CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your music, what would it be and why?
PH: Lo-fi Jangle Dreamgaze. We combine elements of dream pop, janglepop, shoegaze; and we record everything ourselves using lo-fi recording techniques.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
PH: We draw inspiration from the immediacy, intimacy and experimentation that comes from home recording. Hearing a simple, beautifully arranged pop song, wondering how that song was made and wanting to channel that into our own ideas.
CH.89: What made you want to start a music project and how did you come up with the name?
PH: With no live shows, a quarantine-imposed home recording session led to a fruitful collaboration through file sharing. Phantom Handshakes was the moniker Matt was using for his (long defunct) solo recordings. The name seemed to fit the situation perfectly.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new album?
PH: We are still a new project, so our main thought process for this new album was to simply continue recording and creating music together and to hopefully make it sound better production-wise than our previous release.
CH.89: What would you want people/ the listener to take from your music?
PH: We would like people to listen to our music in their rooms on headphones and to imagine being taken somewhere else, perhaps to a secret world, or inside a scene from a favorite childhood movie. Also, we’d like listeners to dance in their rooms by themselves while listening to our album without any inhibitions or embarrassment.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
PH: We don’t consider ourselves artists. Making music for us is our personal creative outlet that we are thankful to share with anyone interested in listening.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
PH: For this project we worked more on impulse. An idea for a song would form, we’d record it and see where it goes. No grand plan or concept.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist?
PH: Try to stay creative and open to new ideas. Be willing to compromise when collaborating. If an idea isn’t working it’s ok to scrap it. There’s more ideas where that came from.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
PH: Not necessarily. We have a particular aesthetic that filters into our music. We both make visuals to accompany our music and our own taste in music is definitely reflected in the songs we write.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
PH: The hardest part of any creative process is simply finding the drive, inspiration and motivation to complete a project.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
PH: All the free artist perks.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?
PH: Many artists and musicians inspire us. Fiona Apple comes immediately to mind. How she created her recent album completely on her own terms without any outside influence or pressure. How she was able to collaborate with her friends and still make an artistic statement that was completely and uniquely hers.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
PH: All of our music and videos were made by us using our respective home computers and simple recording gear. Professional-level music and video production programs are now easily accessible and relatively affordable. We didn’t have access to a recording studio, so having these tools available to us was an essential tool and Phantom Handshakes probably wouldn’t exist if we didn’t have them.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
PH: Not really. Everyone views the world differently and whether they follow a creative path or not their worldview informs everything they do.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
PH: Yes, some of our favorite cities we’ve been able to visit are Reykjavik, Lisboa, London, Amsterdam, Paris, New Orleans, Austin, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo. We hope to travel soon and maybe play music in some of these cities.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
PH: I mostly read modern fiction. I’ve enjoyed books by John Irving, Jeffrey Eugenides, Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Paul Beatty. Federica’s favorite author is Haruki Murakami.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your music?
PH: We hope to keep writing, recording and releasing new music and we plan on performing the songs from our albums live this summer, hopefully.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
PH: Being a musician and songwriter means having some kind of outlet and medium for creative expression, even if it’s only for our own personal fulfillment.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your music?
PH: Our music is a long, warm late summer day that turns chillier at night, but not too chilly; just chilly enough where you might want to throw on a cardigan.