Our friends at Indica Records informed us New York duo Phantogram recently dropped their latest album VOICES. I took a chance and played it at an impromptu dinner party and it was very impressive. VOICES has everything you would expect from Sarah Barthel & Josh Carter: airy vocals on a bed of atmospheric synth, swirling guitars and familiar electric beats. This indie subculture sound can fall into the dream pop shoe-gaze Mazzy Star category as well as raw electro rock like Ladytron or even trip-hop. There is a subtle trend it seems, (or perhaps it’s just me) but this angelic ethereal female singer lead, backed up by geeky male hipster electronics is WORKING. It certainly worked with Grimes and it’s been working for Phantogram’s steady climb to fame. With collabs by Pusha-T and Big Boi let’s admit the trip-hop is hip-hop in VOICES. Don’t let the goth maudlin song titles scare you, the music is ironically uplifting albeit moody. My top 3 favorite songs are: Black Out Days, Fall in Love, My Only Friend. BandMark had a few questions for the duo who took time to take numerous interviews between their California touring.
Bandmark’s Lisa Mac: 5 questions with Josh and Sarah
1- Tour trouble!
Lisa: What has been your biggest touring obstacles and what’s changed from early touring to now?
Sarah: When we were in a hatchback, the Canadian Can/US border was a hassle. Now that we have an actual tour bus, we don’t have to do things like the divide merch and equipment into multiple vehicles. AKA hiding the fact you’re a in a BAND.
2- CDs, digital downloads or Vinyl?
Lisa: Are CDs a thing of the past? What would you recommend a band produce with a limited budget? Cds, digital downloads, vinyl?
Josh: When we started touring we would make cheap CDs just to get the music out there. You can’t expect people to buy your music if they don’t know you. Give it out, it’s worth it. Make your own labels, envelops and burn them on your computer. You don’t even have to burn the entire album but give new fans a sample of your work. Digital downloads with a pay-anything model are good too. As for vinyl, that’s pricey for a small budget. IF you have a decent fan base, you can try 200 and SEE if they actually sell. Otherwise YOU are the one stuck with a stack of your own vinyl!
3. Fame tipping point
Lisa: Did you guys have a tipping point from playing a crowd of 40 to 4,000?
Josh: Seriously no. We really did things grass roots style and 5 fans talked to their friends and became 15. One thing we did do was actively tour and we started to notice when we hit the same cities that the fan bases were growing on their own. Word of mouth worked for us and things really happened organically.
Lisa: Like a snowball?
Josh: (laughs) ya I guess so!
4. Don’t leave home without?
Lisa: When on the road, what is the one thing that you HATE leaving home without?
Sarah: Hmm, that’s a good question… comfy clothes ya but my head phones. REALLY GOOD HEADPHONES.
Lisa: I hate when you forget your headphones and Air Canada gives you those ghetto foam ones!
Sarah & Josh: Yes, those are the worst. THE WORST.
5. An emerging band worth discovering?
Lisa: After I write this blog, I’m going to give an emerging band that is worth being discovered a shout out, give me one.
Josh: Lip Talk! they’re friends of ours but seriously they are REALLY good. Worth checking out.
PHANTOGRAM CANADIAN TOUR DATES:
February 28 @ Salle Andre-Mathieu Laval, PQ
March 1 @ Mod Club Toronto, ON
March 2 @ Rumrunners London, ON