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Hinterland – Interview with Phantom

Elsie from Phantom with a Rickenbacker. Need we say more?

If we weren’t excited about Hinterland before, we really are now thanks to the wit and verve screaming out from the interviews we’ve conducted with some of the acts. This latest, from Phantom, is no different; this two-girl-and-a-boy combo sound and look like one of the coolest acts on the go at the moment. Seriously, check out their myspace at http://www.myspace.com/thisisphantomuk

Anyway, enjoy this:

Hinterland – we’re excited; how are you feeling about it?

We’re excited too. Hinterland is our first festival appearance; Scotland has a great musical heritage ( Jesus & Mary Chain, Mogwai..) and am really looking forward to playing to Glaswegian crowds.

What got you started in music and who are your influences?

I worked in the music industry in Canada, as a music TV presenter and Journalist, and to be honest the whole time I was making tv programmes with bands, on the road and in the studio, I never once picked up and instrument, never knew that I could do it, never realised I could even sign! The whole thing was an unexpected discovery for me, it happened when I hit UK shores, I found myself out of work, was still hanging out with musicians and one of them just threw a guitar in my hands! And the rest is history as they say.

My major influence is probably making up for lost time.

What’s the best aspect of live performance?

Definitely the rush / adrenaline you get out of it. Because writing is a solitary exercise for me, once I get out of the writing stage and start working on the dynamics of a song in rehearsals with Jonny and Lyndsay, my band mates, I get a rush hearing the song with a full band. Add to that a stage and a room full of people getting into it…. it’s just brilliant.

What’s your favourite gig played so far?

We played a film evening in London, called the pictures, and the audience were so attentive. They watched our performance like the screening of a film, like it was a story unfolding. I suppose there’s little tales in each songs, and if you put them together they tell a story.

Who at Hinterland are you most excited to be sharing the bill with?

The Fall! What legends….I remember getting the Kurious Orange album when I was still living in Canada and just being blown away by it – I’ve been a fan ever since. I would have loved to have seen them on that tour (with the dance /ballet / theatre show).

Of the less well known acts at Hinterland, who would you recommend to check out?

iLiketrains are brilliant live and I’ve never seen Drums of Death, am curious to see what they do live. There’s so many bands playing and I love discovering new favourites so I’ll be all ears for new music.

What does the rest of 2009 look like for you?

We’re releasing a single in the autumn, am shopping around for the right label at the moment. We’ll be on the road a lot to promote it, there’s a good chance we’ll get around the UK and Europe (even Canada) in the coming year.

How important do you feel art is in reflecting society?

Art is everywhere, it’s all around you. It not only showcased in museums and galleries. It’s in on our streets, on our bodies, in our television sets, it’s everything from tattoos to the clothes that we wear, the graffiti we walk passed everyday, it’s the visual design of our favourite TV show, it’s even this website’s layout. And it is very important! Art encourages the growth of society, and at the same time society provokes the direction of its Art. Art and society go hand in hand.

Art v Commerce – Is it possible to be hugely successful and hugely respected at the same time? What’s most important?

It possible, look at Radiohead! There’s no shame in being successful. Obscurity never did anyone any favours.

It’s an interesting time for the music business – has technology been a help or a hindrance to aspiring artists?

Definitely a help. Artists have more freedom to take control. In Phantom for example, we record all the demos at home, they’re mixed and mastered on a simple Mac programme. It means that we learn the basics of recording and how much production can alter the sound of a track. It’s a great learning curve for me as a songwriter to understand what kind of production I like and what approach I want from a producer.

Who are the most overrated and underrated artists in music?

The Chameleons are, in my opinion, one of the most underrated bands of the 80’s post punk movement. Their sound is timeless and frankly they’ve been ripped off by contemporaries too may times over. I can say they’re a huge influence of mine, and they deserve to be mentioned. Just go and buy Script of the Bridge it’s a must have!

The Horrors are overrated. Don’t get me wrong – I love their look and their sound but they haven’t exactly invented it. I think the press has to take responsibility for a lot of the hype; it’s got little to do with the band itself. The press put bands on pedestals too much, it makes the audience look at music through a funnel and ignore a lot of other bands/ sounds.

You have one bullet and immunity from prosecution – who’s getting it?

Female performers who rely far too much on the” sex sells” motto and prance around stage looking more like cheap escorts than performers. Is one bullet enough? there are far too many these days…

All I would say is: come on girls pick up an instrument for Christ’s sake!!

Phantom play Hinterland and, admit it, you want to see them too, don’t you? So do we!


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