By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
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Nick Millhiser, half of the New York-based duo Holy Ghost!, once dreamt of creating a band that would both earn him a successful career in music and allow him to make a good living. And, for the most part, his dream has come true, thanks to the success of Holy Ghost!'s 2008 breakout single, "Hold On."
His duo's dance-friendly, synth-heavy, early-Depeche-Mode-meets-early-New-Order sound immediately made a splash in the indie music community and thrust Millhiser and his creative partner Alex Frankel into the spotlight. All of a sudden, they became the go-to duo for not only remixes, but as DJs as well. The two soon began remixing artists ranging from indie darlings Phoenix to their DFA mentor James Murphy's LCD Soundsystem, and DJing parties and clubs across the country and Europe.
But as the request for remixes and club dates began to pile up, the group's instant success took Millhiser by surprise—and, in turn, it put his dreams on hold.
"We never anticipated the demand for us to do [the remixes and DJ dates] that there has been," Millhiser says.
He's thankful for the stream of work and recognition, sure. But with the constant requests for remixes and DJ dates piling up, the duo had to keep pushing back their own original work. Between 2008 and 2009, Holy Ghost! had exactly two singles to their name. And only this year did the band finally come out with a four-song EP, Static On The Wire.
"When I started Holy Ghost! I always imagined it being an actual band, which is something that is just happening now after a fair amount of time," he explains.
Now, with the duo out on tour with Chromeo, Millhiser says his band is ready to finally explore its music: "We're finishing this tour with Chromeo, then we're putting the finishing touches on the album."
But even just performing in a live setting is a somewhat new thing for the band, which made its first Dallas stop back in June, opening for LCD Soundsystem at the Palladium Ballroom. Millhiser blames Holy Ghost!'s use of vintage analog equipment for that.
"The equipment that we use on the recordings is so fragile and temperamental that it wasn't practical to bring it on the road," he says. It also didn't help that they use six or seven synths to create one unique sound. "We had to start educating ourselves about everything that was available."
Now that the duo has finally started turning down remix and DJ invitations, Millhiser's focus has finally turned to making his original dream a reality.
"We grew up playing in bands," Millhiser says. "Part of what we missed was the freedom of playing live. The approach is different; we look at it as a group of people playing each part by hand and leaving room for error. Part of the fun is playing with these great musicians on stage and giving them a little more wiggle room."