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Interview with Phantogram's Sarah Barthel

For the record, Phantogram are guitarist Josh Carter and keyboardist Sarah Barthel. They are an Electronic duo with Hip-Hop influences. The pair hail from Saratoga Springs, New York and their debut LP 'Eyelid Movies' was released on the 9th of February 2010 to much acclaim. Check out our previous post on the duo. We managed to catch up with Sarah Barthel to ask a few questions.

(One For The People) What are your thoughts on how Eyelid Movies was received, has it met your expectations?

(Sarah Barthel) We are very happy with the positive response with Eyelid Movies. When we finished the record in the spring of 2008, it was meant to be more of a demo to build a local fan base. Instead it turned into our debut album with worldwide distribution. This was something we weren't expecting was going to happen so fast, but it's everything we dreamt it would be.

"no matter what kind of music you make, people are always going to try their hardest to find a genre to put you in. There is some sort of comfort in doing so..." - Sarah Barthel, Phantogram

(1FTP) A Phantogram is a form of optical illusion, is that how you see yourselves? what is in the name?

(Sarah) We see ourselves as a 2 dimensional band making 3 dimensional sound. We wanted a name that was visually captivating with double meanings. A Phantogram to us before we even looked up the definition was a message from a ghost.

(1FTP) We tend to enjoy spotlighting artists who you can't categorise, everybody always tries to pigeon hole bands/groups/artists into a particular style or genre.  I feel you've successfully managed to avoid that with your music, do you agree with that or do you see people still trying to put their finger on your style?

(Sarah) People have a harder time with our sound. I think no matter what kind of music you make, people are always going to try their hardest to find a genre to put you in. There is some sort of comfort in doing so I think. People like familiarity and that okay with us. Just as long as they like it.

(1FTP) How was supporting the likes of The XX, Yeasayer and Ra Ra Riot? Those three are best described as 'a variety of styles', when put in one sentence.

(Sarah) We are honored get asked to play with such incredible bands. When bands that we admire so much tell us that they respect our music, it's a great feeling. The XX were a lot of fun to hang out with. They are all very sweet people.

(1FTP) Are there any plans in place for a new LP, where are you at with it?

(Sarah) There are plans for 30 more LPs! but as for our sophomore album, we are working on ideas on the road and are very excited to release some new tunes. We've been touring on the same songs for over 2 years now. I'm not sure when the new record will be released but we will spend some time this winter recording in upstate NY.

(1FTP) The hip-hop influences are obvious, but who did you look up to as kids?

(Sarah) When Josh and I were really little, our first cassette tape we bought was Kris Cross, which is pretty awesome. I was very fond of Michael Jackson when I was growing up. But then again, who wasn't. Prince was another artist I loved as well. When I started playing the piano in high school, I adored Fiona Apple and Tori Amos.

(1FTP) Should we be expecting you in the UK any time soon?

(Sarah) We want to come back as soon as we can. We are planning touring in Europe this spring and we will be playing several shows in the UK.

(1FTP) What would be on a Phantogram Mixtape?...

(Sarah) Phantogram Hip Hop Mixtape:

1. Elzhi - Guessing Game
2. Flying Lotus - Melt!
3. Guilty Simpson - Clap Your Hands
4. Nerd - Got It Like That
5. Oh No - Adventures

(1FTP) Fill in the blanks for us.....

(Sarah) Phantogram are beats mixed with eyelids with a little bit of dirt thrown in.

Here is a live version of 'Mouthful of Diamonds' done for Kexp.