In The Groove With Ghostly International’s Sam Valenti IV

The founder of the Ann Arbor record label looks back on three formative songs from his life for WDET’s award-winning series.

Ghostly International

Click the audio player above to listen to the full conversation. CultureShift airs weekdays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on 101.9 WDETFM Detroit Public Radio.

For the past 20 years, the Ghostly International record label has existed at the intersection of design and electronic.

Originally founded in Ann Arbor by a then-19-year-old college freshmen Sam Valenti IV, the label has produced homegrown talents like Matthew Dear and Dabrye (Tadd Mullinix).

To celebrate the label’s 20th anniversary, Ghostly will take over a stage at Movement, the electronic music festival taking place over Memorial Day weekend, with acts like Madlib, Heathered Pearls and more.

For this edition of WDET’s award-winning series In The GrooveValenti spoke with CultureShift‘s Ryan Patrick Hooper about the music that informed him over the years and influenced the aesthetic and sound of the label overall.

Song #1: “Popcorn” by Gershon Kingsley

When he was a kid, Valenti’s older sister played a large role in shaping his taste in music. 

“My older sister had a dance performance for school and one of the songs they played was Gershon Kingsley’s ‘Popcorn,’” says Valenti. “I never had heard that template or that palette before. I remember being really transfixed by how beautiful it sounded and how, kind of, alien it sounded. Very charming. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I liked what electronics sounded like.”

Song #2: “Blue Monday” by New Order

In his late teens, Valenti was going to parties and learning more about Detroit’s techno scene. One of the songs that had an impact on him was “Blue Monday” by New Order played at full volume.

“Growing up in the Detroit area, I would go to a lot of the late-90s raves that were still going on at the Packard Plant and other places. I remember hearing a DJ play it at the Packard Plant at full volume. It made me realize electronic music was a physical thing. That’s right when I was starting the idea of” Ghostly, says Valenti.

Song #3: “The Line Up” by Shigeto (featuring Ian Fink)

After 20 years of running the multimedia record label Ghostly International, Valenti has spent a lot of time seeing musicians create. 

“I would say the beauty of my job is I get to sit-in and listen to demo’s and sessions and be in the artist’s studio a lot,” says Valenti.

One of the artists Valenti has spent a lot of time with is Shigeto, the Detroit-based musician and long-time member of Ghostly. 

Shigeto’s song “The Line Up” is a track Valenti saw come together and listens to frequently. 

Click on the audio player above to hear the full interview with Ghostly International’s Sam Valenti IV for CultureShift’s award-winning segment In The Groove.


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.