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Catching up with electro-pop duo Phantogram


Phantogram Credit: Phantogram

Songs that caught the ear of Big Boi from Outkast, that ended up in commercials and on the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack and that made up set lists at Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza were produced not in a multimillion-dollar studio, but in a barn in Saratoga Springs.

Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, known to a growing fan base as the moody electro-pop duo Phantogram, sound as at ease on the Outkast MC’s most recent album as they do on their own EPs and soundtrack contributions, all of which are building toward the 2014 release of the duo’s second full-length album.

amNewYork caught up with Carter and Barthel before the duo’s show at Terminal 5.

What did you take away from working with Big Boi?

Josh Carter: What I took musically was a little different approach to some of my production work. It was definitely influenced by that dirty South sound.

Sarah Barthel: It blew us away to find out that he was even a fan, so hanging out down there and them asking Josh how he produces because they are so in awe of the sound, it built our confidence up a lot. It was another element to knowing that we’re doing something right, different and unique.

What’s the difference between the upcoming album and the Phantogram that started in a barn in Saratoga Springs?

JC: It’s a natural progression of the Phantogram “sound.” I say that with quote marks, because I don’t feel like our sound can be pigeonholed. [The new album] is louder and more bombastic, with a little more polish. … My beat making is more of an extension of what I’ve been doing. There’s more 808 [drum machine], which creates a newer texture. And Sarah’s vocals are even more soulful sounding.

What’s the worst part about recording in a barn?

SB: It can get really, really cold. Freezing, actually. You have to wait for it to heat up, for a half-hour, with nowhere else to hang out.

JC: It can get hot, too, in the summers.

If you go: Phantogram performs at Terminal 5 on Wednesday at 8 p.m., 610 W. 56th St., 212-582-6600, $25.

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