Spooky Diamonds is a Louisville-based trio consisting of rapper/vocalist Chris Ghoul, bassist Conner Powell, and multi-instrumentalist Casey Powell. The genre-blending group comes from a psychedelic space and travels through the worlds of dance, electronica, grunge, and hip-hop. Childhood friends Chris and Conner conceptualized Spooky Diamonds, and enlisted the skills of Conner’s brother, Casey, to complete the idea. They released their newest EP A New Dawn last month on Friday, the 13th, and I recently spoke with Casey, the producer of Spooky Diamonds, about their roots, their creative process, and their plans for 2021.
It’s clear how you and Conner know each other. How did you meet Chris, and what led to forming Spooky Diamonds?
Chris had been a friend of Conner’s since middle school. They bonded over skateboarding, Super Smash Bros, and heavy music. I officially met Chris at a party in our hometown years later. When Conner and I were touring with our last band, Powell, Chris would come on the road with us and freestyle/write during rehearsals. When Powell started to fade out, Chris and Conner began writing music together on Conner’s loop pedal and came to me to produce their project “Skeletons in the Flesh.” While Conner was on tour with Bendigo Fletcher, Chris came to me to produce his solo record. All the music we started writing turned into “A New Dawn.” When Conner returned, he adjusted and added bass lines. We continued writing music together, and the chemistry there sort of made the decision for us. Spooky Diamonds was back together, now including me as an official member.
You have a lush recorded sound for a trio. As a producer, what is your approach for building on Chris’ writing/singing and Conner’s bass lines?
I approach production and arranging by beginning with refining the vocals. When Chris writes melodies, I immediately start creating chord voicings on guitar or synth that compliment his ideas. Conner’s process is similar, but on the opposite end of the spectrum. With bass starting as the foundation leading up to the tonality and chord voicings, the result Conner and I reach together works as two sides of the same coin, marrying the bass and Chris’ lush vocals. After we have a feel for where the tune is heading, Conner and I collaborate on the groove. We are all hyper-creative and write in a quick, sporadic way. The hardest part is deciding which ideas make the cut, keeping creative freedom as the priority. My main focus is trying to set an eerie, psychedelic ambience behind these ideas, while striving to ensure it’s recorded well, and the mix is solid.
The concept of the EP seems to be heavily influenced by Japanese samurai culture. What led to that theme?
“I spent a lot of time with my grandmother growing up, and I was always intrigued and inspired by the elements of her Japanese heritage that were shared with me. From a young age, I was constantly watching old Toshiro Mifune movies and anime, and The Art of the Sword was highly influential. With this project came a lot of self-discovery. Not only in life’s lessons, but in the way I create music and develop my sound. I try to model my technical practice of this music after the way a samurai would carefully spend time with their sword. Writing “A New Dawn” gave me an outlet to use my voice to share this craft, while also sharing the culture that is dear to my heart.” – Answer from Chris Ghoul, writer/vocalist.
What’s on the horizon for Spooky Diamonds?
Our next release will be a self-titled EP. We’re really excited, because this release contains all of our heavy hitters. It will definitely be more pop/indie influenced and is a great representation of our versatility as a group. “The Spooky Diamonds EP” is in the works for mid-2021, but make sure you keep bumping “A New Dawn” until then!
Check out A New Dawn EP here!