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Ghost Beach brings 'tropical grit pop' to Harvey Milk Festival: interview

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Ghost Beach photo by Shervin Lainez

Ghost Beach is Josh Ocean (right) and Eric “Doc” Mendelsohn. COURTESY PHOTO / SHERVIN LAINEZ

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.

Harvey Milk Festival: Celebrating diversity with a three-day party

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.



Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013
WADE TATANGELOis the editor of TICKET + and a contributor at TicketSarasota.com. He has been an entertainment editor, reporter, columnist and reviewer for more than a decade at publications nationwide. He is a Hershey, Pa., native who grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune in 2013 and writes the weekly Bar Tab column. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: May 22, 2014
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