Dancing with Ghosts is an electronic/alternative band from Jacksonville, Florida. Recently they released their new album Hex. The main focus of the album is mental illness. We were lucky enough to chat with vocalist and guitarist Josh Cannon discussing Hex in more detail.
OSR: Just by looking at the artwork for Hex it looks, to me at least, like there was an impression of Beetlejuice, The Joker and Harley Quinn. Is there a special meaning behind it?
JC: We are portraying characters that came from our various music videos and they each have their own background that we created. The female character is named Alaric and she is a succubus of nightmares and mischief. She can often be attributed to the feeling of unease that keeps you up at night. The male character is named Kalus and stems from Haitian Vodou. He’s the devil on the side of your shoulder that is telling you to ‘do it’.
OSR: I also notice that there’s a shadow in the background between the two figures. Does this represent something?
JC: The shadow in the background represents the third character in our dynamic, and that would be the music. The music is dark and has a sinister vibe to it, which is represented by the claw hand reaching out on the album cover.
OSR: I get a dark and mysterious vibe from the overall sound of the album; does this match how you were feeling when you wrote the album?
JC: For the most part, yes. I tend to favour the minor chords and the darker sound textures. Also, when it comes to writing lyrics, both Stephanie and I usually write as a form of therapy, so the lyrics are usually about struggling with some inner demons.
OSR: If you’re comfortable sharing, is there a story behind ‘A Glorious Night (A Glorious Lie)’?
JC: Yes, of course. ‘Glorious Night’ is essentially about an addict. Someone who blames all their problems and inadequacies on the world around them, and manages these feelings by self-medicating. I used to be this guy. I would drink in excess every single night. No matter what kind of crap I had to deal with during the day, I could always look forward to the night when I would get to consume large amounts of alcohol and forget about my problems temporarily. When the bridge of this song kicks in, it’s basically me having an argument with my conscience and how I am heading down a path of destruction, whether I’d like to admit it or not.
OSR: Based on the lyrics of ‘The Nightmare Inside’, it sounds like you’re in a state of sleep paralysis or a really bad nightmare. Is there one particular event that led to the creation of this song?
JC: You are fairly accurate in your lyrical assessment. If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack you know how scary it is to be lying in bed at night feeling like you’re going insane or worse. The verses of this song are from the perspective of the sufferer, and the choruses are from the perspective of the antagonists (in this case Alaric).
The ‘talking’ style in the verses came from the fact that this song started out as a rap that was going to have a melodic chorus. After hearing myself trying to rap I quite wisely scrapped that idea and just stuck with the fast-talking. *laughs*
OSR: In ‘Circles’ what do you mean when you say ‘My mind’s the rope, my hands in fists. Acid rain is dripping down into my eyes.’?
JC: Circles is essentially an examination of the way in which my anxiety manifests itself. Those particular lyrics tie into the way my mind can seemingly bind my actions, those that I know would serve as more self-preserving or safer ways to go about life. If my hands are bound, I can’t block the acid rain from my eyes.
When you are going through anxiety or a panic attack, it can be a struggle to react to normal day to day stimuli in a normal way. It’s scary because while YOU might have your best interests in mind in that moment, your brain may not.
OSR: I sense many different emotions in the album, but if you had to pick the main feeling what would you say Hex as a whole leans towards?
JC: For me, personally, the main feeling that I get when I listen to the album as a whole is ‘wow, we put a lot of time and effort into these songs and they came out sounding great’. It’s impossible for me to be objective at this point, but I would say the feeling would be dark and melodic.
OSR: Is there a connection between the album artwork and the album itself? If so, what is it?
JC: If you’re a fan of our live shows or music videos, you’re well aware of the characters portrayed on the album cover. Since we were starting to dress more and more like these characters, we felt it only right to have them be front and centre on the new album. This fully shows people that THIS is who we are and what we are doing at this current moment in time.
OSR: What do the initials ‘W.D.E.G.T.B.A.Y’ stand for?
JC: ‘Why Does Everything Get to be About You’
OSR: Is there a connection between your different albums Hex, The Nightmare Inside You, Koyaanisqatsi, and Spirit of Beblow: Impressions of Holy Island?
JC: *laughs* Oh man, Spirit of Beblow.
So, there is an English band who is also called Dancing with Ghosts and even though we trademarked our name here in the States, that trademark doesn’t affect other parts of the world. So Spirit of Beblow does not connect to us at all. What the hell is a Beblow even?
As far as our actual albums, Koyaanisqatsi was a concept album about dealing with mental illness and needing a new way to live. The Nightmare Inside You is, for all intents and purposes, an EP and we’ve always viewed it as such. There is no real concept or idea behind that album aside from ‘these are our new songs that we are excited about’. The Hex connection is the fact that it is a compilation of the best songs from the first album and second album with a few new treats sprinkled in. Hex is the definitive album that represents what we do at this point in our careers.