Los Angeles duo Phantoms have drawn comparisons to Disclosure for their glossy, funk-infused brand of electro pop, but they find the resemblance somewhat skin deep.
“It’s always great to be compared to them as we’re fans and have a lot of respect,” they say. “But we find that comparison usually comes because we are also two guys making dance music that put our effort into playing live as opposed to DJing.”
Phantoms’ Kyle Kaplan and Vinnie Pergola tread edgier territory on their new Broken Halo EP, whose title track’s upbeat throb barely masks Nicholas Braun’s lyrics on numbness and alienation. Other standouts include dreamy confessional cut “All In” — buoyed by arresting vocals from Little Know — and the seductive (yet slightly sinister) “Voyeur,” also featuring Braun.
Listen to the full stream of Phantoms’ Broken Halo EP on Billboard:
Billboard caught up with the outfit to discuss their origins and latest release.
What’s your backstory? How did Phantoms come to be?
We first met in the acting community in L.A. as teenagers, but we’ve always had music in our lives as a hobby whether it was playing terrible classic rock covers in the garage or DJing around L.A. when we discovered electronic music. Phantoms was our DJ duo’s name. We would play weird 18+ nightclubs and sketchy warehouse parties. It was an exciting and kind of grimy time in the L.A. electronic scene. Even though we perform in suits now, we try to keep some of that spirit alive.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
We pull influences from a lot of different types of acts, from darker techno stuff like Daniel Avery to pop acts like The Weeknd. Both of us also have a background in funk because of our families: Kyle’s uncle played keys for Michael Jackson and Vinnie’s dad played guitar in different funk bands his whole life. Also, being in our mid-twenties we are super intrigued by the many types of characters you meet on a night out. We love writing songs through the perspective of these people whether it be happy, sad, or both. Mix all of that together and somehow Phantoms comes out of it.
What was your creative process on the Broken Halo EP?
Writing the EP was a huge learning experience because we got to experiment with writing within the pop structure for the first time. It was something we challenged ourselves with from the start because we were getting a bit bored of writing instrumental electronic tracks. Even though the songs are structured for pop, we still try to inject some darkness into them. A song like “Broken Halo” may sound positive on the surface, but it is written through the perspective of a guy who is definitely dealing with some demons. Writing the songs through the eyes of a very specific person made the songs more personal to us, and will hopefully make them more personal to the listener, too.
I know you recorded the EP at FAMILY, talk a bit about that and the role the L.A. creative scene has played in your career.
The FAMILY space was an amazing place to work because it’s such a diverse group of people working under the same roof. The music scene in L.A. has changed a lot over the years. It is hard to tell where it even stands now. That’s why it’s invaluable to have this great group of artist friends who are working on music that is really true to who they are. We were never really into the idea of chasing a trendy genre, so to work alongside guys like Ho99o9 or Hundred Waters who have completely carved out their own sound is really inspiring.
Phantoms’ Broken Halo EP is now available through Casablanca/Republic Records, and can be purchased on iTunes.