Phantogram perform in The Current studio

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Phantogram perform at The Current
Phantogram perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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Phantogram perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • Phantogram perform in The Current studio (full session + interview) 19:12
  • Phantogram - Fall in Love (live on The Current) 03:34
  • Phantogram - Cruel World (live on The Current) 02:55
  • Phantogram - You Don't Get Me High Anymore (live on The Current) 04:32

Much has been said about the cinematic quality of Phantogram's music. Their debut album was entitled Eyelid Movies, and as Phantogram's Josh Carter tells it, the band's songwriting method takes a filmic approach. "We get together and visualize a short movie or something like that, and rap back and forth about what's going on and how the music would sound under X circumstance," Carter says. "That's a lot of how we write."

This process continues to serve Phantogram well. On Oct. 7, 2016, they released their third full-length album, Three. Touring in support of the album, Phantogram stopped at The Current's studio for a session hosted by Jade.

Although Phantogram approach their songs cinematically, the resulting music is not so much character-based as it is evocative of a scene or mood. "It's more rooted in the emotion of the song," says Phantogram's Sarah Barthel. "I don't have any training at all when it comes to theory and all that stuff; I drive from the emotion, and whatever comes out comes out."

Strong emotions are at the very heart of Three. During the time the album was being written, Barthel's sister — also a close friend of Carter's — committed suicide. "During the tragedy that happened to Josh and I this year, it took me some time to actually let all of it go away," Barthels says. "There wasn't any room for creativity for me."

The music, however, eventually provided an outlet to express the band members' many emotions. "There was a period where both of us felt this very empty feeling where we didn't want to go on," Carter says. "But we had already started writing a pretty depressing album; we expressed a lot of sadness and also anger, even, and frustration, that you can hear all throughout the album."

Music, as it so often does, helped express the ineffable. "Josh and I, we have written [more] from sadness in our lives than happiness," Barthels explains. "I mean, we don't write 'sunshine, today's a wonderful day' songs. We aren't depressed people; it's just what we gravitate towards when we write. It's cathartic in that way. It's kind of like our therapy."

Use the audio player above to listen to the complete session with Phantogram.

Songs Performed


"Fall in Love"
"Cruel World"
"You Don't Get Me High Anymore"

The first song is from Phantogram's 2014 album, Voices; second and third songs are from Phantogram's 2016 album, Three. Both albums are available on Republic Records.

Hosted by Jade
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Jalen Russell
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Luke Taylor

Resources


Phantogram - official site

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  • Album of the Week: Phantogram, 'Three' Phantogram's music sounds like a movie soundtrack. If this were a movie, its characters would be marked by grief and torn apart by darkness. Confusing emotional ground forced Phantogram to dig deep on 'Three'.
  • Phantogram perform live in The Current studios They were only five shows in on their 24-date tour, so the bus still smelled fresh when the now four-piece came into The Current studios to play a few songs off their new self-titled EP and to chat with host Mary Lucia about the just-announced full-length. They also talked about why core members Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel think The Current is better than other radio stations.
  • Phantogram performs live in The Current studio With their debut record under their belts, the Saratoga Springs, New York duo Phantogram, are ready with a new EP entitled Nightlife. Joshua Carter and Sarah Barthel, who have been friend since junior high, continue to make infectious beats set against their ethereal indie pop sound.
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11 Photos

  • Phantogram perform at The Current
    Phantogram perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Phantogram perform at The Current
    Phantogram perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Phantogram perform at The Current
    Phantogram perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Sarah Barthel of Phantogram at The Current
    Sarah Barthel of Phantogram performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Phantogram perform at The Current
    Phantogram perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Sarah Barthel of Phantogram at The Current
    Sarah Barthel of Phantogram performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Phantogram perform at The Current
    Phantogram perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Phantogram perform at The Current
    Phantogram perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Sarah Barthel of Phantogram at The Current
    Sarah Barthel of Phantogram performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Josh Carter of Phantogram
    Josh Carter of Phantogram performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Sarah Barthel of Phantogram
    Sarah Barthel of Phantogram performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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