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The Director's Cut: GHEIST - Zukunft

GHEIST take us behind the scenes of their debut album
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Recently, Berlin band GHEIST released their debut LP Zukunft via their own imprint Radau Music. Working their way through the challenges posed by 2020 and beyond, GHEIST delivers an album that presents the two sides of their artistic and musical personalities; club-focused tracks alongside music that is difficult to classify, with the aim of providing an honest interpretation of their artistic expression.

GHEIST - Zukunft

GHEIST - Zukunft

The album title Zukunft translates directly from German as "Future," one which GHEIST looks toward with collective optimism. Taking the time to slow down and reflect during the past 18 months has led the band to this point, slowly crafting their album from top to bottom with minute detail allowing them to pour emotions into each song. Their long affinity with songwriting, composition, and melody has defined their process of crafting powerful electronic music; each song is a story, a feeling, or a moment that has been experienced by all.

“Creating ‘Zukunft’ was a very intense and rewarding phase, which marks a new area in our musical and personal lives. We're filled with joy and pride, knowing we've never been alone throughout this entire, very fragile process, and we are thrilled and excited to finally reward the trust that has been given to us” - GHEIST

How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.

Words by GHEIST



1. Ashes

When we started this song we went in an entirely different direction. There was a beat, different harmonies, and a much more uplifting approach. This was also quiet at the beginning of our album production and we were collecting lots of ideas. When we revisited this one the vocal and how its melody works were sticking with us, so we decided to go for a different appeal and started to re-harmonize the vocal with a vocoder and built the whole track around that. It also became quite clear that this one has to be the intro of the album as it draws you in immediately and also lyrically sets the mood and what’s to come. “We wake out of ashes.“

2. We Are Not Alone

This was the first song on the album and it came so easy. The whole thing basically happened in the hotel room before a surprise birthday party. There was already a short loop of the harmonies and the drums and when we listened to it while waiting for the birthday boy, the vocal just happened and we quickly recorded it on a phone. A few days later we went back to the studio and worked out all the details and the arrangement. Honestly, this track still means the world to us as it marks the beginning of a very intense and rewarding creative phase and it also very much set the tone for it all.

3. Home Again

At the beginning of this song was the vocal which happened during a movie, which sounds kind of weird but sometimes things come unexpected and you never know when you’re inspired or not. Basically, there was this piano soundtrack theme in the middle of that movie and one thing led to another and we captured a spontaneous jam on a phone again. Later on, we went back to it, gave the track new harmonies, and started to produce it. The original idea was just the vocal with a piano and it underlined very much the bad break up it refers to, so we intentionally created a contrast to the lyrics with a quite uplifting production, mainly driven by the baseline.

4. Decourse

"Decourse" in a way is a perfect example of how we usually work through our tracks. In the beginning, there is always a piano which we use to create the chord progressions and melodies coming from a very song-driven angle, after that we start putting everything in a much more detailed production. In this case, we also had these very specific drums from the beginning on and we have been able to build our way through the arrangement quite fast.

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Some tracks have an instant vibe and you just simply fly through the process. At some point later on we were wondering if we give the drum another feel but we decided to keep it as it was intended as it also feels like a unique approach to us that kind of makes a lot of its charm.

5. You

The whole track evolved around the lead-synth pattern which takes you on a constant journey always changing a little. You is one of those early songs during the writing process of the album and feels like sisters of "We Are Not Alone" and "Zeit." There is something mysterious about this track like a first encounter or a passing shadow. Even though it is a breakbeat track there is a certain weight and power to it, which draws you in and makes you want to dance.

6. Zeit

"Zeit" also happened in an early stage of the album which also was the beginning of the pandemic. We have been in a phase where we actually saw the chance to be more creative as everything around us slowed down so much. "I can create more than ever" - the first line of the lyrics became somehow a slogan to us. And on top of it the title of this one "Zeit" which means time, fits so well as it also describes the different perceptions of it to everyone. To us it was a creative phase that went by quite fast, to others around us everything felt weird, slow, and uninspired. One thing is for sure, it definitely was a very special time.

7. Higher Ground

Usually, in our productions there is quite a lot going on, "Higher Ground" takes it down a notch, even though the beat edges on a drum & bass feel. This song is also slightly introverted like a conversation with yourself – "Higher ground is not what I came for, I won’t go back and forth." The aesthetics of the synthesizers have a slight 80s touch which is also not usual for GHEIST but feels right and somehow refreshing.

This track sticks out as it feels a little ought, even the vocals appear differently as they somehow have an ‘Elvis’ touch to them.

8. Unfinished Sympathy

At some point during the whole process of the album, we realized how much we love to simply hang out in the evenings while making music and this song happened on one of those nights. The whole thing started with this very specific synth sound which immediately gave us the feeling of these old Timberlake hip hop productions and we started to add this very catchy melody. From then on everything went really fast, the vocals and the lyrics came together really quick and we already started to arrange the track - by the way, the vocal take is still the one from this night. After about 8 hours the song was done in exactly the version as it is on the album and we had an amazing time hanging out.

9. Egos

When we decided to actually go for a whole album we wanted to create a new perspective on our musical future as GHEIST, which is also the reason for our album title Zukunft, which is German for future. This song describes our intentions to do so the best, as it is the furthest away from club music as such on the entire album we have always been driven by the idea to play live concerts at some point and this song became kind of a symbol for this approach.

10. Dancing with Demons

This one is also one of those songs which happened in a night session while hanging out. It was the second night in a row and we wanted to do something more uplifting, that’s also why this track is the fastest on the album. We had this great energy and each one of us was contributing one idea after the other – "The whole world is under my thumb." There’s nothing like sharing a creative process like this, we are very grateful for those times when you reach a state of flow with each other. On top of that this track has everything we stand for, there is a breakbeat, a very catchy and rhythmic synth pad that evolves during the break, harmonies with a slightly melancholic but still uplifting feel, and an exciting vocal.

11. Shoot Your Lies

"Shoot Your Lies" turned out to be one of the most cinematic songs of the album with its dark but inviting synth chord progression it draws your attention and sucks you in. We put a lot of thought into the arrangement of this song as it is not at all a typical club track or anything like it. The drums feel kind of loose and shaky but there is a very strong pulse in the song after the build-up when it goes back into the vocal it gets a certain hypnotic drive and it gets even more special as the baseline changes the existing harmonies and therefore adds even more tempo to it. Not just the music even the lyrics inspire a collective feel and understanding and invite you to let go. – "Shoot your lies, kill your hunger, the old empire flies. Close your eyes, imagine only us, our numbers surely rise."

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