Ep. 115: Song “Feeling Like A Ghost” (Influenced by The Shins)

In this episode, I break apart a song called, “Feeling Like A Ghost.” This comes from my album Starting Over released back in August of 2022.

This song is influenced by the band, The Shins, particularly their song “Pink Bullets.”

I like the imagery of the lyrics, along with the sparse, haunting production. So I tried to keep some of those things in mind when I recorded my song.

So the first thing I recorded was the acoustic guitar. The strumming pattern is kind of similar to the Shins, especially the way the guitar has a melodic feel to it.

I started thinking about what kind of different layers I could add to the song to fill things out more. The first thing that came was the piano part, which plays simple whole note chords during the singing and takes on a melody line during the interlude and outro.

I added a churchy sounding organ to give it a little more of the haunting atmosphere.

Next I added a shaker. It’s pretty soft in the background but just helps keep a little bit of momentum going with the song.

It needed little more punch so I came up with this idea where in between phrases, I take a recording of a cymbal and piano, and reverse it, followed by an echoey kick drum hit. Here’s what it sounds like.  

I like the direction this was going but I still felt like the song dragged on a little. So, for the second half of the song, I decided to have more instruments come in and shift the vibe a little.

First there’s the drums. I programmed the beat using samples from the Circles Drum Library. I picked a really buzzy sounding snare drum because it thought it fit the vibe I was going for pretty well.

Next I layered on a few extra piano parts. One of them is a steady quarter note played in octaves to help drive the momentum to the end.

I also layered on this tinkly, echoey piano part to give in a haunting feel.

During the recording this song, I was watching Stranger Things and I heard their opening title sequence, which has some really interesting synths parts that pay homage to horror movies from the 1980s.

So I started playing around with some similar sounds and came up with this retro synth line. 

Next I added this really ghostly sounding synth part to really drive home the haunting atmosphere.

For the vocals, I added a slap-back reverb effect. During the chorus, I doubled up the melody and added a subtle harmony part.

Lyrically, this song is about fearing death. Watching people around me pass away has left me with this sense that life is fragile and that I or anyone I love could be gone anyday. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that we’re all going to die some day. It can be really depressing to think about but it’s also made me want to make the time I have in life count, in terms of keeping my priorities straight.

And with that, here’s the complete song. I hope you like it.

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