Since the first time I saw the movie 54 in 7th grade (don’t ask me why my parents allowed me to watch this sexy drugfest when I was 11, and don’t ask me why they let me eat chocolate for breakfast every day for a month in 4th grade or drive without a license either!), I have had recurring fantasies of strapping on a sweet lame disco dress, mounting a horse and riding in to disco heaven all cool-like and what not. I’d dismount, roll up next to Mick Jagger on one side, Grace Jones and Truman Capote on the other, drink copious amounts of champagne only, and get my awkward disco boogie on. Tragic flaw in this whole plan is that Studio 54 is closed, it’s not 1982 anymore, and disco died on the horse it rode in on.
Tragic flaws must be for suckers, though, because disco is very much a-bubbling underneath the surface of the cool-kids-musical era, thanks in large part to dance doctors Holy Ghost! Comprised of Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel, the group hit it big in 2008 when they were tapped by DFA records to release a song called “Hold On”. The rest is disco heaven– the song was a critical hit and spawned the duo’s first club anthem–but the road to heaven is not always paved in polyester leisure suit intentions. The two met as kids growing up on the Upper West Side. Alex’s father was a writer for the USA Today’s crime beat, who would often drag his son along on mafia busts and hangouts. Nick, however, lived a bit more conventional life, with Nick’s parents dabbling in real estate development. Growing up in New York, the two buddies were exposed to a variety of sounds, and began making beats together as early as high school. Nick played drums, while Alex played keyboard, in rap group Automato, which was picked up by Capital Records in 2004. After Automato disbanded just a short two years later, the enterprising duo decided to stick together and continue making music together, with Alex taking on the vocal responsibilities. Always fascinated by electronic gear and disco sounds since their younger days, Nick and Alex decided to shift from hip-hop heavy beats to lighter fare.
Relying on often obscure, analog-based instruments and old-skool gear such as the Roland Organs and Wurlitzer Electronic Pianos, Holy Ghost! creates a disco-friendly sound that is both retro and current at the same time (don’t ask me how that’s possible, just like how you won’t ask me why my parents actually encouraged me to watch Suspiria when I was only 10!). With simulated hand claps, analog induced base beats, and surging dance-pop melodies, it’s impossible to avoid dancing to a Holy Ghost! track. Hit “Hold On” was followed by the even bigger smash “I Will Come Back”, as well as successful remixes for Cut Copy, MGMT, and even DJ god Moby. The boys soon linked up with dance revival record distribution company Green Label Sounds. The NYC artists found themselves sitting cozy with similarly disco and dance enthusiasts/revisionists including Chromeo and Solid Gold.
Beyond disco, Holy Ghost! also incorporates elements of disco’s offshoot– New Wave dance–into their sound. Nick and Alex are heavily inspired by the early 80s edgier dance scene, particularly pioneers like New Order. They were so inspired that so-good-that-Steve-Rubell-woulda-had-a-wet-dream duo remade New Order’s video for the 1983 single “Confusion” when it came time to drop a video for their own “I Will Come Back”. A mix of live footage, nightclub film, and influential DJ Arthur Baker. The result is nothing short of epic, and although there is no lame, horses, or overt coke-snorting, I still co-sign this amazing piece of video art.
What’s up next for this retro-bending, disco-devoted team? Holy Ghost! is currently working on remixes for the likes of Pheonix and Friendly Fires, as well as working on material for their debut album. They even recruited Michael McDonald to guest star on their forthcoming masterpiece (don’t ask me how they did it, just like you won’t ask me any of the other things we talked about earlier! got it?!). You’ll have to “Hold On” (ha ha, see what I did there?! I’m on a roll today) for their album to drop, but in the meantime, enjoy their video for “I Will Come Back”, and peep a download link to their mashup for the song with Black Van’s “Yearning”!
Watch “I Will Come Back”
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