Interview: Phantom Atlantic

Published on 25 October 2021 at 09:18

1: How did you decide on the name, “Phantom Atlantic"?

We’d been going back-and-forth for ages trying to find the right name - no lie, we had a running list of hundreds of options. At some point, Ryan molded Phantom Atlantic together from something he’d found in a book. The phonetics felt nice, and there was something sort of mysterious and evocative about it that we liked. We eventually cut the list down to about three or four front-runners and it ended up being the winner.

2: What inspires you to create?

Honestly, anything and everything. Personal experience, conversations, philosophy, movies; the list goes on. We try not to write about the same thing or from the same place all the time because that would bore us pretty fast. We do tend to be particularly inspired by the darker shades of life, though, and our writing often circles around the search for authenticity in a world that can seem anything but that.

3: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a creative profession?

  1. Create for yourself first, and others second. 
  2. Work hard and be persistent, even when the rejection (you will receive it) and self-doubt (you will encounter it) become difficult to handle. In our experience, the highest highs often come immediately after the lowest lows, so let the excitement of the peaks carry you through the valleys.

4: Do you feel open minded about what you listen to? Do you like going out of your comfort zone?

Definitely - and even if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have much of a choice! The four of us usually have such different music tastes from each other that it’s almost impossible to be close-minded. Scrolling through our group chat, you’d find everything from Architects to Rina Sawayama to Nothing but Thieves to Sade. In general, we just try to consume as much as possible because you never know what you’ll hear that will spark your next idea or help you break through the wall of a song that you’re stuck on.

5: What outlets do you find out about music from? (Record stores, magazines, samplers, etc.)

Ryan: Oh wow, tons of places. The four of us are probably each other’s biggest source of discovery. We share a lot of music around. But as much as I try to resist the pull of an algorithm-driven life, I’ve found out about so many great bands from Spotify recommendations. Declan McKenna, for instance, popped up on my Discovery Weekly one day and he’s now a favourite of mine. Outlets like yours are also a great source. Often when we’re shared on blog round-ups or the like, we’ll check out some of the other bands listed - I just found a song called “Red” by Francis of Delirium this way that I love. 

6: What is your favorite format to listen to music on? (CD, Vinyl, etc.)

The warmth and depth of vinyl are undeniable, and we’re of the CD generation so there’s definitely nostalgia there. But most of us are guilty of following the herd into the streaming-only world because it’s just so convenient. Jeff, our bassist, has been singing the praises of Tidal though because they have the HD tier that preserves more of the quality of the original song file. We try to put a lot of detail in our production so we’re excited that most of the other major players in the streaming space are moving in the same direction.

7: What band/artist do you think everyone should listen to?

Kyle: Khruangbin. They’re not new but it blows my mind that I’ve only recently discovered them. I’ll admit it. Anyway, fantastic!

Ryan: A Norweigan band called MEER is my favourite recent find, thanks to Jeff. They’re progressive like Radiohead and cinematic/orchestral like Sigur Ros, but also not afraid to get heavy. Really incredible songwriting that’s surprisingly accessible for how complex it is.

Jeff: I would definitely recommend a band called Night Verses.  They're an instrumental 3 piece and they just really kick ass.  Unique AF.

Ken: Coeur de Pirate recently put out a beautiful instrumental piano album called Perséides. It's a serene and relaxing colle\ction of music to unwind to.

8: What motivates you to check out a new artist?

Before the pandemic when we were playing a fair bit, the number one thing that made us dig deeper on a band was a killer live show. Now, it’s typically recommendations from friends, other bands, and each other that get artists on our radar.

9: Who was the first band/artist that became your favorite band?

Kyle: Nirvana. Likely one of my earliest memories of music was jumping around to Nevermind. I would fall asleep to Bleach in high school and “Territorial Pissings” was the song that literally cured my depression for 2 minutes and 23 seconds. It was on repeat.

Ryan: In fourth grade, I discovered rock music after a kid at school lent me a copy of blink-182’s Enema of the State. That bloomed into an obsession that ended in me being voted “Most likely to be the next Tom DeLonge” at my grad ceremony… had to dial it back after that. But the most formative for me was Coldplay. Around the time the Viva la Vida album came out, I ended up at their show with a friend who was a fan. It blew me away. I left knowing that the band road was the only one I wanted to take.

Jeff: It took me a while to figure out what I was into when I was kid.  I definitely crushed through some Bon Jovi and Aerosmith albums, even a little Coolio....but I was always looking for something with a little more edge to it.  Nirvana was sort of a gateway drug for me and it just got heavier from there.  In the 7th grade, I discovered Korn and Deftones and I would rock my silver Panasonic Shockwave with 10 seconds anti-skip in the school yard with their early albums on repeat feeling like I would someday own the world. It was just so powerful and it motivates me to this day.

Ken: Judging the chronology by the technology, my first favourite band must have been The Offspring. I had the Smash album on cassette tape and would listen to that album front-to-back, over and over, like I was on a mission to wear out the magnetic strip.

10: What was the inspiration for your song “Start From Nothing”?

Kyle: ‘Start from Nothing’ is probably the song that developed most organically on the EP we just released, ‘Your View of a Former Me.’ It came about at a time that I’d made a commitment to myself to take more responsibility for the way my actions were affecting people around me. In that light, the song became one about choosing to step out of the tangled mess that lies create and attempting to reconfigure the aspects of your own personality that haven’t been doing you any favours.


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