Experimental indie rock can take many forms and they’re not always from where you think. Take Fantasmes, for example. Based out of Puerto Rico, you’d maybe guess they’d have more of a regional influence… and if you guessed those influences were psychedelic experimentalism, you’d be correct. Fantasmes create music best suited to a more chill attitude with their latest, Redness Moon. What makes them even more impressive is their modest make-up, consisting of duo Mario Negron and Darío Morales. I was recently able to catch up with Darío and here’s what he had to say…
Violent Success: Your music has a coy factor to it. It’s alluring and yet aloof, sometimes hard for the listener grasp onto anything, but teasing into a groove before breaking apart again. How does your listener factor into your musical process? Is it for yourself or your audience or both?
Darío Morales: It’s for both, and we think of ourselves as both. What we do is certainly something we want to listen to and it comes from both our artistic needs and worries. We also think that we are not alone in these needs and worries, and that just as we are carried away by our music there are many who are willing to be carried away by it as well. We are listeners when we create and we work to satisfy ourselves as listeners.
VS: You hail from Puerto Rico and seem deeply influenced by American psychedelic, especially on your latest album Redness Moon. How did this influence come about? Do your Puerto Rican roots factor into your sound as well?
DM: We were both exposed and were inclined towards psychedelic music since an early age through family, school, friends, and our genes. We have many influences from psychedelic music from all over the world. The United States certainly was and is a big home to many great psychedelic acts to which we were more likely to be exposed to. We learned a lot from British psychedelia; we are very big Beatles fans, of their subtleties, excesses, and spot-on creations. We also learned a lot from Can’s and Neu’s krautrock in Germany, Os Mutantes’ tropicalism in Brazil, Los Saicos, Los Yetis, and Los Flippers’ garage in South America, Amanaz’s psychedelia in Zambia, Africa and many others from all around. Here in Puerto Rico we have a psychedelic past as well and our surroundings greatly influence our work. Our Puerto Rican roots can be heard all over the album, although maybe not in the expected way.
VS: There is a very spiritual vibe to your work. Would you consider it spiritual, maybe even beyond? If so, how does this spirituality translate between studio and stage?
DM: Ritual is very important to Fantasmes and each of us gives it its own spiritual sense. When we create and record we aim for our work to flow, and we aim to capture it some way or another through our recordings and sound. We work with the mind-altering properties of sound and music, which might prove to be spiritual. On stage we aim to do the very same thing: treat it as a ritual as well.
VS: Where is the best place to listen to the entirety of Redness Mood? Describe your perfect musical oasis for this album.
DM: Any setting that proves helpful towards acquiring a proper state of mind in which the listener actually listens and feels, may it be their living room or their car, whichever works for them, is the perfect musical oasis. For us, our own armchair at Casa Fantasmes with dimmed lights and no distractions.
VS: What kind of atmosphere was this album born out of? Was it a challenge to pin your sound to definite tracks?
DM: It came from Casa Fantasmes, which is both our home and workspace. Here we found the space to flow as needed. We worked on our own creative world, mostly in private. It was very intimate. All our tracks reflect some aspect or another of our sound; they all lean towards a particular sound and we work with what we have to achieve it, not needing much but knowing and using all that we’ve got.
VS: Though Redness Moon recently released, what is on the horizon for Fantasmes?
DM: We want to travel and play live wherever it’s possible; live performances complete Fantasmes. We will be touring some cities in the Northeast from November 3rd to the 14th. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC… and we certainly want more of these to happen… *Wink to booking agents. At home, we want to establish Casa Fantasmes in Santurce, Puerto Rico as a proper space for creation, sound being our main point of perspective. When we have more time, we want to continue collecting old Puerto Rican psychedelic music, find out more about it, and do something with it.
VS: In no particular order, name the top five albums that have influenced you most throughout your musical career and why.
DM: Spacemen 3’s Playing with Fire taught me about pace. The Velvet Underground and Nico showed me presence. Amon Düül’s Psychedelic Underground showed me space. Os Mutantes’ Os Mutantes presented culture. The Final Solution’s The Final Solution showed me a past.
VS: Finally, when writing a song/record, who or what do you typically find yourself thinking of most?
DM: I try not to think of anything that’s not related to what’s being done. I do think of the overall listening experience and of what needs to be said.