Ghostly International at the Neutral Zone

The Neutral Zone and record label Ghostly International have been in contact since 2006. Neutral Zone music coordinator Charlie Reischl and Ghostly Producer Matthew Dear had been planning a workshop about home recording, touring tips, social media, publishing, and producing facilitated by Ghostly’s top artists. Since planning from August of 2016, many internationally known artists agreed to talk with teens interested in the music or producing business.

On Oct. 25, teenagers from around the state, along with Neutral Zone staff, came to the Neutral Zone in hopes of being informed by internationally known artists. Gathering in the NZ Bside, artists such as Starchild and The New Romantic, Lord Raja, Tadd Millinix, Kllo, and several others sat amongst the audience. Reischl and Ghostly managers Sam Valenti and Amanda Colbenson sat at the front of the venue, getting everyone’s attention. Rows of teenagers sat quietly, all holding the workshop schedules. Before the event began, the artists and staff disclaimed some ground rules such as confidentiality rules and ways to maintain respect. While the artists introduced themselves, they explained how they are associated with Ghostly and what they do for a living.

As the introduction came to an end, Reischl went down the list of workshop names. He explained what each workshop would be covering and how informative they’d be. The recording studio held two workshops: Beat/vocal collaboration and home recording. The artists leading all have been producing or making music for at least five years, resulting in them having very wise and descriptive advice.

The home recording studio started with Starchild and Raja describing how in years past, they didn’t always use the most expensive equipment. “We didn’t really care what speakers we were using,” Raja said. “It didn’t have to be the most high-end microphone or software. Whatever we had, whatever we could borrow from people.” Raja and Starchild live on the very same street nowadays, and have been collaborating since the beginning of college. They both started off as introverts and with not a lot of music recording experience. They progressed together and grew into the artists they are today, feeding off of eachothers sounds and styles.

The collaboration workshop taught the audience about coming out of your comfort zone, and asking artists to collaborate with art. Millinix helps independent musicians make their music come together with a unique feel to it. He described how it isn’t always easy, but the artist is always happy in the end. “I got vocals from AG from DITC,” said Millinix. “I gave him something back and he was like, ‘That’s not the type of beat I normally do’…but he said that he really liked it.” He also explained how collaboration is a big part in becoming a well known musician.

At the end of the workshops, the artists spread out around the venue and were open for any teen or staff to come and ask questions. They handed out their business and personal emails to those who asked for them, and answered any question that was thrown at them.

Matthew Dear answered the question, “Do you think that not having a loud personality holds you back from collaborating from other artists”, asked by Kaye Hoff. He revealed that as a 16 year-old, he had both moments of extroverted and introverted behavior. “Knowing when to let your freak flag fly and be a dork, wild and loud I think is good,” Dear said. “Knowing when not to is also important.” He wants young artists to know that you don’t have to be really out there now at the beginning, and that it’s okay to be an introvert and a musician at the same time.

As the lights dimmed, Dear gave his last thought to the group. “You have to put one foot in front of the other and once you’ve started, you kind of understand that ‘okay, now I’m a musician’. It takes that dedication and is definitely a cliff you have to jump off of.” As the artists trickled out at the end of the night, they left a lasting impression on every teen and staff member in attendance. The advice given will echo through youth ears until it’s drowned out by their own stage performances.