Anonymous vulnerability, artist-to-fan intimacy and introspective lyricism infuse the dreamy soundscape of Darkroom, the latest album from French-Canadian outfit, Ghostly Kisses. It is a captivating record that takes the listeners as its direct muse. Experiences of heartbreak, grief and pain are heard and then transformed, melodised between electro-pop inspired production that is by turns melancholic, haunting and danceable. As individual stories from young people across the world merge into a universal sound, the result is something ephemeral yet comfortingly human.
Ghostly Kisses is the collaboration between Québecois musicians Margaux Sauvé and Louis-Étienne Santais. Darkroom follows their 2022 debut album, Heaven, Wait, which garnered them a global fanbase and extensive critical acclaim. Yet despite chart-topping success and global tours, they maintain a deeply earnest and intimate relationship with their fans.
Margaux describes the inspiration for Darkroom as rising from a desire to create a safe space for their listeners to share in the pain invoked by their music, and create a multidimensional conversation with the capacity to unite and comfort their global fanbase through this shared vulnerability. The album released today, on 17th May 2024, via the London-based independent label Akira Records. In the midst of their incredible 22-date UK/EU tour, we got the chance to chat to Margaux and Louis about their connection with their fans, with each other and with their music, proving we just might all be “interconnected somehow".
Firstly, congratulations on the new album! Could you begin by introducing yourselves and the kind of music you make to those that dont know?
Margaux: We are Margaux and Louis, members of Ghostly Kisses. We create a blend of ethereal indie pop with electronic elements, weaving together dreamy melodies, emotive vocals, and atmospheric soundscapes. Our music is often characterised by its introspective lyrics and haunting arrangements, aiming to evoke a sense of intimacy and introspection in our listeners.
How did the two of you meet? What is one thing about the other that you admire most in each other, musically?
Louis: We met through mutual friends at a music event a few years ago in Québec City, our hometown in Canada. We quickly discovered that we had a lot in common and an ability to complement each other's strengths and bring out the best in each other creatively. We both share a passion for experimenting with different sounds and pushing the boundaries of our music, which keeps our creative partnership dynamic and inspiring.
Do you find you have similar musical tastes? How do your tastes combine in the kind of music you make together?
Margaux: We share quite similar musical tastes. Interestingly, the first time we ever rehearsed together, Louis started playing my favourite song out of the blue (Running By The Sea by Röyksopp and Susanne Sundfør) without realising it was one of my favourites. As we delved deeper into our music preferences, we realised that we had a lot of common inspirations. This shared musical affinity has made our collaboration seamless, as we almost intuitively understand each other's creative visions. It's a connection that extends beyond words and greatly influences our musical direction.
Talk us through the production of this album – what did a typical working day look like?
Margaux: To start the creation of Darkroom, we began by delving into the messages and testimonials accumulated over the past year in our Box of Secrets. Concurrently, I compiled a list of prevalent themes extracted from these narratives. Meanwhile, Louis and I embarked on crafting new compositions, both collaboratively and individually. We find it beneficial to alternate between working in separate spaces to allow our creativity unrestricted flow. We then reconvene to finalise a song once we feel we're nearing a breakthrough. We dedicated special attention to crafting original and catchy melodies for Darkroom. After completing the song writing process, we entrusted the tracks to Oli Bayston for additional production.
Louis: I feel like I’ve really pushed a little bit harder to further our sound on Darkroom. I viscerally felt like we had to evolve out of our comfort zone, both in terms of composition and production. The experience of touring a lot since our last album brought to my attention the need to create more contrast in the music, as well as to elevate the energy levels a notch.
Could you tell us a bit about the Box of Secrets? Where did this idea come from and were you surprised by the vulnerability of peoples responses?
Margaux: The Box of Secrets framework behind this album stemmed from our desire to create a space for our fans to share their stories, experiences, and emotions anonymously, and to get to know them a little bit better. We have a lot of fans from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and I realised that I didn’t know much about growing up in these countries and I felt ignorant about their realities. We were deeply moved by the vulnerability and honesty of people's responses, as they shared their innermost thoughts and feelings with us. It was a humbling experience to see how our music resonated with others on such a personal level, and it played a significant role in shaping the themes and direction of the album.
Were there any points that proved hurdles or creative blocks throughout the production? How did you overcome them? 
Louis: The main challenge we faced in creating Darkroom was balancing the authenticity of our fans' testimonials with a broader thematic vision that could touch a lot of people. Additionally, we aimed to imbue the album with compelling melodies that underscored our themes. However, pinpointing the perfect melody proved to be quite a daunting task! We spent a lot of time together finalising melodies and hooks.
I read your band name is taken from a William Faulkner poem, Une Ballade des Dames Perdues, since it matched the ethereal quality of Margauxs voice. Do you often take inspiration for your music from other artforms, like literature or film?
Margaux: I frequently draw inspiration from visual arts. I have a thing for visualising colours and imagery within music, and conversely, I find that visual stimuli often inspire musical ideas.
What kind of relationship would you like to have with your fans? Do you feel close to the listener when you are in the process of making an album, or is this something that comes after?
Margaux: We want our fans to feel valued and heard, and we strive to create music that resonates with them on a profound level. With Darkroom, our intention was to initiate a dialogue encompassing ourselves, our music, our fans, and their stories. When we're writing new music, our fans are always on our minds, but the moment I feel the closest connection is when we perform live for them.
Louis: I think that so far, we’ve had a very precious relationship of proximity with our fans. For instance, we’ve had meet and greets that would last longer than our actual set in certain regions of the world. As the project becomes bigger, it becomes a bit of an impossibility to meet with everyone all the time, but we still strive to keep the relationship as personal as possible. In terms of making an album, for me, there was a lot of work of projection about how a crowd would react to musical elements in a live context. Also, in terms of lyrics, in the context of the Box of Secrets, I think we’ve felt a responsibility to widen our perspective a lot and write in broader terms, at times in a more abstract manner, and at times in a very deliberately literal manner.
Hearing so many vulnerable stories, how did this impact you personally? Did it make you reflect on anything in your own life?
Margaux: Reading messages from the Box of Secrets has illuminated the universal nature of human experience. Regardless of our backgrounds, locations, or ages, there’s a bit of commonality and recurrence in many aspects of everyone’s life. It's as if we're all interconnected somehow. This realisation has introduced in me a sense of hope and has allowed me to perceive the world in a more beautiful light. It underscores the idea that differences in gender, age, or religion could fade away if we could recognise our shared humanity.
I really liked Ocean on this album, and it feels like one of the more up-beat and danceable ones. Could you talk to us a bit about this song?
Margaux: Within the Box of Secrets, there were a lot of narratives depicting stories of friendship where one individual took advantage of the other. Ocean was crafted as a tribute to freedom and independence, serving as a source of empowerment for our fans, affirming their resilience and ability to navigate such challenges.
The album has been described as electro-pop, do you find these two genres accurately describe your music? What characteristics from each are you particularly drawn to?
Louis: Our music can be categorised as electro-pop, but we believe it encompasses a broader spectrum of influences and sounds. While elements of electronic and pop are certainly present, we're also drawn to ambient, indie, and dream pop influences. What resonates with us most is the ability to blend catchy melodies into a unique Ghostly Kisses sound.
You have just embarked on an incredible 22 dates EU/UK album tour. What are you most excited about for this tour? Any song you particularly cant wait to play?
Louis: Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, and London were probably among our best shows ever. We're mainly excited to introduce our new show, meticulously synchronised with lights, staging, and decor. It promises to immerse the audience completely in the ethereal world of Ghostly Kisses, delivering an unforgettable and lasting experience. Crimson and Keep It Real are songs that I was particularly excited to play live as they have a quite high level of energy.
How do you want to make the audience feel at your shows? What kind of mood or vibe are you trying to craft?
Margaux: Our main goal when performing is to create an intimate, dreamy atmosphere, transporting our audience to a world of ethereal beauty and emotional depth. We aim to craft a captivating, introspective mood that invites listeners to connect with the emotions and stories in our songs. Ultimately, we want our live shows to leave a lasting impression, inspiring and uplifting our audience.
Finally, what city are you most excited to play on tour?
Margaux: We're excited to play in so many incredible cities on tour, it's hard to choose just one. However, if we had to pick, we're particularly looking forward to playing in Cairo. Every time we play there, it feels unique—the crowd's energy is unparalleled, creating an experience unlike any other. However, we're genuinely looking forward to bringing our music to every city on our tour and sharing the experience with our fans worldwide.