Interview With Ghost Bus Frontwoman Luca Schmidt on Songwriting, The Philly Scene, and Glow Sticks
I met Luca Schmidt a little less than a year ago at music camp. I was immediately determined to become friends with her after hearing her sing at a performance because of her unique perspective on songwriting, her lyrics which moved audiences to tears, and her use of metaphor that did not distance the audience from her songs but instead brought it closer to the meaning. Since I met her she has gone off to college in Philadelphia and formed a band called Ghost Bus. With a Bright Eyes-esque folk rock sound, Ghost Bus has become increasingly popular in the Philly scene and has released a single called “Wasp’s Nest.” I wanted to interview Luca because her band represents an emotional aspect of the rock sound that I think my generation is losing.
So about a year ago you wrote and released a solo album. How has working with a band changed your songwriting process?
I don’t think it’s changed my process, if I’m being honest I’m still a control freak who does things all by myself!! But the band adds depth. I love doing arrangements together, it’s like rewriting everything in a new context.
You released your album as a senior in high school and started performing with Ghost Bus as a freshman in college. What would you say are the advantages of writing songs from a youthful perspective?
That’s a hard question because I’m more of an adult now but not by that much. I wrote more about adult things as a kid than I do now. That first project was focused more on universal ideas and concepts, some which didn’t involve me at all. Since working with the band, I’m back to just writing about my own life experiences.
What can I expect at a Ghost Bus concert?
Glow sticks, akwardness, the looming reality that something’s gonna break because we’re clumsy and dumb. I love when we play the first three songs in the set. We play all three without stopping and it sounds fantastic because it’s all in the same key and it’s very seamless. It’ll probably be in a basement, which gives it a very nice atmosphere.
Before the pandemic, Ghost Bus released a single called “Wasp’s Nest.” What was it like recording together for the first time?
That’s the first song on the album. It kind of sets the tone and it’s really intense. It is very telling of how we interact with each other musically because it’s the first song we arranged together.
What is it like to come together in the studio versus a live show?
In the studio we record things separately. It’s a fun time to just bring a bag of cheetos, goof off late in the night and just enjoy the learning process behind creating something together. It’s more relaxed because we’re not in front of an audience, but also tense because the stakes are higher and we’re trying to get a product. Shows are a lot more relaxed overall, I think. The important thing no matter what is just connecting with everyone.
How do you balance the hard-hitting messages of rock with Ghost Bus’ soulful folk infusion?
You can write a folk song about intense shit. Folk songs aren’t all just Ingrid Michaelson talking about how she wants to live in a house with bunnies and whatever.
What change do you want to one day see in the world as a result of your music?
I want more women and queer people to make art and talk openly about healing and trauma in a positive light with the intention of getting better.
When the pandemic is over, what are the next steps going to be for Ghost Bus?
We should probably finish recording the damn album! I’ve been playing all over on online venues, so it’d be nice to get back to doing in-person shows with venues we haven’t played before.
Check out “Wasp’s Nest,” out now on Bandcamp: https://ghostbusband.bandcamp.com/releases
Luca’s solo album, “The House” is up on Bandcamp and Youtube: