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Ghostkeeper Unveils Single “Lipstick” from Upcoming LP ‘Cîpayak’

Along with Victory Pool Records, Ghostkeeper is pleased to share “Lipstick,” the first single from their upcoming album ‘Cîpayak.’




Along with Victory Pool Records, Ghostkeeper is pleased to share “Lipstick,” the first single from their upcoming album Cîpayak. Since day one, the Ghostkeeper band name has been defined by the core duo of namesake singer, songwriter, guitarist Shane Ghostkeeper and singer, songwriter, and percussionist/electronics manipulator Sarah Houle.

Over the years, the band has encapsulated numerous other configurations and stages of development, and the most recent one is responsible for their critically acclaimed album Multidimensional Culture, which was long-listed for the Polaris prize and called “something unique and meaningful” by Exclaim! magazine. But the newest chapter in the Ghostkeeper saga is Cîpayak, at once a sub-project in the band’s universe and also the start of a series of new albums. Here, the approach is sheared back to that core duo of Ghostkeeper and Houle, coming full circle and mirroring their seminal days writing and performing as a duo.

Cîpayak – a Cree term that translates as ‘the ghosts are dancing’ and is often used to describe the Northern Lights – originates as a project in a few different places. Originally in the running as an alternative to the Ghostkeeper moniker, its initial usage was as the name for Shane and Sarah’s collective visual art practice, widely debuted at Contemporary Calgary in April of 2020 for their interactive piece “Four Words Challenge,” which included a few pieces of music the two had spontaneously cooked up with tech wizard and longtime audio associate Brad Hawkins.

“Lipstick” opens with a strangely inviting, other-worldly noise, perhaps a chirping, digitized cicada, before settling into a sultry drumbeat. The beat – and various other aspects of the production – betray an interest in sounds and rhythms from trap music and the futuristic-sounding sonic architecture of contemporary R&B acts like FKA Twigs and Rosalía. Still, the song is grounded by the two singers, who each take a verse, their voices filtered through a pleasingly psychedelic lens. Minimal synths, playful hi-hat syncopations, and dub-like snare hits radiating into the background are all tightly woven around the voices and beat, and the choruses are lifted by a low, twangy guitar-like sound, which may be the closest thing to “normal” Ghostkeeper part in this song.

“Brad would come down to the basement, Sarah would work up a drum beat, and I’d start improvising, coming up with different vocal ideas and other melodic parts, finding the songs in the sounds,” Shane recalls. “It was all about being immediate, with no premeditated ideas.” This ‘no songs first’ approach of Cîpayak was a radical reinvention of their creative process, but more than anything else, this project represents a return to that core band trajectory that Shane and Sarah originally laid down in their halcyon days. And this is what makes their first single, “Lipstick,” such a perfect introduction to Cîpayak.

The song represents a return to the core duo and stands as an acknowledgement, celebration, and strengthening of this initial bond that ignited everything. “‘Lipstick’ is a reminiscing song,” Shane says. “After we met that summer in Edmonton, Sarah went off to art college in Halifax, and she sent me care packages of letters and mixtapes. One had a photobooth strip tucked in it, and that was the first photo I held onto forever.” The song references the couple’s early days in Calgary, going to shows at local bars, and the age-old ritual of between-set sidewalk hangs and shared cigs outside the venue. On one of these nights out, Shane “noticed the lipstick stains on the end of our cigarette, and it was just something I’d never noticed in that way until now.”

Ghostkeeper “Lipstick” single artwork

Ghostkeeper “Lipstick” single artwork

Lover of all things music, Vanessa De La Rosa has been involved in the music scene most of her life in different capacities. All genres welcome, she is a past master in the art of "nerding-out" with music, and is excited to explore that passion by sharing the stories of artists everywhere. Fan of: Festivals, gear, music production, all genres, supporting artists, concerts, and merch!