Sarah Zimmer, affectionately known as scapeghosts, is a 25-year old multitalented singer, songwriter, and producer. Hailing from the Philadelphia area, scapeghosts composes dreamy indie tracks that draw from various genres ranging from Lo-fi, Classical, and Pop Punk melodies.
With an extensive background in performing and teaching both theatre and opera, scapeghosts incorporates profound elements of storytelling into her work. Being the creative mastermind she is, scapeghosts holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College and seeks to continue her advocacy and research work into sexual violence and abuse in the performing arts in addition to growing as an artist.
Recruiting none other than Tim Nieuwenhuis for the production of “blue light,” scapeghosts submerges us in the warm acoustic embrace of the minimalistic instrumentation that acts as a robust supporting structure as it progresses forth. The soft and delicate resonance of scapeghosts vocalization allows you to create a space in your head for the auditory reverberations that cut through this record like a knife. Creating abstract expressions around a topic so very apparent in society today, scapeghosts addresses social media and the internet as she compares the fading relationship with a loved one to the one she holds with the blue light that the internet radiates.
The layers of heavenly vocals grow upon the progression of “blue light,” as we are introduced to enticing and new components leading to the triumphant finale of this composition. As the music dances in a slow tempo upon our heads, we are forced to reflect and seek deep within ourselves as we take in the message of this witty structured song. This collaborative effort shines as bright as the blue light the internet emits, and we do not need a filter for everything that scapeghosts has to offer as she grows as an artist and creative in the music industry.
Congratulations on the release of “blue light.” We love the witty metaphor that you use as the theme for your song. Could you please go into detail about what inspired the theme for “blue light?"
I think most people can relate that a lot of their lives have become live via the internet due to *gestures at entire world* So, there’s of course, the literal aspect that I’ve just been staring at screens for hours on end. On the other hand, I’ve been struggling with mental health and a breakup and I’ve quite literally felt incredibly down and found myself seeking validation or happiness from people on the internet, friends, or strangers. What I see myself posting, or see people I know posting, is often not an accurate depiction of how they are feeling. So it’s like, there’s this thing (the internet) that both enables positive feelings and support when real life isn’t great, but it’s also completely fake and kind of depressing when you take a step back and realize that sometimes those virtual relationships are outlets when real-life relationships are failing, and I’ve had to reconcile that a lot lately because we navigate the digital space much differently these days.
How did the collaboration between you and Tim Nieuwenhuis come to be? What was it like working together?
Tim and I went to college together from 2013-2017. He did theatre with me and we even briefly played in a sea-shanty-Esque band together. I also have a lot of good memories of us screaming along to Front Bottoms songs together. But he’s also almost finished with his Ph.D. program in human genetics so he’s a rad dude. We haven’t lived in the same place since college, but once I started recording I knew I had to get Tim’s banjo and voice on a song. Conveniently, we both have Ableton so it was simple to remotely track everything from separate locations. He came up with the banjo part and harmonies fully after I texted him “I wrote a really angsty song will you play on it.” Whatever he did with the vocals especially ended up being really haunting, and it was nice to have two vocals thematically since it’s a song about two people. He’s definitely more music theory-based than I am so I send him stuff without a metronome to keep time or something is written in a really wonky tuning and I can’t explain it to him, so I’ve certainly been trying to be more purposeful in my writing and recording processes when collaborating with others.
Could you please take us into what the recording session looked like when creating “blue light?"
I basically woke up one day in March, after it became pretty clear that working in theater or opera (what I was doing before) was not going to be artistically available or fulfilling for a while. I’ve written and sang my entire life, but I just started learning production those few months ago. l now have a solid home studio setup, but as you can probably hear I’m still working out the kinks being a newbie producer. This song was written on my acoustic and I recorded it in dry and let it serve as sort of a bass line and guitar part at the same time. I love multitracked vocals so I did that a bit as well. This was all me alone in my room probably around 3 in the morning. I got Tim’s parts and my favorite part of this song is how haunting his harmonies ended up sounding with pretty large amounts of reverb and delay popped on top. I normally don’t think about that sort of stuff when I’m writing or even tracking the instruments, just go with my gut based on where the raw song takes me.
What would you like your listeners to take away from this specific record?
This song is off of my second self-released EP “what a fine little ending.” My first EP has released at the end of August and it’s a girl very much wavering between trusting herself and giving in to others' views and assertions. This one, as per the title, is a definitive closing out of that uncertainty while still recognizing that every experience, pain, loss, love, and so forth lingers around us (to quote Haunting of Hill House “like confetti”) It’s like, I’m still not who I want to be, I’m not ok, a lot, but I feel like in this EP I call myself on my bullshit and try to celebrate myself and distance myself from thinking I’m a totally useless person, which I think is a common feeling for 25. It’s also probably more of a break-up EP than I care to admit, but you find yourself amongst experiences like these. Sometimes you realize you’ve devalued yourself so much that’s the level of the person you attract, then one day you wake up and your just left with those people, and finding your way out of that is tough. Also, PSA, make music and release it if that’s what you want. If I spent time holding myself back because I don’t have the access to record in a studio, or I’m not as good at production as I’d like to be yet, I wouldn’t be writing this. So take that away from this too.
What has been keeping you inspired throughout 2020?
Incredible music released by women, non-binary folx, and artists of color over the past few months and it’s such an inspiration. So much of music is being absolutely dominated by these voices like Phoebe Bridgers or Clairo and it’s kickass. On a more personal level, my friends and family have shown me such kindness and support as I’ve started putting out music. Moving back to the Philadelphia area where I grew up has brought me a well of memories and new/old friends to make music with. Aside from music, I’m applying to a Ph.D. program with an interest in research sexual and domestic violence within the music industry. I also tutor kids. I’m a planner, and the state of the world shattered basically all of my structures and plans, so finding things that I care deeply about to re-anchor myself to where I can do some good in the world has been pretty important to me and allow me the headspace to keep creating.