Your Future Ghost’s debut single as a band, “We’ve Got Places” was aptly released in the most haunted month this October. But names can be deceiving. Lyrically, the debut track references a feeling that is the opposite of fear and lurking in the shadows associated with ghostly apparitions–one of hope, comfort, and support.
The band is composed of Billboard-charting singer-songwriter Kate Voegele and Wakey! Wakey! frontman Michael Grubbs. If Grubbs sounds familiar, that would be because the indie rock singer portrayed a fictionalized, bartending version of himself on the CW’s era-defining teen drama “One Tree Hill.”
The debut track from the band builds from a quietly emotional, piano driven intro to a grittier guitar riff heavy chorus, with Voegele’s whispery command to “keep breathing, keep breathing, keep breathing now” interjecting in between. The track references the global anxiety of a post-pandemic world, in conjunction with the meaning-of-life level revelations many learned about themselves in the process.
“One Tree Hill” is where Voegele and Grubbs were first united. Voegele portrayed a character named Mia Catalano, a singer-songwriter working on her debut album, on which Voegele was simultaneously crafting in real life. The series not only introduced a new level of complexity in teenaged characters, but ushered in a new era of gritty indie rock following the pop diva era of y2k.
Prior to their experiences as actors, both had their own unique paths to music stardom. Grubbs made a name for himself by way of a number of projects, most notably Wakey! Wakey!, in the then emerging 2010s indie music scene in Brooklyn, New York. Voegele, on the other hand, found fame in rock-tinged pop starting in the midwest, going on to perform alongside the likes of John Mayer, Counting Crows, and Willie Nelson.
Hence, in line with the lyrics of the single “We’ve Got Places,” one of the places they’ve got is Wilmington, North Carolina, where the show was shot over the course of nearly a decade. The pair were fast friends on set, due to their shared primary experience in the music industry and recent entry into the television world. The massively popular show ended in 2012, but the friendship between Voegele and Grubbs lived on.
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic began, both singer-songwriters found themselves in Austin, Texas. Amid stay-at-home orders that stopped musicians from touring, the pair found themselves getting creative to pass the time, and quickly recognized that their own unique stylings meshed better than they could have hoped for.
In a series of sessions over Zoom, they recorded a number of songs set to be released on Your Future Ghost’s debut album, beginning with “We’ve Got Places.” Voegele and Grubbs went on to perform their debut single as a band at the renowned Art Basel festival in Miami, Florida, to overwhelming praise.
Your Future Ghost sat down with What’s Trending to discuss their debut single as a group, and their upcoming debut album.
A Friendship For The Indie Rock Ages
The pair reflected further on their shared experiences on “One Tree Hill” throughout their album recording process, beginning in 2020.
“I think while we were on the show, it felt like landing on the moon on a spaceship,” said Grubbs.
“I was so overwhelmed by everything while I was there the whole time. I think Kate and I really found each other in processing the shared experience together, and that was really where our friendship got deep.”
Voegele elaborated that herself and Grubbs were two of the only people that did not live in Wilmington full time while filming the show.
“Mike and I would fly out during the week to play shows and go on tour. And then we would fly back in, and it was crazy. Airline miles were out of control at the time,” said Voegele, who called in from her solo European tour.
The Ever Present Ghosts Behind Your Future Ghost
Both Grubbs and Voegele cite a number of indie rock acts as sonic inspiration behind their project.
“The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Kills had these cool authentic rock alternative sounds that were not concerned with everything being slick, and not concerned with everything needing to be perfect and just having fun,” said Voegele.
“These groups made things that were really sonically lush.”
Grubbs recounts that the duo aimed to focus more on the emotions the music evoked rather than the genre categorization of Your Future Ghost.
“I think because Kate and I both creatively have gone through so many stages where we had so much outside input from so many other people, we started off with a different mindset this time,” said Grubbs.
“We really found this purity about halfway through that completely changed the process. It started a new chapter, and it came from a place of an attitude. It was a feeling. It wasn’t necessarily a genre; it was just a way that these sounds made us feel.”
The Upcoming Debut Album
Voegele confirmed that while the duo are still making a few final creative decisions, their first full length album is nearly complete.
“I think for both of us, the songwriting process for this album reaffirmed that music has always been my outlet. I have the free space to be the most fun, the most ridiculous, the most vulnerable version of myself all at once with this band,” said Voegele.
Voegele confirms that collaborating with Grubbs has unlocked a new level of comfort in vulnerability in her creative process.
“I think it takes collaborating with another creative person, another friend, to unlock those things as an artist. I’ve written a lot of songs that I’m really proud of in my life. But this project has helped me explore a different side of what I have to say as a songwriter,” said Voegele.
Grubbs elaborated on discovering more about Voegele’s artistry that he had previously not known about.
“It’s like when you go out with your friend that you think is real chill, and then suddenly you’re like, ‘Oh wait, you like Espresso Martinis? I like Espresso Martinis.’ And you’re like, ‘I didn’t see that coming.’ I would like for people to get that from this band where it’s like,’Oh, here’s a moment. I didn’t expect that they would go there,’” said Grubbs.
“In these sessions, I’ve heard Kate go places with her voice that just blow my mind. I mean, she is so cool. The stuff that she does on these songs is so special.”
Voegele feels very connected to the debut single.
“We were talking about the idea of the world being a really crazy and chaotic place. We definitely started this band when things were chaotic in one way. And then I think we’re unfortunately living in a time where once one chaotic thing happens, the next thing starts, and things are wild. It’s a beautiful time to be alive and a crazy time to be alive,” said Voegele.
“I think this song was just about finding those places that you can go, whether they’re literal places or figurative places, a friendship with a person or a relationship or something, that lets you escape the noise and the chaos and where you can be yourself unapologetically and exhale.”
Production was kept simple on the album, with just Voegele, Grubbs, and Grubbs’ dog Buster in the studio. The duo both confirmed their aim to produce a gritty indie rock album that gives in to the chaos, and not the polished, television-crafted versions of themselves the public previously became acquainted with.
“Everyone is presenting curated versions of themselves and these things. And then you get to know them where you’re like, ‘you’re different from that.’ And you’re so much cooler. I feel like this for us is about us exposing ourselves, being a little more open to the world, so that people can see truer versions of ourselves,” said Grubbs.
“There is an aspect of getting your start on TV, where it was hard to find your legs after that, even though it was such a wonderful experience. It also was very different from the artistic expression playing a role versus when you get up on stage and you’re singing songs that you wrote about your life as you,” said Voegele of life after “One Tree Hill.”
“This album’s fun. To quote Mike, ‘This album drinks too much.’ And it parties, and it’s not perfect, but this is a jump up and down on your bed dirty indie rock album.”