Pablo Alvarez, aka Good Bison, is running from a ghost. The protagonist on his new EP, the Goosebumps-inspired “Ghost on Mulholland,” represents the LA musician’s inner turmoil, causing him to flee in the video for the track “Better Lies.”
Alvarez was born in Colombia, moved to Miami with his mother and relocated to LA several years ago. To make “Ghost on Mulholland,” he went back to Miami, where he reconnected with lifelong friend Abe Mendez, who wrote and recorded the EP with him. The result is a difficult to pigeonhole piece of music that Under The Radar noted for its “rapid-fire rapping and slacker indie rock charm.”
We recently caught up with Alvarez by email to talk about self-doubt, what inspires him and what artist he dreams of collaborating with.
How did Goosebumps inspire “Ghost on Mulholland?”
I read a ton of Goosebumps growing up. I couldn’t get enough of those books, so they obviously popped into my head when I started writing the short story. The record itself has a nostalgic quality, which I feel ties everything together.
In the press release you talk about people having a tendency to be hard on themselves. Can you give an example of that from your own life?
I’m my own biggest critic. I can get in my own head and just tear myself down. Even while working on this EP, there would be moments when I’d feel like what I was doing was garbage. Instead of hyping myself up, I’d try to convince myself I couldn’t do it.
Is the “ghost” a metaphor for self-doubt or something like that?
The ghost is an extremely real, paranormal phenomenon, and everyone needs to take that seriously. You never know how many people you come across on a daily basis may be dealing with their own hauntings. Just kidding, yeah, something like that. It’s whatever you want it to be.
How would you compare this release with previous Good Bison music?
Sonically, this project definitely feels like a continuation of “Scattered Storms,” but way less stripped and acoustic. Definitely still leaned into live instrumentation and organic sounds, but we went way bigger with the production.
Who are some lyricists who inspire you?
So many, it’s hard to even know where to start. Paul McCartney. Paul Simon. Eminem. Lorde. Taylor Swift. They all inspire me in different ways.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up? What type of music did you listen to growing up?
I was born in Bogota, Colombia, but I moved to Miami when I was 7 years old. I lived there until I moved to Los Angeles in 2014. Growing up, I listened mostly to classic hip-hop and punk/pop punk rock. I was a huge Green Day fan. I’ve always loved The Beatles though, they were probably the first artist I ever got into.
How did you meet Abe? What did be bring to the new EP?
Abe and I have been friends for a long time. We went to middle school together, and both of us were into skateboarding. We never really drifted apart, but I’d say we reconnected for real around 2016. We worked on both “Why’d Ya Leave?” and “Wavy” off of the “That’s Bodhi” mixtape, and then a few years after that he came to LA and we started “Nowhere to Go.”
For this EP, it was important for both of us to be in the same room jamming. We wrote all the songs at his home studio, and he was also the lead producer and recording engineer for the entire project. It wouldn’t have been possible without him.
Will there be any live shows?
Totally, Abe and I actually spent the past couple of months developing the live set with some really talented musicians in Miami. We hope to announce some shows soon.
Who are some artists you’d like to collaborate with?
Lately, I’ve been listening to Phoebe Bridgers non-stop and she seems like she loves collaborating with other artists. It would be a dream to work with her.
What does the name Good Bison mean and why did you choose it?
I started Good Bison with Mauri Viladegutt and Sebastian Delgado after the three of us moved to LA. At the time, we were in a band called Dinosaurs ’N Disasters. This project felt like a natural continuation of that band, but also something completely different. I guess we wanted to keep the animal theme going.
Is there anything else about the EP you would like to mention?
There’s so many incredible people who contributed to this EP. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by so many talented artists like Abe Mendez, George Spits, Agustin Mas, Sebastian Delgado and Estefania Krol. And I’m so grateful to everyone who takes the time to listen to “Ghost on Mulholland.” I hope you get as much out of this journey as I have.