by Anabel DFlux
– Sr. Photojournalist —
From the brilliant mind of Axel Otero comes Lay Your Ghost- a Synthpop project drawing inspiration from Darkwave, 80’s New Wave and Goth music. With the release of Ritual through Control Records, Axel had much to say about his phenomenal musical endeavors, both as the mastermind of Lay Your Ghost and as a producer. Senior journalist Anabel DFlux had a lovely phone call with Axel to cover all of the topics that we know the fans are dying to know about.
Axel had started writing most of the songs off of Ritual when he was finishing his first album (A Darker Love). “I started finishing it during March in Seattle at Hell’s Half Acre. That is William Control’s studio. There is no concept- like a set concept- for this new album Ritual, but I was mainly inspired (in terms of lyrics and stuff like that) by horror movies and stories. I was trying to capture that sort-of vibe on this album.” Says Axel. In regards to writing the album, Axel expresses that he tends to write the instrumental part of the music before the lyrics come into play. The Lay Your Ghost frontman continues with “it’s hard to explain the whole process because, most of the time, it is trial and error. It’s just spending hours trying to perfect everything.” As all exceptional art is, testing out ideas and theories often lead to remarkable results. However, Axel did has a mood in mind for Ritual. “I really wanted to just put that sort of [dark] vibe out there, I wanted it to look dark in terms of artwork, and I wanted the lyrics to have a dark vibe as well. I wanted the music to also sound like that, so I was conscious of that for sure.”
As music goes hand-in-hand with visual aesthetic, the album cover plays a significant role in bringing the music to life. The album cover for Ritual was made by a friend of Axel’s, ArrowHead Studios, who had previously worked on another Lay Your Ghost album. “What inspired that was, back to what I was saying with capturing that darker vibe when I was writing the album that song ritual stood out the most for me for the album title. I could definitely get away with something cool with that name. The concept of this figure, this girl, just floating being possessed by something in the woods, that is what I was telling my friend. He developed that really quick and it came out really awesome.”
Axel expresses that his favorite song off of the EP happens to be Void, due to feeling that this particular song is one of the best he’s ever written thus far. “It definitely captures everything I wanted to do with Lay Your Ghost from the start.” A close second is Ritual. Axel’s biggest musical inspirations are ever changing, but in current times, he draws from the electronic music and music that leans toward the darker side of things, such as goth music from the 80s, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, and New Order. He is also influenced by modern music as well, such as pop music. He applies various aspects of those interests to Lay Your Ghost, which come together to create the sound. “I try to capture that vibe from the 80s gothic music and try to make it more modern and catchy. As a musician and a songwriter, it is really hard to put out a set ‘top 5 influences’.”
Axel also divides his time as a producer for Control Records. “What I tend to do in Control Records is basically everything with the music aspect. I would write songs, pitch ideas, engineer albums. I would mix albums and stuff like that. With what we’ve put out, I have mixed the new Black Blinds album and also part of William Control’s new albums as well. We have a lot of new projects along the ways as well, just waiting to release those. I mostly pretty much engineering, producing, songwriting, or simply just throwing out ideas depending on the project.”
Axel’s family is not musical at all- but music was always around him growing up. “Being from Puerto Rico, and being Latino, we tend to listen to a lot of music. We are always dancing and partying and stuff like that, it is part of the culture. In that aspect, music was always in me. It all started when I was around 9 or 10 years old, I was watching a music video, a rock band playing and I just saw the guitar and said ‘I want to do that’.”