Dance with the dead 

click to enlarge MAX WYNN
  • Max Wynn

Zak Bagans was just another working stiff peddling cell phones for a giant corporation when he found his calling. A highly unusual and scary one.

For seven straight nights he woke to a woman screaming his full name. Odder still considering he lived alone in his Trenton, Mich., apartment. On the last night he had been asleep on his stomach when he was once again awaken in the same manner. This time it felt like something was on his back pinning him down. After about 30 seconds, Bagans felt like he could move again. He flipped over and immediately faced the shadow figure of a woman at the foot of his bed. To this day it’s still a moment he has trouble describing.

“It’s like having contact with an alien,” Bagans said during a recent phone interview. “I don’t think this was just some random experience with a ghost. I think whatever prayers I was saying (at the time) were answered. This was my purpose.”

Bagans’ fate was sort of sealed when he returned to Michigan two years later for a visit, after having moved to Las Vegas. He took a video camera back to that apartment complex, gained entry to his old unit thanks to a friendly maintenance man and showed him what he had written on the inside of a cabinet door: “This place is haunted” along with his name and the date. Bagans told the maintenance worker about his experience. That’s when the man revealed that a woman who lived there before Bagans had killed herself in the bathtub.

“That for me kind of validated my experience,” Bagans said. “Once I heard that, I was really hooked on doing this forever.”

He went on to host the paranormal reality series “Ghost Adventures,” now in its seventh season on the Travel Channel. It has taken Bagans and fellow ghost hunters Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin all over the world investigating some of the most notorious haunted locales. They’ve used some of the latest technology to capture what they consider aural and visual proof of the existence of the supernatural.

“The level of communication (with spirits) I get now is what drives me,” Bagans said. “That is what’s groundbreaking in this field.”

One of his favorite devices is the SB7 Spirit Box, which sweeps through radio waves at a rapid clip to catch any interference. Bagans has used it numerous times to capture what’s believed to be spirits answering his questions.

“I don’t care who believes and who doesn’t,” he said of his results. “I know what we’re getting are voices that we can’t explain. I don’t know whose voices they are, but they aren’t of the living. We need to listen to them.”

Bagans concocted an interesting way to do just that. He collaborated with EDM pioneer Praga Khan (of Lords of Acid) to create an album of music built around these spirit voices. NecroFusion features 11 tracks, each telling a story of a departed soul and featuring actual electronic voice phenomena (EVP) that Bagans has recorded on his adventures. Khan’s music — both eerie and engaging — is meant to reflect the emotions Bagans felt during these experiences.

One of those on NecroFusion is titled “Poor Pearl.” It’s about 22-year-old Pearl Bryan of Indiana, whose decapitated body was found in 1896 near a slaughterhouse, on a site where supposed devil worship was conducted. It’s now the location of Bobby Mackey’s Music World near Cincinnati, considered one of the most haunted nightclubs in the country.

On “Poor Pearl,” Bagans is heard stating, “I think Pearl is safe now from her killers.” An EVP recording of a voice replying, “Is she?” follows.

NecroFusion isn’t just a project to satiate Bagans’ affinity for music, but a way for these voices to be heard. He believes just by listening to them, they can finally be at peace.

“They’ve wanted to say these things since they may have died under mysterious circumstances or took their own life,” Bagans said. “They just want to be heard so they can move on. Hearing these voices can not only help us understand the afterlife, but help them rest.”

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