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I had so many problems with the audio recording as well as the video so I had to transcribe my interview with Phantogram from last week at the Innings Festival. Keep reading if you are interested in upcoming albums and finding out Phantograms biggest inspirations!

Josh: “It’s been a while since we’ve done this, we haven’t played in six months.”

Sarah: “It’s kinda crazy huh?”

Fae: “How’s that been for you guys? Has it gotten harder as you spend more time apart from performing?

Josh: “Well, we’re professional.”

Sarah: “Yeah!”

Josh: “We’ve just been busy making a record right now.”

Fae: “What genre is it most inspired by?”

Sarah: “Phantogram! It’s definitely a good step up from the last album, a natural evolution I’d say.”

Josh: “Yeah.”

Fae: “So when did you start making music, either individually or together?”

Josh: “I started in my early twenties- or late teens. And eventually, we started a band in our late twenties.”

Sarah: “Yeah, and then he taught me how to play a bunch of instruments; I mean I could already sing and play piano, but we joined together in 2007.”

Josh: “And we put out our first album in 2010. I guess we are a 14-year-old band!”

Fae: “I know you guys were in Big Grams for a while. How was that for you guys?”

Josh: “Good, we are just starting a new record, a second one.” 

Fae: “What type of hip hop inspired you to start Big Grams?”

Sarah: “We’ve always been influenced by Outkast in general, kinda just them as a collective. Y’know we always used to call ourselves the Aquemini (I know cuz I’m an Aquarius and he’s a Gemini). Then Big [from Outkast] reached out to us because he was a fan of our songs and then y’know, we shit our pants..and then met him and became friends with him. We flew out to Atlanta and worked on songs for his album. We wanted to do more, so we decided to start a side project, Big Grams”

Fae: “Are you guys gonna make a new record for Big Grams any time soon?”

Josh: “Technically we just started.”

Sarah: “Yeah, we just started. We got some beats.”

Josh: “As soon as we are done with this Phantogram album, we’re gonna go right for Big Grams.” 

Fae: “When are you expecting to release that? Within the next year?”

Sarah: “No idea.”

Fae: “So I know you guys have done Govball, in your hometown [NY] and you’re now playing Innings festival today. I was wondering the difference between playing bigger or smaller festivals…”

Josh: “Personally, I like it all.”

Sarah: “Each festival is a different experience. Even each performance is a different experience!”

Josh: “As long as we have fun on stage and the crowd is fine then it’s a good time. Let’s put it this way, we have fun at pretty much all the shows, but we can play in front of 25,000 people and not have a good time, it’s really not about the size of the crowd. But today we are gonna have a great time!”

Fae: “Do you think your crowd dynamics and demographics have changed throughout the years? Like with the rise of social media, you guys have gone from being popular on Tumblr to being popular on TikTok.”

Sarah: “Y’know it’s hard to tell because we had a song that got really popular on Tik Tok which actually brought a lot of fans in. There are now many more different people in our fanbase but we’ve always had a very diverse one. We will have a 65-year-old hippie guy and a bunch of TikTok fans but it really depends. We’ve gotten more popular since the pandemic, so it’s hard to gauge where our fans are really coming from. We haven’t played in front of a crowd like this for 6 years, so this will be interesting.”

Fae: “Was the song that got you famous on TikTok Black Out Days?”

Sarah: “Yeah, but it’s also been like- it’s been crazy because we’ve never had this many fans come in at the same time, and it’s just been so crazy!”

Fae: “Do you ever get tired of how many remixes there are out there of Black Out Days? Do you wish that other songs could gain that same popularity?”

Sarah: “Nah, it’s cool. I’m just happy people found us.”

Josh: “It’s better than nothing. I think we have like 2 or 3 million streams this year on Spotify…” [looks at manager for confirmation] “Oh double that, that’s sweet I’ll take it!”

Fae: “The first song I ever heard was When I’m Small, so I wondered what that song meant to you?”

Josh: “You’re an OG!”

Sarah: “Well, it means a lot of different things.”

Josh: “Basically we were just making music, doing our first album inside my parent’s barn and recording, and we kinda just came up with this imaginary character..all of our songs are really just imaginary stories. And uh, I started writing about this character named Lucy. She’s kind of shown up in our music after that too. So that’s the gist of it.”

Sarah: “It’s also a reference to one of our favorite bands, The Beatles. It’s not Lucy in the Sky but our own character.”

Fae: “Are there any other bands that really influenced you?”

Sarah: “Lots and lots.”

Josh: “Want a list?”

Fae: “I mean, sure! I know that New Order was a big one for you guys.”

Josh and Sarah: “The Cure, My Bloody Valentine, Bowie. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Zeplin, Madlib, J Dilla, Wu-Tang Clan, Jay Electronica, James Brown, Janet Jackson, Micheal Jackson, Al Greene, John Cage, John Cale, John Lennon, John Frusciante…”

Josh: “John Frusciante is the reason I play guitar…and he’s playing here tonight.”

Sarah: “Oh my god you need to meet him, like seriously you have to meet him.”

Josh: “Yeah, I got really into guitar after listening to him and it was just uphill from there”

Fae: “What was the first thing you played on guitar?”

Josh: “Davey Jones?” 

Sarah: “Mine was Sweet Dreams or Come as You Are I think by Nirvana”

Fae: “Haha mine was I love it by Charli XIX”

Sarah: “Oh nice, that’s awesome.”

Josh: “Didn’t we do a remix of that song?”

Sarah: “No, that might have been you though.”

Fae: “Charli XIX is back!”

Sarah: “She is back! Bitch is back. She got married and now she’s back.”

Fae: “I know you guys have a lot of EDM influence in your songs, are there any artists you draw immediate influence from?”

Sarah and Josh: “Yeah for sure. Gesaffelstein, Aphex Twin, Aperature, Justice…are those considered EDM?”

Fae: “I’m not sure if all of those are considered EDM..but they’re sounds! Still amazing influences nonetheless.” 

Josh: “I honestly wouldn’t say our roots come from EDM, it’s more just like sounds and vibe, I’d definitely say Justice plays a huge role in our sound tho.”

Fae: “I’d just never heard a band like Phantogram so I was interested to know if the EDMish sound was influenced by EDM at all.”

Sarah: “Well, we wanted to be original”

Josh: “Well in the words of 311, we wanted to ‘Come Original’”

Sarah: [laughter]

Josh: [laughter]

Josh: “Yeah, no…our whole ammo was to- at the time we were kinda sick of what was happening in the music scene, especially in the indie music scene; everything kind of sounded the same. We wanted to make music that we wanted to listen to. We were like well if no one is doing it anyway, let’s do it ourselves. That’s how we formed our style.”

Sarah: “A lot of influence by a lot of different genres- different elements from different genres without the fear of…I guess trying to do something fresh that no one else has done.”

Fae: “Did you guys start to learn all the different instruments you play before or after making the band?

Sarah: “I play the piano like with my ears and I knew how to sing before, but I learned guitar and bass when we started the band. Josh was always a guitar player and a piano player and a drummer. Should I tell them…”

Josh: “No, I will.”

Sarah: [laughter]

Josh: “Drums were my first instrument, but I’m not very good anymore because I don’t practice.  I would also say I’m more of a producer now and songwriter if anything. Being in the band has led me to get better at instruments.”

Fae: “Do you guys have any specific genres you draw influence from for your upcoming album?”

Josh: “We are working with John Hill who co-produced voices with us. So ten years later we are able to work with him again. He has been our friend for years, he has a very similar taste in music, it’s just like the natural progression of our band..or like a turnaround for us. Right now I’m influenced by crowdrock as well as the mid-80s post-punk scene. I also feel like shoegaze plays a big role in it.”

Sarah: “We’ve written a lot of songs”

Josh: “A LOT of songs, it’s been fun. Certainly experimental.” 

Fae: “Are you going to go on tour after you release this album?”

Josh: “Yeah. This summer we are touring with Kings of Leon and then either before or after we are gonna do our headline tour to promote our album. “

Fae: “All right thank you so much for your time, I know you have to go!”

Date: March 8, 2024

Publisher: Fae Campbell

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