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Phantogram, the R&B electronica duo consisting of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, has an illustrious career behind and still in front of them. The duo is known for making some incredible beats and songs such as “Black Out Days”, “When I’m Small”, Fall In Love”, and the list goes on. On their new LP entitled Ceremony, out now, the duo keeps pushing boundaries, experimenting with new sounds, and throwing it back with samples of old ones. 

We talk the duo about what keeps them together, how they have evolved, and how MNDR and Billy Corgan lent a helping hand to Ceremony


How has your R&B/electronica sound deepened the bond between the two of you?

Josh Carter: Forming a band together has deepened our relationship in general. Not only to be good friends but to do everything together and we share a major passion for making music together. I think it made our relationship much stronger.

Sarah Barthel: Yea, we are partners in crime.


How have you evolved since 2010’s Eyelid movies—personally and professionally?

SB: We evolved pretty organically. I definitely think we’ve grown since our previous years. Personally–it’s just from experience from living life and growing.


Your videos seem to have a lot of meaning behind them. Do you go into the process of video making with that intent?

SB: We want everything we put our hands on to have meaning. 

JC: We want to have meaning in our videos and even in our songs and to be cerebral with anything specific. The viewer or listener could draw their own conclusions.

Ceremony sounds like a departure and more upbeat from your last album Three. What inspired that?

SB: I wouldn’t say upbeat. It’s traditional Phantogram, but a there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s all kind of bittersweet. It feels like most of the beats are most upbeat, but the lyrics are dark as normal.

JC: It may feel a bit lighter because of certain things that were going on, put a certain weight on the last album. This is just another Phantogram album. We try to do different things all the time. That’s what I love about being in this band. We do anything we want and we don’t feel like we have any restrictions or limitations on our sound.


Two songs—“Dear God” and “Love Me Now”—off the new project, both sound like throwbacks. Who did you sample? 

JC: We sampled “Every time I See My Baby” by the Delfonics for “Love Me Now”. We sampled an old school obscure Ohio soul group for “Dear God”. 


I know you worked on “Pedestal” with EDM producer MNDR and that Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) helped co-write a few songs on Ceremony

SB: She helped us finish it. Billy Corgan collaborated on a couple songs as well.

JC: We wrote parts of our songs with him–“Into Happiness” and “Love Me Now”. He actually plays the guitar solo on “Love Me Now”. He was a big fan of ours for several years now and reached out to us. 


You are involved in the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. By getting involved in this foundation helped to cope with your sister Becky’s suicide?

SB: It’s definitely a coping mechanism. Giving back is healing and being able to help is very healing. I think it’s our role and our job to use our voices that we are lucky enough to have to support and spread awareness and fight the stigma. 


Any albums that you are looking forward to hearing that will be coming out?

JC: Phoebe Bridgers. I just heard her album about two days ago. She’s apparently putting out new music soon. The next Big Boi record.


What’s next?

JC: We already did a full U.S. tour because the album was supposed to be out. Clearing samples, politics, etc. delayed the album release. We keep on working on new music.



story /Robert Frezza
photos / Shervin Lainez
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