are sure to send shivers down your spine, something of a trademark sound for the producer. Combining an eclectic array of samples taken from various horror films with some of the most bloodcurdling, ominous sound design out there, Figure’s new EP is nothing short of menacing (in the best way possible, of course). With such a unique approach to production, we decided it was high time we sat down with Figure for an in-depth chat about his love of all things horror.
Hey Josh, what’s new in the world of Figure?
Hey there! A lot is new, from home life to tour life. Planning this next tour right now, I moved even further out in the country (for those who don’t know, I basically live in the middle of nowhere) And all in all just really stepping up all things Figure…. From shows to music to concepts.
Tell us about your new release…
Well, I always catch a vibe of a release with the first track. Whatever comes to me first, if I really like it that dictates the whole flow of everything else on the release. So, in this case, I made a four track EP that has up in front Figure occultish/scary vibes as always, but nothing so on the nose that you can adapt it from what I believe it to be. Meaning, if I have a song about Big Foot you probably will only catch the same vibe every time when you listen to it. I left these a bit open for interpretation
So what’s the story behind the name Heartbeat Of Hell?
The title track is not only my favourite track on there but one of my favourite tracks I’ve made in years. A lot of stuff has layers out of key, subs sometimes moving out of key with the baseline. All on purpose to kind of put the listener in a rad odd hyper mindset when listening to it. It’s done in a lot of horror movies, and it’s always what catches my ear more than, say, really good synth work. Or even a good song’s crescendo.
It’s released today on Friday 13. This was planned, right?
Of course, it was! We were looking at dates for July, and looking on my iPhone I was like CLEARLY THIS HAS TO HAPPEN. I sent the date and idea to Black Label and they were like ‘oh yeah, that makes sense’.
You’re known for your use of samples from horror films in your tracks with your Monsters series. Can you tell us a bit about the series? Is this different from your other productions as Figure? What inspired this?
It’s different at times. The whole monster thing was an accident waiting to happen. Every aspect of my upbringing all points towards horror and the occult world. My dad runs all the haunted houses in the city and was a DJ. From that to what I watched when I was little, instead of all the nice cartoons… I had all my older cousins horror movies, things I SHOULD NOT have seen at that age. As much as a culture can be, it’s in my blood.
Fast forward to me making music, I always like darker things… Old metal, scoring work, hip-hop. So everything I made has this darker tone, and one day I decided to toss a sample in a track because it reminded me of a vampire and boom that was it… The first Figure Monsters track. I’ve also released an album called Gravity, but other than that there is always a sinister tone to all my music, even if it doesn’t have an ‘on the nose’ sample that cleary themes it.
And we gotta know, what is the scariest film you’ve ever seen?
That changes by the day, the things that actually scare me are things that could happen and how humans can turn into something worse than some mindless killer. Due to my interest in and love for the whole horror culture… I don’t really get scared like I did when I was eight years old, alone in a basement watching Hellraiser. I never try to, but it seems like every time I move to a new house, I find out it has an even worse history than the previous house. So it’s hard to say even the current greats like The Conjuring and all those scare me… When shit gets tossed around at you and you can hear someone talking in my cellar at night. A lot my DJ friends are like yeah sure … ‘Oh I’m Figure, my house is so spooky’ and then they come to stay with me for a couple days, and they end up sleeping with the light on the second night and finally question the possibility of all that. When you are brushing your teeth at 3am in a house in the middle of nowhere, and the shower curtain bursts out at you like someone fell out of the shower, you’ll leave thinking a tad different too.
Woah. You also work with Universal Studios for their annual Halloween Horror Nights – how does this process differ from writing tracks for an album?
Actually, it’s almost the same, the difference here is time. They really only need a 45-second loop for every room and scare, because that’s how long people are in any particular room at any given time. Just think about how quick you actually go through a haunted house, and how fast each room normally is. Then you have whatever theme or character they are going with. Sometimes I can just make something that sounds like the theme, without using vocals…. And sometimes I need to actually use a “Hi I’m Chucky” vocal in the Chucky room.
Awesome. If you could write the score for any film, horror or otherwise, what would it be and why?
That’s such a tough question, and I bet my answer will be different tomorrow than it is right now. But I would love to re-score Hellraiser or The Fog. Both super popular films, but for a good reason… And one of those reasons is their scores. I listen to both of those scores on vinyl at home constantly, those are the types of things I do before I go into the studio. it’s like putting on Marvin Gaye before you take your partner to bed haha.
We’ve heard one of your tracks featured in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, too – how did that happen?
That was such a insane phone call to get. I have always loved that show so much. They basically reached out to my manager and was like hey, we (one of the actors on the show) are a fan of Figure and want to use this track. I said yes right away and just waited till I could publicly announce it. I have gotten a lot of things licensed before … That one was an unexpected life goal.
And finally, what can we expect to see from Figure this year?
Well, as always I’m always on the road playing where the hell ever people care to have me. We are wrapping up the details on this next tour, which will be the last couple months of the year. And as always the next Monsters, which is the 9th instalment. Thanks!