Mindy Lucas

Dream pop duo Phantogram bringing beats to Charleston Music Farm

Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter of Phantogram will play at Charleston's Music Farm on June 26.
Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter of Phantogram will play at Charleston's Music Farm on June 26.

When it comes to being creative, Phantogram’s Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel are decidedly outside mainstream musical margins. 

"We make limitless music. That's what I love about what we do," Carter said. 

The upstate New Yorkers have been making beat-heavy dream pop since forming in 2007 under the name Charlie Everywhere. Their music is a genre-bending mashup of overlapping sounds with an urban edge. Barthel’s airy vocals often float over walls of sound created by textured rhythms, swirling guitars and spacey echoes. 

In their videos, the duo is equally spasmodic.

The hit single "Black Out Days" from Phantogram's latest album, "Voices," for example, features psychedelic light patterns, gold body paint, a man smashing animal skulls and a child petting a live wolf, among other oddities. 

"There's no such thing as thinking outside the box for us, because there is no box," Carter said. 

Phantogram will bring its aural and audio specialties to the Music Farm in Charleston on June 26. 

"Fans can expect a lot of energy and emotion and a really loud show with sick lights," Carter said. "It's an experience for sure."

Carter and Barthel's creative control extends to a finely-tuned light show, complete with geometric patterns and multiple mirrors set up on stage to reflect them. 

The strength of Phantogram lies in Carter's and Barthel's ability to combine sounds in a way that is exciting and purposeful.

In 2012, their skills caught the attention of Outkast member Big Boi, who enlisted the duo's help on his solo album "Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors." The band's music was also featured on TV shows, such as CW's "The Originals," and the soundtrack to "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." They've played twice on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and most recently on "The Late Show With David Letterman."

For their second LP, "Voices," Carter said he and Barthel began their writing process with strict boundaries for what they wanted, but quickly decided to toss their guidelines to the wind. 

"That was getting frustrating to try to go for something super specific, so we said, 'Screw it, let's just make music that we like,' " he said. "It ended up coming out really natural and organic."

The result is a handful of striking singles like "Nothing but Trouble," "Black Out Days" and "Fall in Love."

Phantogram will be touring down the East Coast before heading to Europe and Australia on tour. 

"It feels like its been a while since we've been down South," said Carter, who used to vacation on Hilton Head Island as a kid. "I'm always excited to see new places," he said, adding that he's happy to be return to the familiar Lowcountry, too. 

Follow Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw. 

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