From working on his parent’s goat farm to headlining Omnia nightclub, Arizona native David Lee Crow certainly didn’t have the most traditional foray into the dance music world. Crow, more popularly known as Ghastly, had no shortage of words for us about his journey into the electronic music scene. He went from showering in a Jack in the Box bathroom, to climbing his way up through the LA electronic music scene, to now touring across the world. While few producers have a glamorous ascension, the bass house savant overcame being homeless on his journey, which is certainly a story few have to tell.
Crow’s candid disposition was apparent as he spoke with us about everything from mental health to why he is willing to share so much of himself to his fans while most artists hide behind a stage persona. Most profound is his insistence upon the fact that “haters” provide the most value to him as he navigates the world of being a renown producer.
You’ve gone from growing up on a goat farm to traveling the world and playing at festivals and in nightclubs. Those two universes really couldn’t be farther apart. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Have you ever heard of Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is something that happens to people when they suddenly make that thing that they always wanted to happen, happen. They wake up and they can’t believe they are them. And they actually start having these moments when they are like wait, am I allowed to be me? Am I allowed to be in this body and doing these things? It’s a super surreal feeling, and it messes with some artists’ heads in a bad way. For me it makes me more inspired because I don’t think back to a time when I was at college or anything that most people were doing. I was saving up money, working on music while making goat cheese, you know?
I was literally going to a farmers market and setting up a tent and saying “Hi there, my name is David, would you like to try any of my goat cheese today? We’ve got peppercorn, and we also have butter pecan that tastes just like graham crackers– it’s really good.” And then one day that whole announcement changes to (mock screaming) “EDC are you fucking ready?!” and it’s just like the juxtaposition there has left me in awe of how capable anyone is of achieving anything, and I full heartedly believe that.
I try my best to be living proof of it, and I constantly and consistently recommend that people just give it a try — whatever it is that you want whether it is to be on the Oprah show or run a fast food chain or even save a couple of dogs, whatever it is– just give it a try and achieve that one thing. And if you can’t achieve it, that’s cool just do things that you love and eventually things pan out as the best version of your life as long as you do things for you, and I try to be an example of that.
What was going through your head when you made the decision to leave home even though that meant being homeless to try and make it in music?
The reason I was able to even fathom it was because I was in a metal band that used to live in vans. We would do a U.S. tour, and it was just the five of us and a merch person. If we couldn’t find a place to sleep and couldn’t stay at someone’s house, and didn’t want to pay for a hotel, we would just sleep in a van. We got really good at puzzling ourselves onto the floor board so that we could sleep, and there instilled my love for traveling; my love for the vagabond lifestyle; and it instilled my love for music so much more.
When the band kind of started falling apart, and I knew it was going to end up staying local– I was like okay, I really love these 3 things, why don’t I try them out in LA? I will make it happen because I combined traveling with vagabond with music, and the only difference was instead of waking up and doing a show, I would have to wake up and do job interviews, and then write songs in the Jack in the Box parking lot so that I could charge in the bathroom. They have a great bathroom there. It was like a solo bathroom, so that was where I did a lot of my showers and shaving.
A lot of artists have an on-stage and online persona that is far from their true selves. You are very open about your depression, your political views, and your life on social media .Is this just you? Was being so open a conscious decision once you had a big following?
I don’t think it’s even a decision. It’s just who I am naturally. I really feel there are two kinds of artists. There is fame, and then there is platform. Fame is always I agree with everything and a neutral opinion. Look at Mark Wahlberg. He doesn’t express any of his views ever. He doesn’t express political or religious beliefs. He is what I would define as a fame platform. And then you have different public figures who always express what they believe even when it costs them a portion of their fan base. They do this because they feel it is important to say and share. Not only that, but the fans who leave and are disagreeable will actually go out and talk about the person they disagree with even more. This brings in more people who are relative to that person’s mindset, and these people see platforms as a place where they can associate with someone on a bigger level than just their music, and that is purely a product of social media generation.
There was never a time like that for the Grateful Dead, and there was never a time when you checked John Lennon’s Tweets to see what he had for breakfast, and what he thought about building a wall. Ultimately this is a generation that is so open to others thoughts now to where anything you think might end up in front of the entire world whereas before it was a polar opposite society. I think it’s cool to connect with people on every single level. I can connect with people on a bigger level when I’m authentic versus on a smaller level if I just wanted to be likeable.
You tweeted to fans “for all of my fans who have been so accepting of me experimenting with different styles- I have some long awaited bass house presents for you” before releasing “Geisha.” Fans in this scene are super critical of experimentation. For every new fan you get through experimenting, there are haters who disparage the new direction. How do you deal with this as an artist?
Haters are free advertising. They talk more about you than people who like you. People who like you won’t say anything unless they play one of my songs and someone is like “oh you like this?” and you reply “Yeah i like them to.” Someone who hates you will bring you up in a conversation out of nowhere, and that’s how anyone who is hated ever gains anything. Like the ‘catch me outside’ girl– why is she so famous? Well, that’s because you won’t stop talking about her.