Though coming up in EDM now, Ghastly has gone through some shit to get to this point.
From living in a van (possibly down by the river) to playing festival stages and rubbing elbows with EDM’s biggest tastemakers, David Crow has been through some shit. Better known as Ghastly, the LA-based DJ/Producer went from being a rural metal head with big dreams to being a country-touring bass music sensation with little more than a laptop and his can-do attitude. Despite a meteoric rise in the electronic music world, he remains surprisingly humble about his achievements and heartily optimistic about what 2016 has in store. We were able to catch up with Ghastly just before he swings through Colorado for shows at both the Ogden (2/5/) and Boulder (2/6) theatres with Brillz, Party Favor and Infuze on the second leg of the "Twonk Di Nation Tour."
It sounds like you’ve had a pretty wild ride getting to where you are now. Can you tell us a bit about your background story?
Well, I grew up on a farm in Arizona. I was a total rural kid that saw the city from a distance, and I was always sort of in awe of it. I always wanted to be a part of big things because I grew up in a place where there’s nothing but animals. My brother introduced me to music by playing guitar in front of me. After that, I was in a couple shitty bands, but then I got into one of band that actually did really well when I was 16 and we were able to start touring. We did a couple tours around the country which gave me my first taste of what it was like to do music for a living … but we didn’t make shit, maybe like a hundred bucks a night and a pizza. After that came to an end, I knew I wanted to do that for a living, but I wasn’t sure how. So when I was 18 I went to my first rave and saw DJs playing more than “Baby Got Back” and “Macarena,” and realized that you could really push the boundaries and play way harder stuff.
Eventually, I just packed up my shit and drove out to LA with enough money to get by for about a month. So I was living out of my van and trying to get a job, but I just kept hustling until I had enough money to move into a place, but it was in a part of downtown LA called “Skid Row” which is extremely dangerous. Actually, that’s how I came up with the name “Ghastly,” because the place where I was living was just so reckless and chaotic — the Pokémon, Gastly, had nothing to do with it, I swear. At one point I blew it and lost everything and had to move back to the farm, but that was about the time I was working with Mija and we made a song called “Crank It,” and things started to look up so I just put my foot on the gas and here I am.
So now that you’re here, do you ever feel like you got into the game too late? Like the EDM craze has come and gone?
I think that every big wave of music has its own changes within itself. You know, in the beginning people are like, 'this is our secret that no one knows about,' but of course when something is good it’s going to get popular, and once it gets popular there’s always the chance that it’ll collapse on itself. But I think (electronic music) has proven year after year that it’s a staple in our culture. I mean there was that huge boom a couple years ago and I wasn’t where I am now during that time, but it’s what inspired to push harder and get to where I am now. It’s not about what time you get there, just as long as you show up. At the end of the day, (DJs) are just trying to push music out there and give people some kind of release. I’m pretty content with that.
What have you been working on lately?
Just before you called I finished up a remix for DJ Snake’s song, “Propaganda,” and I’m really excited for that one. Aside from that I’ve been working on an EP for a label which I can’t disclose at the moment. I’ve also been looking for things to do outside of music too. So I’ve been pretty busy with a few different projects. Even on my days off I don’t really chill, I just keep working.
What are some of your goals for 2016?
One is to collaborate with Miley Cyrus. Another would be to have a song on the radio. And another would be to just continue bringing good vibes to the world like I’ve been trying to do. In general, I’m just trying to take things to the next level … I don’t really feel like I’ve 'made it' — but I feel like this ladder can go even higher.
Who have you met along your journey that just left you star struck?
Honestly, being star struck kind of fades pretty quickly. It’s easy when you see these people from the crowd to imagine them as sort of inhuman, but at the end of the day, it’s just their job to be that person, to be who they are. It’s best to just treat people like they’re humans and be real with them. One of my favorite things is when a fan meets me, if they just talk to me about stuff and try to get to know me rather than kind of interviewing me.
It looks like your shows get pretty nuts, what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen at one of your shows?
[Laughing] Honestly my vision has gotten really really bad over the last couple of years because I’ve been sitting with my face in a computer for hours — sometimes like eleven hours at a time. It has totally messed up my far sight. I can kind of see the people in the front row, but past that it’s just sort of a mass of blurry bodies moving around.
Does not being able to see help out with stage fright?
[Lauging] Actually I like getting nervous for shows because it makes me feel a little more excited about it, but I don’t think my eyesight has any impact on it.
Do you have a pre-show ritual or warm-up that you do to take care of the nerves?
I try to just step away from everyone for a second and think to myself. I used to drink to get rid of the nerves, but I much prefer playing sober these days because I’m more in control and not thinking random thoughts that have nothing to do with the set that I should be focusing on. Yeah, for the better of last year I’ve been just keeping it sober.
What’s with the hand to mouth thing?
I’m not sure I can really give it a meaning. I feel like if I gave it a meaning, it would lost its meaning. It just became a thing, and I like leaving it as whatever it is.