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Holy Ship - Mind safari (DC#3)

After starting off his career in shoegaze band Blackstrap, Stockholm’s Jonatan Westh has now embarked on a new solo project, Holy Ship. The project blends influences from throughout Westh’s career, and updates them into a modern incarnation of his sound, neo psychedelia, industrial influences and soaring acid-rock. Now a couple of singles into his new project, and having already picked up support from the likes of KEXP, he’s getting ready to release another, ‘Mind Safari’, on Diamond Club Sweden.

‘Mind Safari’ is a song that sums up the ambition of the Holy Ship project. At four minutes, it’s not the longest song in the world, but it still feels like a grand journey, a trip though Holy Ship’s sprawling, cosmic interpretation of neo psychedelia and alt-rock. Westh says of the song: “I was listening a lot to old bossa nova like Antônio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto, and was inspired by the textures in that genre. That inspired me to write the chords of ‘Mind Safari’. I worked hard to find the right guitar sound, and got so frustrated that I bought a new amp. With that amp, I nailed the sound right away”.

Though submerged in a vortex of sound, the lyrics are an important part of Holy Ship’s artistic soul, and ‘Mind Safari’ is no exception. “’Mind Safari’ is to be able to move on from stuff that only steals your energy without giving it back” says Westh. “Sometimes people turns out to be someone else than you got to know in the first place”.

Holy Ship started at a pivotal point in Westh’s life, as Blackstrap came to an end and he began his life as a father: “I went from spending all my time in the studio and on the road with my previous bands to fatherhood and all the responsibility that brings. I had a break from making music. I knew all the time that it was just a temporary break while I figured out how I could keep on doing music and still take care of the rest of my life. This was actually a kind of hard period for me and I felt like I lost track and had a hard time finding my place in this new situation, since I had spent all my social life in the studio/rehearsal. I decided to get professional help from a therapist, and one of the first tasks she gave me was to write a new tune in the time between our next meeting. That was the starting point of Holy Ship and the first song I wrote was [earlier single] ‘Night Aquatic’. When looking back now, I think that the lyrics really nail my feelings around that time: ‘I feel that our reality is unreal to me’ . I left the city of Stockholm and bought a house a bit outside where I set up a home studio in the basement. I did all the recordings for the EP there and the only one apart from me playing on the EP is David Götestam, who I have played with since early teens, on the drums, and my wife on some backup vocals. Holy Ship became my therapy and now I know that I can’t stop making music again, cause that will make me unhappy”.

Musically, Holy Ship is a product of Westh’s obsession with detail and creative restlessness: “I am obsessed with sounds and love to use unconventional ways of exploring soundscapes. I also want to create music in a DIY manner and do the best I can with the limitations a home studio brings. I am really tired of making music where you have to use certain gear and pro studios to make your songs good. I like to visualise and I think my music sounds like a soundtrack for a space movie. Like an alternative soundtrack to A Space Odyssey”.