PHANTOGRAM – Interview

Es ist gerade erst ein paar Tage her, dass wir hier über die neue Phantogram EP ‘Nightlife‘ berichtet haben und sie mit voller Bedroomdisco-Kugel-Punktzahl auszeichnen konnten. Heute gibt es dann den nächsten Rundumschlag zum amerikanischen Girl-Boy-Duo, kommen Sarah Barthel und Josh Carter doch demnächst für einige Gigs nach Deutschland bzw. haben in Rekordzeit unseren Interview-Fragenkatalog beantwortet und zurückgeschickt – daher hier und jetzt: Phantogram im Bedroomdisco Interview!

Band facts

Name: Phantogram
Band members (names): Sarah Barthel, Josh Carter
Founding year: 2007
Residence: New York
Current album: Nightlife

How did you start making music – had you been forced to play an instrument somehow or was it in your own interest? What was your motivation?
we started really making music later in life. late teens. sarah plays piano, synth, sings. josh plays drums, guitar, synth, makes beats, production. our motivation was to create music that we wanted to hear.

How did you meet and in which situation did you decide to form a band?
we’ve been friends since junior high. josh had been working on his solo demos and asked sarah to join him in making music in 2008

In which situation did you come up with the name ‘Phantogram’, why did you choose it and what meaning has it for you?
we wanted our name to symbolize a telegram from another demension.

What musical influences do you have?
too many. the beatles, wu-tang, my bloody valentine, depeche mode, prince, david bowie, bernard hermann, debussy, serge gainsbourg, sparklehorse, air, slowdive, nin…….

How do you normally work on songs? What are the steps/processes, what are the usual problems of finishing a song?
it differs every time. sometimes josh makes a beat, and we work around it. sometimes on guitar, or piano…lyrics are written on the spot, or in a coffee shop, or at a bar late night on a napkin.

We read that you always have pictures, colors and visual ideas in mind while writing songs – could you describe how this works and what ideas you had, illustrated by an example?
we envision random cinematic scenarios and write music that we think would complement it.

Could you tell us something about the production process of ‘Nightlife’? How long did it take, where did it happen, what were the difficulties, how did you prepare for it? What was the best, what the worst moment? Most told anecdote?
it was written during a particularly dark and moody time, at night, on the road on tour mostly in 2011.

’16 Years’ is one of our favorite songs – can you tell us what it is about, how it was done and if there is a story behind it?
josh wrote 16 years. he was singing jibberish over the track. – then went back and deciphered the words, read a story online about two girls in the south sentenced to 16 years for petty theft. it all seemed to make sense. the first line had always been “16 years”

Why did you decide to release an EP, instead of working on the next full length record?
because eyelid movies was still doing really well in the states, and we were touring on that record but hadn’t made time to make new music in way too long. nightlife was made to keep us happy as creators and songwriters, and hopefully so people who got the first album a while back could enjoy some new music from us too.

Are there already plans for a new album?
yes, we are working on a new album now.

In what situations do you write songs/lyrics/which themes inspire you to write songs?
existence in general. different emotions. – mostly melancholia…. our songs are about love, life, and death.

What are your next plans?
we are working on our next record, and some collaborations with other artists.

What are you doing if your not making music?
hanging out with friends, watching movies, listening to music, taking photos, drawing, skateboarding.

What did you learn in 2011?
i learned that wherever you go, there you are.

Your Top 3 records of 2011? Why?
st. vincent – strange mercy
danny brown – xxx
future islands – on the water

Which song would fit to your actual situation?
it’s a wonderful life – sparklehorse

Which song makes you dance independent of your situation?
closer – nin

How would your ‘Bedroomdisco’ look like?
“satin sheets, tropical oils, turn up the heat”

Who did fill out this questionnaire?
josh carter

Phantogram live:
16.02. Feierwerk, München
19.02. Hafen 2, Offenbach
20.02. Comet Club, Berlin
21.02. Prinzenbar, Hamburg

Da wir das Phantogram-Konzert am Sonntag im Hafen 2 in Offenbach präsentieren, verlosen wir wie gewohnt 2×2 Gästelistenplätze für die Show. Wenn ihr dabei sein wollt, schreibt uns bis zum 18.02. eine Mail mit eurem Namen und dem Betreff ‘Phantogram @ Hafen 2’ an und mit etwas Glück seid ihr dabei!


Bedroomdisco-Gründer, Redaktions-Chef, Hans in allen Gassen, Golden Leaves Festival Booker, Sammler, Fanboy, Exil-Darmstädter Wahl-Hamburger & happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk - spreading love for great music since '08!

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