Ghost Beach’s Josh Ocean and Eric “Doc” Mendelsohn are all about making dance music that revisits the 1980s. The electro-pop duo of 28-year-olds, which headline the free music portion of the Harvey Milk Festival in downtown Sarasota on Saturday, calls their brand of synthesizer-propelled, uplifting sonics “tropical grit pop.” I talked to Ocean earlier this month while he and Mendelsohn were touring Europe.
Q: How do the crowds differ from say, Brooklyn to London?
A: We happen to be really lucky with our fans back in New York. We have some great dance party shows but there’s also definitely a really strong vibe over here. People connect with different things about our music here (in Europe).
Q: Do the English audiences respond as well to the beach vibe as they do in the states?
A: Traditionally there has been a lot of that music: The Police or The Smiths have a very summery feeling to their music, or even Bombay Bicycle Club. Those bands have an upbeat, summery shine to them and maybe it is a response to how it’s gray and raining a lot. They seek to get that energy from something else.
Q: Following Ghost Beach’s self-titled debut EP and follow-up EP “Modern Tongues,” you and Eric recently released Ghost Beach’s LP debut “Blonde” through Nettwerk Music Group. How does it feel to have your first album out there?
A: A lot of those songs were singles we released on our website so it was a really cool process to put them all together and have a proper album release. They just pressed it on vinyl. Having an album out on vinyl is definitely very cool. It’s a nice way to keep hold of the songs versus a folder of MP3s on my computer.
Q: Was it a tough process putting “Blonde” together?
A: Not that difficult. We just write so much that the hardest part for us was not including more new songs and just releasing the old ones for what is basically a licensing deal with Nettwerk. We’re already working on a second album.
Q: “Tropical grit-pop” is a great term, but what does it mean?
A: We can’t escape that we write pop music and the tropical element is an escape from our gritty reality, our dirty rehearsal space in Brooklyn.
Q: Last year, French Horn Rebellion headlined the Harvey Milk Festival here in Sarasota. Let’s see, you’re both duos playing 1980s-influenced synth pop and you’re both from Brooklyn. Do you know those guys?
A: We actually have a song we wrote with those guys.
Q: Did they have anything to do with you coming to Sarasota?
A: No, it’s a coincidence. But they said they had a great time.
Q: Last question. Is Josh Ocean your real name?
A: (Pause.) That’s my real middle name. My parents were hippies and my real first and middle name is Josh Ocean.
Q: But you don’t want to reveal your real last name?
A (Laughs.) Right.