It’s going to be a big year for area indie folk band Ghost Tiger. Alongside the release of their first-ever EP, Some Friends Feel Like Family, the Santa Barbara natives will journey up the West Coast for their first tour. The expedition kicks off with a hometown EP release show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on Saturday, January 17. In anticipation, I sat down with lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Alixandra Macmillan-Fiedel to talk about the production, inspiration, and birth of the band’s EP.
How long did it take to put this EP together? We’ve been working on these songs for quite some time. We recorded six of the seven songs with producer Jason Quever of Papercuts up in Stinson Beach at this studio called the Panoramic House. It’s this incredible studio right about the ocean. We posted up there for a week and didn’t leave. Then we got selected to be one of the Grow Music artists in Santa Ynez. Composer/producer Christopher Tyng, who did the music for Futurama, has an amazing studio there. He started this pay-it-forward style project and selected a bunch of bands from all over the country, brought them in for a long weekend completely for free, and recorded and produced one song with videos and everything. We recorded our single “Science Camp” with him back in March, and since then, we’ve been working on tracking the rest of the EP.
What’s it like staying in someone else’s house and singing songs that are so intimate to you? It was amazing and really intense. We had a couple breakdowns. We were working morning to night, more than eight hours a day. It’s always been a dream of mine to just go into one place and not leave for recording. I think that that process is reflected in the recording. We all brought sleeping bags and food and made some really delicious meals. We tracked the EP in the living room. We had some really beautiful views and could go on walks in our spare time. Nature is a really big theme in the EP, and being in that house instead of in a dark studio really came through in the music. It kind of felt like we were going insane, but I think it really pushed us in a good way. It was a challenge, and we weren’t sure if we were going to finish it, but we did.
Where did you find inspiration for your EP? This EP was really heavily inspired by my personal experiences. I had moved back from New York five years ago, and being back in nature and having that change in landscape really set the tone of the music. I feel like it is a very “West Coast” EP. I was listening to a bunch of different things at the time: Fleetwood Mac, Feist, Fleet Foxes. My songs are definitely a healthy combination of fact and fiction. For the most part, though, they are sparked by an experience I had or a friend’s experience. Usually I start with just an acoustic guitar and write the melody, lyrics, and chords. Then I bring it to the band.
Could you ever see yourself doing something other than this? I couldn’t not be in music. In high school, I wanted to be an actress. I went to Paris my junior year, to an acting school, and planned to come back and move to L.A., but I had a weird, crazy experience in Paris and started writing music again. I got tickets to a concert in this old theater called The Olympia. At the end of the concert, the band said, “We really like to hear new music, so if anyone wants to come up and play something, they can. But it has to be original.” I hadn’t written in a while, but at the last minute I was like, what the hell. I raised my hand, and he picked me. I went onstage, and he put his guitar around me and said, “All right, we have four minutes left. Just go for it.” So I played a song, and it was a surreal experience. Being on the stage just woke me back up into how much I wanted to do music.