This Just In: NYIKO Explores the Haunting of Relationships Past in “Ghost in Your Dreams”

NYIKO © Niles Gregory
LA-based multi-hyphenate NYIKO exorcises the ghosts of our exes with a dose of nostalgic synthpop to ignite socially distant dance floors this Halloween season.
Stream: “Ghost in Your Dreams” – NYIKO
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In some ways, the memories of our lovers become the ghosts in our lives – a scent, a sound, or an energy that recalls that special person in time.”

'Tis the season for haunts and apparitions.

While our neighbors dress their lawns in sheeted ghouls plucked from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or that twelve-foot skeleton from Home Depot, perhaps the most chilling ghosts are the personal ones. We each carry memories that surface like specters to wander unheeded about our halls. The recollection of a lost love can leap from the past at the slightest provocation – a sound, a scent, a familiar place. No Halloween mask can top the haunting of a broken heart.

"Ghost in Your Dreams" - NYIKO
“Ghost in Your Dreams” – NYIKO

LA indie pop artist NYIKO is no stranger to the ghosts of relationships past. Just in time for the spookiest of all seasons, the prolific artist, producer, and label owner returns with an auditory exorcism for those beset by insidious memories. “Ghost in Your Dreams” is exactly as it suggests, a meditation on the visions that refuse to come unstuck from our brains, surfacing again and again from our unconscious.

Playing close to its nostalgic themes, NYIKO laces his patented blend of 80’s synth pop wistfulness through the song, itself a ghost calling from a past you can’t quite reach. It’s a memory of a memory, one you’re sure you’ve experienced, yet can’t quite recall its details. Or perhaps you’ve invented the whole thing, rendering in pastel color a lush and vivid place that never existed, but feels more real than the drab and dull present that surrounds you. Some memories are ghosts because of what we think they mean to us, whether they happened the way our mind paints them or not. We’re haunted by ideals, and each lost relationship is another crack in what could have been.

According to NYIKO, “Ghost in Our Dreams” was written as a way to process and untangle these mental threads, to make sense of the relationships that leave us in such a state.

NYIKO © Niles Gregory
NYIKO © Niles Gregory
I’m just the ghost in your dreams
And you’re fighting for sleep
It takes the life out of me
Our love is a vampire it seems

The longer we allow memory to haunt us unexamined, the more it sucks the life out of us like a certain seasonal monster. We lose our focus on what’s in front of us, reverting instead to living in a past of our own devising. The song pulls us back into that space too with lush keys reminiscent of a creased and faded photo circa 1986, jheri curls and Cyndi Lauper eyeliner barely visible through years of grit. Beneath it, NYIKO lays a bounding, playful bass reminding us of those elusive “better times” even as we try to push them away.

“Love shows up when we least expect it,” he says. “When it does, we may not even be ready for it. That is both the beauty and pain of love.”

But love can also mean letting go. As much as we like to live in the comfort of a past real or devised, it’s an illusion. It prevents us from moving forward and experiencing all that is glorious and new about the world around us. The past can teach us, but it shouldn’t bind us in place. Maybe when the ghosts and ghouls give way to decked halls and silver bells, the stuck among us can take that step forward.

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:: stream/purchase “Ghost in Your Dreams” here ::
Stream: “Ghost in Your Dreams” – NYIKO

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To celebrate the spooky season, NYIKO told us all about his favorite supernatural/horror films. Check out his list below:
  1. Insidious

This one hit home in an eerie way. When I was growing up I had a recurring nightmare about an elderly woman dressed in black. In the nightmare, I would be walking alongside my mother at a fair. Eventually, I would turn to find my mom, and in her place would be the old woman and her eyes were dark voids. I remember seeing Insidious in theaters for the first time and jumping out of my seat when the Old Woman first came on screen – she was a dead ringer for my childhood nightmare. I still get a little spooked when I think about it.

  1. A Ghost Story

I saw this in theaters and it blew me away. Out of all the films I’ve mentioned, this one most closely related to the motifs I explore in my own writing, specifically in “Ghost In Your Dreams.” The concept that a relationship and the associated memories can act as a ghost in our mind and in our thoughts. Hollywood has a tendency to show ghosts as nefarious spirits. but this film is a refreshing and poetic approach to the paranormal.

  1. The Conjuring

Is this one of the scariest movies ever? Perhaps. Does it fully make me curl up under the blankets and clutch myself every time I watch it? Yes. James Wan is a master at building suspense. The cinematography is stunning and completely immersive. Shut off all the lights and you’ll feel like you’re in the house with  Lorraine and Ed Warren.

NYIKO © Niles Gregory
  1. The Shining

Not only is this one of the greatest horror films but it might be one of the best films of all time. It’s iconic and has inspired countless films since its release. The film is set in Maine which has a very similar aesthetic to where I grew up in New Hampshire. The winters can be super isolating and the film does a great job at personifying that feeling.

  1. 1408

This one is a total mind-bender and easily one of my top Stephen King adaptations. As in some of the best ghost stories, it focuses on ghosts in the supernatural and metaphoric sense. This one left me feeling uneasy (in a good way?) well after the credits rolled. Also, if you’re a John Cusack fan, this one is top-tier ‘sack!

  1. Oculus

I’ve seen this movie exactly once and I’m honestly kind of afraid to watch it again. It does a fantastic job of playing with the viewer’s expectations and creating a thoroughly ominous atmosphere from start to finish. It’s unrelenting. Highly recommended if you’re up for a super dark psychological rollercoaster.

  1. Beetlejuice

For a little bit of levity in the ghost-genre, Beetlejuice is a prime pick with an all-star cast. Michael Keaton’s performance is crude, deranged, and tons of fun, playing a perfect opposite to Winona Ryder’s angsty teenage goth. I recently rewatched this one and was pleasantly surprised at how well it holds up. The Day-o (Banana Boat Song) scene is reason enough to give it a go.

  1. Spirited Away

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this spectacular animated film by the masterful Hayao Miyazaki. The story is beautiful, whimsical, and deep. It touches on identity, consumerism, environmentalism all through a colorful children’s story.

  1. The Crow

This film is visually striking and emotionally deep with a truly tragic backstory. If you’re unfamiliar with the background of the film, Brandon Lee, the lead actor, died as a result of an accident during filming. They had already filmed most of his scenes, so they finished the rest of it with some re-writes, a stunt-double, and CGI. This film is compelling in its own right, but knowing the backstory adds a haunting element to the viewing experience.

  1. The Orphanage (El Orfanato)

Making little kids scary is a common trope in the horror genre, but this film does it in a way that feels purposeful and fresh. The film is sufficiently spooky and manages to have a fantastic story and character development.

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:: stream/purchase “Ghost in Your Dreams” here ::

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