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Phantogram

phantogramHip hop. Post-punk. Soul. EDM. Rock. Trip hop. Synthpop. Try describing New York band Phantogram’s sound to a friend, and you’ll end up choking on hyphens. Phantogram are a band for today, for people who grew up with both Public Enemy and Yeah Yeah Yeahs posters on their walls. Their sound seems purpose-made for iPod shuffle; seamlessly shifting between grimy beats, wailing noise and beautiful melodies. Not just between tracks, but between verses. Phantogram make music for the mashup generation. CAMERON JAMES writes.

“I don’t know of many people who just listen to one genre of music,” says one half of Phantogram, Josh Carter. “And if they do, they must be pretty boring. People my age have been exposed to so many different kinds of music. And I think that they wanna hear things that are more fresh,” says Carter. “As an artist it’s your duty to mess around and have fun with what you’re doing. And be exposed to all kinds of music.”

By all accounts, Carter and his creative other half Sarah Barthel created Phantogram in a vacuum. Starting in 2007, the duo would play bits and pieces of songs for each other, weaving them into full tracks in the process. Up until the release of their debut album, Eyelid Movies in 2009, they’d never played a single live show. Their sound is their sound. It came from within them, and nowhere else.

Rather than attempt a multi-hyphenate genre-mashing descriptor, Carter sticks with the simple “experimental pop” when asked what Phantogram do. And luckily for us, the pair is bringing its experimental pop to our shores for Splendour In The Grass in July.

“You’re going to get some high-energy performances out there, man,” Carter says. In the US, Phantogram have become as known for their live shows as their dynamic recordings. Their last tour boasted an insane light show, co-designed by Barthel. Carter isn’t sure if they’ll be able to bring all that production to our faraway land, but assures us that we’re in for something special regardless.

“It will be very visual, very energetic, and emotional as well,” he says. “We wanna give people an experience that’s more than just seeing a band. We want to connect with our audience.”

So, how do US indie darlings prepare themselves for a tour to the other side of the planet? “We pack lots of socks and underwear,” Carter deadpans. Ahh. There’s that Brooklyn humour.

“We’ve never been to Australia before, so we have to humble ourselves,” he continues. “We’re doing pretty well in the States, but out there we’re playing for a brand new audience. So we have to introduce ourselves by putting on a great Phantogram show.”