Phantogram is one of those rare modern pop acts that thrived by keeping their own pace even as the industry around them became increasingly hectic and unpredictable. In 2009, they were an unknown duo putting together a debut album in a cabin in upstate New York, and after waiting more than four years, this year they put out a sophomore album that debuted all the way at No. 11. This seems impossible! Sure, Beyonce has the luxury to take as long as she’d like between projects. But go down a few levels, and a lot can go wrong in a similar amount of time: for instance, the industry could very well grind you down to dust (see: Sky Ferreira) or you could suffer a complete loss of good will (see: Azealia Banks).
But between 2009 and 2014, Phantogram have seemed to operate on their own plane, and avoided the common pitfalls. Between albums one and two, they offered up a couple EPs, signed to a major and benefitted from a confidence-boosting collaboration with one of their hip-hop idols, Big Boi. All the while, they never compromised their sonic mission, and that comes through in Voices, where the samples, beats and Barthel’s vocals all sound more muscular and evocative.
I spoke with the duo last week about their gradual rise to see how they’ve seemingly done everything right up to this point. Read on to find out why they’re still not done picking up speed, where the Big Grams project with Big Boi stands and which late night show has the best snacks. More »