Meet Caught A Ghost, a funk-fueled, LA-based Indie Soul band. It's debut album "Human Nature" is the perfect spring-into-summer soundtrack--upbeat, breezy and shiny as hell. The album's catchy, sing-a-long choruses are juxtaposed with somewhat cynical lyrics, as evidenced by the title track. Caught A Ghost played at the A&R Music Bar last fall. Since then, female vocalist Tessa Thompson has left the band to star in several films, including the Oscar-nominated movie Creed. I had a chance to chat with the man behind the band, producer, songwriter and lead vocalist, Jesse Nolan. He explained the origins of the album's funky sound.
"I wanted to do something that reflected both the fact that I grew up listening to Tupac, Dr. Dre and The Pharcyde," Nolan said. "But also bring back that retro soul vibe. I feel like it works because people love those things. I don't care who you are, when you hear "Passin' Me By" by The Pharcyde for the first time, you're like 'This is... what is this?!' You know? And that's precedent for what I'm doing as a producer. Those rappers you like were all listening to soul records and sampling them. Q-Tip was listening to drum breaks, chopping them up, sampling them and rapping over them. I feel like people are ready for that to be part of the contemporary soundscape. Rather than being a novelty, like a 'retro throwback thing,' it's just good, you know?"
Nolan said his dad turned him onto the blues at an early age.
"I've been a music fan all my life," Nolan said. "My dad put me onto a lot of soul music and blues as a young man. I remember my first record was "Nevermind" by Nirvana. I was really into the grunge thing as a teenager, but Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix' "Blues" album really hit me at a very young age. I was a guitar player. I wanted to play the blues, so that's where it started. I played jazz in high school, and got into that, but I decided to leave that to people better suited to it. I got really obsessed with songwriting. I fixated on Bowie, the Beatles and The Stones for a while. And then I always liked soul music, Otis Redding, Sammy and Aretha, always resonated with me."
Nolan is currently working on the follow-up to "Human Nature." If you get the chance to see this band on its next tour, don't pass it up. Caught A Ghost had Columbus fans groovin' hard, something Nolan said he looks forward to at every show.
"It's always 50% audience," Nolan said. "You can figure out ways to connect with people. Everyone is just looking for permission to have an amazing experience, so if you can, you set them free, allow them to dance, or connect with the music on whatever level. It's music to raise the spirits. Caught a Ghost, it's about being possessed by the music. It's about how music can fill you up."