LA duo PHANTOMS talk new album ahead of Splash House date in Palm Springs

LA electronic duo PHANTOMS release sophomore album This Can’t Be Everything today, following up their 2017 self-titled debut. Phantoms’ Kyle Kaplan and Vinnie Pergola have been eager to release their new material, turning to creativity and getting in their heads during the world shutdown and cannot wait to play live for fans again. Having signed to ODESZA’s label Foreign Family Collective earlier this year, the pair will soon play an August 21 date at Palm Springs three-day pool festival Splash House and they also head back to Las Vegas on September 17 for Life Is Beautiful Festival, among other dates.

With their touring schedule back for much of the summer, PHANTOMS have been releasing a number of singles off the album throughout 2022 including two featuring UK vocalist Jem Cook, “Lay It All On Me” and “Only You”, with the latter done as a collaboration with Big Wild. Producer Big Wild is also featured on “Firepit” and PHANTOMS’ title track is another standout of personal tracks, created largely when everyone was stuck at home. The guys head to Margaritaville Resort next week for SoCal’s electronic dance music rite of passage in Palm Springs, Splash House, joining a host of other talents including Elderbrook, MALAA and many more at the Saguaro and Renaissance like Noizu, Solardo, Jungle, Sonny Fodera, Kyle Watson, Neil Frances and Biscits.

Photo by Collin J Black

We played twice before, and each time it’s really fun”, said Pergola. “The 2nd time we did it we did the afterparty at the Air Museum, it’s a lot cooler, the stage is in front of this airplane. For this one, we are doing a DJ set on Sunday which will be awesome. I always tell people in LA to come if they haven’t been”.

The rays will not be the only hotness to come next weekend, as PHANTOMS have a knack for slick electro-house balancing beats and production while framing vocals like artists Rufus Du Sol, JUNGLE, Porter Robinson and Neil Frances whether it’s Kyle singing on tracks like “Letting Me Go” or “Do You Want My Love?” or the other talented vocalists they collaborate with. “I started singing on tracks when we did “Cocaine” and it’s something we started doing”, said Kaplan. “Vinnie sings as well, to fill it out a little bit. It took me a while when we first started doing that, ’cause I did some musical theater when I was younger and I had to figure it out”.

Early on, the guys previously released hits like the pulsating “Just A Feeling” featuring VÉRITÉ and “Pulling Me In” as well as tracks like “Someone To Talk About” featuring Grace Mitchell and “Lay Me Up” featuring Vanessa Hudgens.

“We are always looking for singers”, shared Kaplan. “A lot of the time our manager Paul Cunningham is really good and knows exactly what we want. Usually we send a list of people we have our eye on, some of them are really unattainable, but he is able to bring stuff to the table. We went on a writing trip to London and he hooked us up with Jem Cooke. The way we normally work, we don’t like to write around toplines, we like to write together with the people we are working with. We have to do that, for us it’s really important. We absolutely loved it, working with her. Big Wild we toured with a long time ago, he’s been a big friend of ours. The pandemic gave us a lot of time and we reached out to him and sent him a bunch of songs”.

It was “Just A Feeling” that really put PHANTOMS on the map, back in 2017, standing up arguably as one of the best dance tracks of the last decade. It’s got that uplifting, liberating element while also being a bit of a sad song.

“That’s the way we love to write”, said Pergola. “To write a sad song and write a dance track. That new deadmau5 song with Kaskade [“Escape” featuring Hayla] is kind of somber. There’s emotion to it. Just ’cause it’s dance music doesn’t mean it doesn’t have emotions”.

Perhaps this speaks to PHANTOMS’ instincts as creators and artists, both were actually child actors in LA, who met in their teens. They had a classic rock band, got bitten by the electronic bug as it was gaining momentum in Los Angeles in the early 2010s and they noticed a cultural shift that they completely identified with and participated in.

‘Vinnie and I first met around LA, we were both kind of young, like 15 years old, just around the actor kid days, Disney shows, nothing that big and we immediately became friends”, said Kaplan. “We did a garage band Upstart Crow, and it wasn’t until we discovered Justice at The Fonda with DJ Mehdi and The Juggernauts and we completely fell in love and we were like we need to figure out how to do this. Ableton existed but it was a bit of a learning curve. Vinnie started learning how to make music and I learned how to DJ. There was a club in LA called The Heist and DJ AM played and early Steve Aoki and we would get these early slots and we were called Phantoms. As we got better at production and made the kind of music we wanted to make, that’s when we started to take the music seriously and not just DJing around town with some weird, shitty remixes. We started to take the music side of it very seriously”.

Photo credit Foreign Family

The guys talked about the moment right before the explosion of EDM in America, finding inspiration in acts like Justice and Kavinsky and Ed Banger artists coming to the region often, including a lot of French house acts. “There’s such a sexiness to it, it sounds more thin and less bass”, recalls Pergola.

Kaplan added, “I remember, we started shooting some video content for Dim Mak and we were underage and we got to go into Cinespace and watched Mr. OIZO and Daft Punk play a Prince song. The days of Banana Split Sundaes. Everybody was coming here, it felt very punk rock here and it was the first time you saw that, like way-before-trance, like Tiesto”.

The album title This Can’t Be Everything sounds kind of deep and thoughtful, speaking to unfinished business, dreams and aspirations and everyone’s goals while being locked away during the pandemic. PHANTOMS really bottled up the thoughts and emotions into a thematic project with some truly timeless house tracks, with alluring vocals and rushes of energy.

Photo credit Foreign Family

“When we started writing the record, not to go too much into the pandemic talk, but we were all in a weird headspace”, recalled Kaplan. “It just took so long to get back to some normalcy. One day would be really grim and then there’d be a day where we wrote two tracks together. We wrote almost this whole album in our apartment. This Can’t Be Everything made us think about what is the purpose of this when we are locked in a room, can we go out? We were kind of running with that. A lot of the other songs came together and we saw this body of work coming together. We are just really excited to have this body of work out this year and touring. It’s definitely the most personal album we made. A lot of it just came from Vinnie and I. Everything just finds its way to the right ears. We hope to do it justice in a live way. Fans or newer people, some of the sounds of this album are a little bit different for us, it’s a little bit brighter, with the guitars and drums and stuff we haven’t used before”.

Splash House’s first August weekend is happening now and PHANTOMS play next weekend, August 21. GA tickets are $159.00 – $219.00 with combo passes ranging from $199.00 – $264.00