Like many Control Records artists, Axel Otero, the man behind Lay Your Ghost, laid his foundations in the punk and hardcore scenes. However, when he realized he just “wasn’t that angry anymore,” his next logical step was found in the peripheral artists he and his friends listened to. “The love that I have for synthpop and gothic music comes from my punk friends,” he explains. “They were the ones who were more into Christian Death and Sisters Of Mercy. I fell in love with that, and it all came from there.”
From his appreciation of the darker, less angry side of music and the macabre influences to which he is drawn, Otero manifested Lay Your Ghost circa 2014. Now, rather than giving a 1-2-Fuck-You, he growls over synths in a voice reminiscent of David Gahan’s with the rasp of Andrew Eldritch and channels the more brooding side of Batcave. While he cites darkwave and synth-lead musical influences, both from the ’80s and from the modern European scene, what primarily inspires Otero is the nonmusical art he surrounds himself with, from horror films to fine art and photography.
“I’m drawn to stuff that leans toward the darker side. It could be anything, but mainly if something has the aesthetic of looking cool and dark or kind of creepy or whatever, that can inspire me,” he says, noting that he tends to focus more on the musical side of things than on the lyrical when writing. “For the new album, I was definitely trying to bring out themes that are influenced by horror. I was watching a lot of John Carpenter movies. There’s some influence of his soundtracks and themes in this new album, for sure.”
Perhaps you have never felt compelled to dance by the Halloween (movie) main title, but Otero rises to the challenge of making a similar juxtaposing magic happen on his EP Ritual. With its thick and engulfing rhythms and sparingly placed industrial noise, the EP conjures images of silhouettes swaying by candlelight behind translucent veils, hips twisting and waists bending in time, twirling to the steps of the synth. It’s ritual music, indeed. Summoning music. It’s “come hither” music, which will be released on September 1, 2017.
Aside from his functioning as the ominous conductor of Lay Your Ghost, Otero also plays a crucial role as chief engineer for Control records—lending his influence to the William Control’s Billboard chart-topping Revelations EPs and to the Neuromantic Boys’ impending debut.
Recently, Lay Your Ghost chatted with Hardrock Haven about the creation of Ritual. In the audio interview, he and journalist Anabel DFlux explore his creative process, influences a...