Spookyghost is the name given to Gerry Leonards solo recordings and compositions. The name derives from the nickname given by Donal Coghlan (the other half of the duo Hinterland) regarding the ambient nature of Leonard's guitar playing.
Leonard grew up in Dublin, Ireland. It rained a lot then. He left school and worked in a recording studio recording and mixing a lot of bands from the local Dublin scene. Highlights were recording a demo with Sinead O'Connor when she was 16 and giving the Edge a ride home in his tiny rusty Morris Minor Car.
He then started studying classical guitar in order to explore the harmonic possibilities of the instrument and spent 5 years learning and teaching. It was still raining a lot so he left Ireland to live in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he played guitar on the streets and met Donal Coghlan. Donal and Gerry formed Hinterland in 1989 and were signed to Island records on the strength of a 12 song demo recorded in their own 8 track cassette studio.
Hinterland recorded one album "Kissing the Roof of Heaven" and toured in Ireland, Scotland and England, Germany, Switzerland, and showcased in New York. This finally led Leonard to move to New York to work as a freelance guitar layer/writer/producer. Over the last few years the rain has eased off and he considers himself very lucky to have worked with such artists as David Bowie, Duncan Sheik, Suzanne Vega, Laurie Anderson, Johnatha Brooke, Cyndi Lauper, Donna Lewis, Sophie B Hawkins, and Chris Botti.
The Spookyghost record was started in '96 in a tiny apartment in the Lower East Side of New York. The "Studio" (a Mackie 1202 and an Adat) was right beside the bath tub which was right beside the cooker which was right beside the phone. The possibilities seemed endless.
It has now almost completely stopped raining and gigs were booked in the hippest east village coffee house Sin E. Shortly afterwards the club closed down. Operations were moved to Brooklyn and with the help of friends the Spooky record was finished in March 98. Through the support of artists such as Duncan Sheik the Spooky Ghost has been touring the United States and performs regularly in NYC with a trio (Jay Bellerose / Drums and Paul Bryan / Bass). Spooky has also guested at Mike Rivards "Club d'Elf" in Boston. More live shows in NYC and Boston are coming up.
When performing live Leonard uses far too much equipment for his own good but says that he is comforted by all the flashing lights. Through a combination of textures sampled from the recordings and a variety of loops created and triggered live (loop = a musical phrase digitally recorded and set to repeat infinitely) a backdrop of sound is created and improvised over. The idea used in Celtic and Indian music of the drone is evident here. As opposed to the music coming out of silence now the music seems to rise out of the drone which in itself contains all the music.
Another concept is the idea of using texture in the same way one might paint, and so the space is the canvas; the textures become the colors; and the melodies and motifs become the images. This is often the starting point for the architecture of the spooky compositions. The recordings then come from improvisations captured and threaded together into longer form compositions.
Spooky Ghost is currently involved in new ventures. Along with touring and promoting Duncan Sheiks new "Daylight" record, He has just finished touring with David Bowie and Suzanne Vega. Also a new project called Bowsie is in the pipe line. This is a collaboration between Leonard and Susan McKeown, a Irish singer/songwriter living in NYC. Susan is known also for her extensive knowledge of Irish traditional music, and together they hope to produce an album of traditional Irish songs done in a Spooky setting. An initial 3 song CD is getting great response and was played recently on the Dave Fanning radio show in Ireland.
Leonard is also producing a cd with new singer/songwriter Pamela Sue Mann. So far so good.
P.S. it still rains from time to time both in Ireland where it's supposed to, and in New York where you have to pay for it.