Sonosphere corresponded over email with Josh Hwang founder of spirit goth and songwriter/producer for the project, Castlebeat about the impetus for the spirit goth label, how he works with artists on the label, latest releases and what’s in store for spirit goth.
He also provided a compilation for us to share with you! Find out more about spirit goth at www.spiritgoth.com
When did you create spirit goth?
I started spirit goth as a net label in college around the start of 2016 as a way to release my own music and my friends’ music. I always enjoyed discovering new music, and I want to bring that experience to others by exposing smaller/new artists.
The name comes from one of the first lofi garage-rock songs I ever made called ‘downtown spirit goth.’ I just kind of liked the name and stuck with it.
How do you find your artists?
I used to find a lot of artists through soundcloud, bandcamp, and some small blogs. But now we get a lot of demo submissions. Putting together the HPSTR GEMS playlists every couple months, which are made up of 10 dreampop/shoegaze “hidden gems” that I’m listening to at that time, is another way I find artists.
What do you look for in an artist/band? How do you shape or “feel out” the “sound of spirit goth”?
Diy diy diy diy diy.
I look for a good melody above anything else. Next thing I look for is the style and how the melodies are presented. I really like when artists do all the recording/producing themselves. It just sounds more natural than a clean-cut studio recording.
We don’t force the artists into any binding contracts. The way we work is very mutual, more like a relationship with the artist to help them get their music out. So it’s very important to me that I can work well with the artist, and also important that the artist wants a diy release versus a corporate release. At the end of the day it’s the artist’s music and I like to let them make the decisions – release date, format, music video, etc.. My role is to just help them get it done.
What is your preferred “genre” or sound to represent on the label? Is it mostly personal taste or does some consumer demand play in?
Some of the genres that spirit goth represents are dreampop, shoegaze, and postpunk. But overall, it’s just lo-fi music that I really love. Each release is selected because I dig the sound and think that other people will dig it too.
Who was the first spirit goth artist/band?
My high school lofi surf pop band, Jaded Juice Riders. I recorded an 8-track album called ‘Girlfight’ and decided to release it myself.
Who is the newest addition to the label?
We just released an EP for a Spanish dream pop band, Terry vs. Tori. One of the reasons why I like this band is because my mom is Spanish and I grew up listening to lot of older Spanish music like Alsaka y los Pegamoides and Hombres G. In general, it’s always exciting for me to find international artists.
But we are currently in the process of releasing a full-length album by a band called Foliage. So far there’s one single out and another one releasing later this month. Full album release will be in mid July.
Has the label evolved since the beginning? If so, how?
Yes, we’ve evolved from a digital net label to hand-making physical merchandise for our artists. However, now I am starting to outsource the merchandise labor because it has become very tedious.
I also no longer run every single aspect of the label by myself anymore. I’ve been getting help from friends and my girlfriend who handles the social media and weighs in on demo decisions.
How important is physical copies of music? I know a lot of folks just stream or download but the cassette and vinyl game is going pretty strong right now.
We have yet to do vinyl, but I usually will record the cassettes and make the CD’s in my room. I think streaming and downloading is really great but there’s something really special about owning a cassette or CD of a band you like, especially if they are a smaller diy-focused artist. We’re trying to make our cassette tapes more collectible.
Streaming services have been great for finding new music. How is it working through bandcamp/soundcloud? Does that drive the business?
Yeah the spirit goth store is basically just a bandcamp account. I think it’s great because it makes it easy for people to find the music, and it’s very simple and low maintenance for me.
What are you excited about for the next year for your label? What do plan for future?
I’m excited for the releases we have coming up. Also working on making vinyl records available. And we’ve been talking to promoters about possibly putting together a small spirit goth music fest somewhere.