20 Questions: Phantogram

Being America’s premiere sample-based psych-pop group certainly has its advantages.

Aside from having an extremely distinctive sound, becoming tourmates with the likes of the Antlers, the xx, and Minus the Bear, and getting much love from the likes of ?uestlove and OutKast’s Big Boi, Phantogram (a NYC-based duo consisting of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel) has had one simple problem that all bands eventually want to have: having too much music to release. The group’s historic 2009 saw it putting out its debut album Eyelid Movies on Barsuk Records, along with two additional EPs. Phantogram’s 2011 ended with it releasing a highly-regarded six-track mini-LP called Nightlife, which showed the group taking cues from the now-prominent chillwave movement, albeit on its own terms.

To help celebrate Nightlife‘s success and the tour that followed, Josh Carter took some time to sit down with PopMatters and answer the famed 20 Questions, here revealing a rather strong affinity for the works of Charlie Kaufman, a desire to travel through dimensions, and lists no more than 15 different discs that could potentially qualify as “the greatest album ever” in his mind . . .

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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

The stories of Breece D’J Pancake.

2. The fictional character most like you?

[No answer given.]

3. The greatest album, ever?

Some of my favorites: the Beatles’ White Album, Revolver, or Sgt. Pepper, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, the Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Radiohead’s OK Computer, the Cure’s Disintegration, Why?’s Eskimo Snow, Can’s Tago Nago, the Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers, J.Dilla’s Donuts, the Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, OutKast’s Stankonia . . . too many to list.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars for the story line . . . Star Trek (the original) for the music.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Coffee and cigarettes.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Making music for a living, because there’s nothing I’d rather do.

7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?

[Being] someone who had a vision.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

Charlie Kaufman, John Lennon, Stanley Kubrick, Madlib.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

The written screenplay for the film Adaptation.

10. Your hidden talents . . . ?

I can do a kickflip on a skateboard.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Big Boi told me to have more confidence in myself. He said, “Dope is dope.”

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

A Tascam four-track tape machine. My parents bought it for me.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?

I feel best with whatever I decide to go with for the day.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Jesus Christ.

15. Time travel: where, when, and why?

Right now, in another dimension.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?


17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?

Coffee in the morning, cigarettes throughout the day, vodka at night.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Warm, sunny, beach.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

“Hey, what happened?”

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?