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Like a female Morrissey fronting the Bad Seeds – Phantom

We first caught up with Phantom about six months ago, when they were in town for the Hinterland Festival.  Today sees the release of their debut single ‘The Great Pretender.’ We caught up with the guys to to see what’s been happening in the corner marked ‘gorgeous pop-noir’;

Elsie Martins - Phantom
Elsie Martins

So, seems you’ve been busy since we last caught up with you! What have the last six months been like?

Busy indeed. The last 6 months have been all about getting this single out of my head and on the record shop shelves. There’s a lot of work to be done behind the scenes: meeting with potential labels, producers and deciding on which one of the demo ep tracks would be best suited for a Phantom debut. ‘Great Pretender’ seemed like the obvious choice for me. Then there’s the incessant gigging and we’ve just finished shooting the video with Art.War Entertainment Ltd. That was a real treat!

And of course, I’m writing new material – I just got my hands on some exciting new equipment so listen out for even more strange noises creeping into Phantom sets very soon….

How was it working with James Aparicio?

It was brilliant. I met james last year, he remixed a Phantom demo and did a great job with it. Because he was familiar with the demo sessions and understood the Phantom sound, it was very natural for us to work together. The demos served as a pre-production tool so the studio time was used very efficiently: we recorded everything for two songs in one day!

We knew exactly what was needed and there was no experimentation on the day per se. James’s role was pretty important because Great Pretender could have been mixed in so many ways, giving the track a totally different feel. After the session James took the project away and we waited patiently to hear the mix. It can be pretty nerve-wracking when something like that is out of your hands, but he’s worked with Mogwai and Nick Cave – and we did quiz him in the studio about working with them – so I knew he’d do an amazing job. I had no worries there.

You aren’t really representative of any ‘scene’ – is that a help or a hindrance?

I think, initially, it helps for a band to be part of a scene but it probably soon becomes an hindrance, as most bands are then stuck in a corner with a tag around their necks like a noose! With Phantom it’s been a little different, no one seems to be able to place us anywhere, so much so that Phantom just sparked a new word to come out of journos / reviewers mouths: “Gloomgaze”….and I kind of like it.

Jonny Martin - Phantom
Jonny Martin

Elsie, you’ve been called ‘the female Morrissey’. How do you feel about that?

It’s a little strange and also incredibly flattering. Morrissey is a legend and I absolutely adore him! There’s no doubt he’s influenced me somehow; his music and his mottos have such an huge impact on my life. He’s also an enigma and it fascinates me…perhaps the reviewer who suggested we are similar might have seen me as enigmatic more than anything else?

These seem to be dark times – does the music reflect that?

The music reflects how I feel, it paints a picture of the little demons that sit on my shoulder and taunt me at times. If these were prosperous times my insecurities would still be there to haunt me. Making music is how I exorcise them.

Will you be out touring in support of this?

Absolutely, we’re looking for out of London dates in and around the UK and Europe. Our budget, unfortunately, restricts us a fair bit in terms of touring, but we’re trying to make it a priority to play to crowds outside of London as much as possible. I love seeing new places, and I reckon if we ever went on a long tour, I would be very productive writing on the road.

What do you want to achieve with the album?

I’d like to get the Phantom name out there and open a path for darker experimental music to reach bigger audiences, to become more accessible.

Am planning an EP for early next year, and I’d like to see it in the charts! Aim high as they say…

So, why should people buy ‘The Great Pretender’ or come see a Phantom show?

Our live shows have been the talk of the town…so come and see why. As for the “Great Pretender” single it’s a limited edition and it’s our first baby..need I say more?!

‘The Great Pretender’ is out now.

Photograph Copyright© 2009 C.J. Osborne


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