Ghost Ponies: Speaking with Ghosts
Ghost Ponies is the latest addition to the NNJN fam. Fronted by Jordan Levinson, this human honed her craft in NYC and moved to Cape Town, South Africa (via a bunch of different places) in 2018.
Since 2018, she's been exploring her surrounds, herself, and has written a few songs which we'll be releasing over the coming months. We caught up with this fine ol dandy and the result is the interview below.
Now Now Just Now: We're releasing your debut video, 'Glory' on Friday 3 November. The track is part of an EP that'll be released next year. Why did you pick this song as the lead single?
Ghost Pony: It's my favourite of the songs I've written since moving to South Africa. There's something that encapsulates a mood and a complexity that I'm proud of. It really speaks to the transition between where I was and where I am now.
There's a lot about duality, a bit about death and spiritual transformation, about living in a new and complex place. There's also this dichotomy of living in a chaotic neighbourhood and also feeling intensely inspired and elevated - basically getting used to holding all kinds of truths at once.
“This is a transition period in my life, a crux”
N: Alright alright, so you’re all on your own in the video, should we all consider Ghost Pony a traditional solo project?
G: Collaboration is important to me. Writing with people I admire has been one of the best parts of my life. This project, though, is focused on going deeper into my own writing than I have in previous times. Occasionally collaborators like Jaques [ @mrcatandthejackal ] will sometimes sit in on something and contribute a short lead line or some texture, but I'm really doing most things on my own. This is a transition period in my life, a crux, so there's a lot to write about.
N: Then is the initial writing process a private one?
G: Writing is intensely private for me. I don't even like writing when my partner is in the house. I’m pretty incapable of showing anything to people until it's basically done. There's a point of completion where it just feels like it's written. From there it feels a little less vulnerable. I do love other people's interpretations of the things I write though, and I've recently been re-writing songs from 10 - 15 years ago with a completely different take - I don’t think things like this are meant to stay fully static; it’s nice when they can breathe a bit
“It's not such a top-down or an ego-driven thing anymore”
N: Writing alone can be daunting for some, it's interesting that you actively seek out solitude in the writing process. Do you have a P.R.O.C.E.S.S.?
G: I don't actively write things, I just really try to clear my brain and things arrive. I used to walk a lot and hear a lot more lyrics and melodies, and then I’d go home and write the music. Now I walk less and I'm simultaneously putting more discipline into the practice of playing. I'll sit and play guitar and see what lyrics come from the song. Then my hands need a break and I’ll pace around and finish the lyrics. This is a lot like what I used to do with Tiny Beast [ her previous Brooklyn-based band ]. The band would start playing whatever and I’d listen to it for a bit until I heard the right melody. You’re focusing on the music and it creates kind of a the meditative state that sets the stage for the lyrics to appear
N: You’re speaking a lot about transitions and changes, and self reflection. Have you found the way you approach your music has changed?
G: It's harder than it used to be, in a way. Writing when you're young; when I was in my 20's everything was so frenetic and pure. Now it's more contemplative and more interesting. It's no longer about just documenting some failed romantic entanglement. It's not such a top-down or an ego-driven thing anymore, now it’s about the real big and scary questions of life and love and spirituality and all that. Some people continue to exist in that real fiery space and it can drive a lot of great work, but it's a tough way to live - now I just want to be happy.