Dancing With Ghosts is an electronic rock band based out of Jacksonville, Florida. The band is comprised of Josh Cannon (vocals/guitar) and Stephanie Conner (vocals/keyboard). The duo bases a lot of their lyrics around various struggles with mental illness and surrounds them in the dark synths that they are known for using. They are a “do it yourself” band that is theatrical and entertaining. Dancing With Ghosts is bringing an exciting sound to the music world, and you are not going to want to miss out on it. Their new LP ‘Hex’ was just released on March 22nd.
Q: What was the inspiration behind the name Dancing With Ghosts, and how did the band develop into what it is today?
A: The name “Dancing with Ghosts” came from the story of a person who survived cancer. I did not know this person but the anecdote was too good not to use. As this person was going through his cancer treatments, he noticed all of his friends began to abandon him. When he finally overcame his cancer diagnosis he was asked if would be contacting his old friends to reconnect to which he responded “No, that would be like dancing with ghosts”. The band developed into what it is today through years of trial and error. I got tired of band members always quitting on me so I decided to do everything myself. When Stephanie (singer, keyboardist) came along I realized that it would be wise to place my trust in her. She has greatly enhanced this band with her strengths that compliment my weaknesses and vice versa. It just took time, experimentation and bravery.
Q: What was the writing process like for your new LP ‘Hex’? How did it compare to your past writing?
A: The writing process for Hex was unique in the sense that it is a culmination of songs from our first two LP’s with some new material and also some re-imagining of older songs. My first album came out before Stephanie joined the band, so her vocals were not represented on those older songs even though she does a lot with them live. Also, it came down to being much easier to stand behind one singular album of our best material rather than have two separate albums with the strongest songs scattered all over the place. This album truly has our best material on it and we can’t wait to share this with the world.
Q: Is there any song on ‘Hex’ that speaks to you the most or you enjoy playing the most? If so, why?
Josh: For me lyrically, the song Escape My Head speaks to me the most. I wrote those lyrics almost as a “S.O.S. HELP ME” anthem. There are so many times I get trapped in my own toxic way of thinking and it really brings me down. Those lyrics come from a very real place. I wish I could escape my head sometimes. As far as playing goes, I’m really having fun playing our newest song “The Narcissist”.
Stephanie: My favorite one to play live is The Nightmare Inside You because I really feel it helps us set the stage for the show you’re about to see. It allows our characters a little time to interact and breathe. This is also a favorite of mine because it is the first song we co-wrote together so it holds a special place for me. This song allowed us to explore the new song-writing territory.
Q: What are some of your favorite lyrics on the album, and why?
Stephanie: I really like some of the lines in Circles given the concept of the song with ‘’every day is exactly the same’’. Circles delves into the way my anxiety manifests in my head, repeating my problems on a seemingly infinite loop. This was basically an examination of my anxiety process under a microscope. It’s a very personal song to me and I feel like the lyrics are very relatable to people.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about your “do it yourself” approach to the band?
A: So the term DIY is thrown around a lot these days it seems. What DIY means to us is pretty much doing all the things a label might do for you whether that’s recording an album, booking a tour or producing a music video. Because I was such a nerd growing up I am able to do all those things in house without the assistance of any outsiders. I learned music production and film techniques in my spare time and honed them. This is kind of protection for me so I can not only have one hundred percent control but also not have to rely on other people. Not to mention it saves us a lot of money being able to do it ourselves.
Q: I have noticed multiple photos on social media of your faces painted. Is there a particular story behind the face paint?
A: When we play live, we are representing characters if you will. These characters have come from the various music videos that we have put out. Our live show is like a multimedia theatrical performance complete with costume changes and timed visual cues. Both Stephanie and I have an affinity for theatrics and with this band, we are finally able to express ourselves in that way.
Q: Do you have any interesting stories that you can share about a show you recently played or attended?
A: We were at our merch booth after a show a few months back and this older man approached us and expressed his interested in purchasing a shirt. He liked our show and was excited about the band apparently. When I told him how much the shirt would cost he said he would have to go outside and get some money. The man came back and casually placed in my hand a circular gummy-like thing and a weed grinder. Inside the gummy-like thing was a little nugget of weed. When I told him no thanks, he then offered to pay us with two gold doubloons in which we declined. He told us the doubloons were a great investment opportunity because the value would only increase to which I responded “that’s great and all but we really need to make back this money we spent on merch in US dollars”. The guy finally paid us but the encounter definitely stuck with us.
Q: Speaking of shows, how would you describe your live set? Do you have any shows coming up?
A: When we first walk into a venue dressed in full show gear we immediately start grabbing attention. By the time we finally take the stage and that first image flashes on the monitors everyone in the building is fully engaged. Nobody ever knows what to expect when they first see us and that is something we really get off on. We stand out like a sore thumb for people who like sore thumbs. Our next show will be March 23rd at the Blue Note in Tampa, Florida and April 21st at 1904 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Q: What do you hope listeners gain from your music, whether they are a fan or only hear you play once at a show?
A: For the long term listener, I hope they know that someone out there is suffering just like they are and that they are not alone. I also hope that the same person likes good hooks and dirty synthesizers. For the person who will only ever see us play once, I hope they walk away from that venue feeling that same sense of magic that I felt when I first saw a show that I thought couldn’t be done.
Q: Is there anything else going on with Dancing With Ghosts that you are able to share at this time?
A: We are currently working on our fifth music video for our new single “Eyes Wide Open”. Though the song itself is very catchy and melodic, the subject matter is dark and complex. The music video will reflect this theme as well and we are very excited to share it with all of you. You can keep up with our music videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/DancingWithGhosts.