Interview: The geeks of Phantom

Last weekend we met the lovely people around the Finnish band Phantom for a very late breakfast with eggs, banana bread and goat cheese all over the place. We spoke about high-fives, airplanes, no make-up and being Finnish. Also a lot of technical details were explained about the UFO and the Kinect visuals, something I will not bore the PonyDanceClyde readers with (though they are interesting). Afterwards we went for a little stroll and took a few silly pictures. Check out our album on Facebook for more!

PDC: So… Let’s start with your story, how did you meet?
Hanna: We met at a co-working space in Espoo, Finland, called Aalto Venture Garage. I was in the summer start-ups programme and Tommi was sitting there drinking a coffee and working on his laptop. Then my coach said: “Hey that’s Tommi from AudioDraft, you should go talk to him”. We probably talked for about 15 minutes about real stuff and then we just started talking about bands we like. We were like NOISIA! Fuck yeah! High-five! I remember that. 

PDC: What about the companies you started up?
Tommi: I am a co-founder of AudioDraft, which actually already started up in 2009. It is about crowdsourcing music and sound design from a huge global user community. So for example, a film studio or game company can go the website and leave an assignment and then the designers can compete for the work.
Hanna: Mine is a bit newer, I am a co-founder of the Mukava Music project and we started last summer. It’s a geo-located music discovery service where you can intelligently discover new music. So it will recommend you new music based on your activity in social media. You can also see what is being listened to in the whole world, for example in a certain street in Berlin.  

PDC: How did you decide to make music together? Hanna has a jazz background and Tommi electro, how did you think of mixing those?
Hanna: I was actually really interested in the electro scene and I wanted to learn how to produce, so I asked Tommi if he could teach me something. Haha! That’s how it started.
Tommi: Yeah, we actually didn’t get into that, but we produced some tracks in the late summer of 2011 and one if them is now on the Scars EP. We didn’t have any time to keep on working on that during the fall, until Hanna called me in December that there was a chance to have a gig at SXSW.
Hanna: I was actually supposed to go to SXSW with my jazz EP, but then I went to Australia and composed Scars in an airplane. And when it was finished I thought: Shit… his is not jazz. Haha! So I called Tommi and I said: “wanna go to Texas?”

PDC: You just started less than 6 months ago and things seem to have gone pretty quickly for you. How do you think that happened?
Tommi: A lot of random things. After releasing the Scars EP we had a few successful shows at SXSW and we made the video for Scars. After that it seemed to fade out, because we didn’t have a lot of time. Until Ja Ja Ja Music blogged about us and 2 days after The xx posted our video. Then we got featured on Pitchfork and once something is out on Pitchfork, it’s everywhere. Then we realised there was some potential. 

PDC: Tell us more about the magical UFO! How did that start? What are your future plans with it?
Tommi: It started as my solo project at the university of arts and design. I wanted to create a device that actually helps me perform my music. I had been doing a lot of gigs with Kitkaliitto, my other band, and mostly it’s turning knobs and pushing pads and it gets kind of geeky. You want to do something more than that. So I wanted to create a device I could perform with – grandly. I am planning to make a next version of it soon to develop it further, re-tune and re-fine it. A lot of people have been asking about it and so I think it has lot of commercial potential, but for now it’s just for us. 

PDC: Technology seems to have a big part in Phantom. You also have a live Kinect-VJ on stage with you, Julius. How did this happen?
Hanna: Again we met at Venture Garage, we had a meeting about SXSW and Julius had heard the Scars draft.
Julius: Yes, I knew I was going there as well and I have a little company called Delicode that works with the Kinect. We do a lot of experimental stuff, but it worked out to be a real program and because it is in real-time I thought it would enhance the show.
Tommi: Actually if we wouldn’t have these different elements and it would be just me geeking on the laptop and Hanna singing… it would be kind of a boring show.
Hanna: Yes and in the future the Kinect visuals will probably be hand gestured, so I can control them.
Julius: And maybe even by the crowd, who knows!
Hanna: Also I think it’s pretty cool that our video was made with an xBox Kinect camera in 4 hours in some storage room. I actually had a really high fever and wasn’t wearing any make-up, but luckily you can’t see any of that. 

PDC: Tell us about the music scene in Finland.
Hanna: I think it is kind of fragmented. A lot of musicians are afraid to bring out their music, or they don’t know how to use the internet that well. About 80% of the published music is in Finnish and they are still going from label to label giving out demos. As an artist you want to reach your audience at the right moment and people think they need someone else to do this for them, but you don’t.
Tommi: Thinking of the right channels can be quite challenging. I know so many bands with great music and also good videos, yet they still aren’t discovered.
Julius: I think the difference between these guys and your average Finnish bands is the fact that Hanna and Tommi both know social media so well. 

PDC: So far you’ve only released one EP. Can we expect an album any time soon?
Hanna: Uhm… yes… First we’re gonna release an 7″ with Scars and then we will be working on a long play this summer… so you’ll see!
Tommi: Yes. It’s coming out when it’s done.
Hanna: Haha! Yes! That is such a Finnish thing to say. 

Kiitos Phantom! It was lovely to meet you guys and I wish you all the best in the future! Pony readers: if you have a chance to see a live show of these guys, I recommend you to take it!

Julia steht auf schwitzige Rockkonzerte, Whiskey und blutige Steaks. Sie braucht jede Nacht mindestens achteinhalb Stunden Schlaf und mindestens zehn Minuten um einen ironischen Witz zu verstehen.

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