A couple hours before Phantogram hit the Outdoor Stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday night, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter of the trip-hop duo took a chat break in a beer-stocked trailer in VIP. The band, discovered in 2009 on MySpace, now has three albums under its belt, including last year’s “Three,” along with a notable experimental hip-hop collaboration in 2015 with Outkast’s Big Boi under the name Big Grams. Despite their online origin story, Carter is quick to point to their decade-long road to success. “We’re not some kind of internet buzz band that’s just the flavor of the week,” says Carter, who plays guitar and sings in the band, formerly dubbed Charlie Everywhere. Adds Barthel, a keyboardist and vocalist, “Every step of the way – like playing with Questlove on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and performing at Madison Square Garden — has been like, ‘Holy s–t, that’s awesome.’”
PROVENANCE: Greenwich, New York
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: The two — who met in junior high — define their relationship as “best friends,” despite their palpable chemistry and ability to finish each other’s sentences. “I think our friendship is really key,” says Carter, who credits their “love for each other” as the secret to keeping the band together. “If we have any disagreements, we get over them pretty easily,” he adds.
COACHELLA VIBE: “It’s pretty much the first festival you start with for festival season. It’s kind of like popping the cork on a Champagne bottle, and the weather is great, everyone’s in high spirits, everyone’s stoked about Coachella,” says Carter, who also performed here with Barthel in 2011.
MOST MEMORABLE SHOW: “We did a tour with Muse last year and we got to play a huge-ass arena, The 02 Arena [in London], five nights in a row in front of over 80,000 people in a week. That’s just so massive,” muses Barthel.
ROAD DOG: Teacup pup, Leroy, named after Jim Croce’s song “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.” “He’s our savior. He takes care of us,” says Barthel of their chic pet, styled in stripes.
FAVE FAN GIFTS: “They make us art a lot. They’re all good. They’re just f——g weird,” says Barthel of their admirers. Case in point: “One guy gave me a necklace made out of bones, which was cool, but a little weird,” Carter says.
STAGE STYLE: “Ashton Michael made me a really cool custom outfit so I’m really excited to wear it,” says the bleach blonde of her “gothic cowgirl” onstage look. “I like to bring masculinity and femininity into my style. As a female role model, I think it’s important to represent both things.”
DESIGNER CRUSH: “I really love Jeremy Scott. I love his fashion shows, what he represents. We get a lot of inspiration from him,” says Barthel, also a fan of Dior.
WHAT’S NEXT: Fest gigs around the world, including stops in Norway for Middelands, Norway for Pstereo, Ireland for Electric Picnic and Germany for Lollapalooza Berlin.
Bossa nova jazz singer Sophie Hawley-Weld met deejay Tucker Halpern at an art gallery performance during their senior year at Brown University. The two blended their different sensibilities — and first names — to form the house duo Sofi Tukker before graduating in 2014. “He ended up remixing one of my songs on the spot, and I loved the way that it sounded,” recalls Hawley-Weld. “I’d never really heard anything like it, and I thought it would be a really cool mix if I put it to dance music. It was just a weird vision, a feeling,” adds Halpern, who convinced Hawley-Weld to ditch her plans to teach yoga in Brazil and move to New York with him instead. “Now we get to go to Brazil and play for thousands of people,” says Halpern, noting that they just played São Paulo earlier this month. Three years — and one Grammy later — the twosome performed at Coachella on Sunday, their first time playing the fest. “We just saw The XX. I was blown away. I was 100 percent in tears,” says Hawley-Weld. The tress-obsessed Halpern, often influenced by New York club kids, sought inspiration beyond the music: “I’ll leave this with 20 million new hair ideas.”
PROVENANCE: Brooklyn, New York
LEAP OF FAITH: After recording “Drinkee” — which went on to win a Grammy for Best Dance Recording this year — during their last couple of days at Brown, Halpern thought: “We were onto something.” His friends, the electronic duo The Knocks, agreed. “They were like, ‘You should move to New York to pursue this,’ and without any real prospects, at the time, that was enough. When we look back on it, we’re like, ‘Whoa, what were we doing?’”
BIG BREAK: “Drinkee” was discovered on SoundCloud and then appeared in an Apple commercial in 2015. Hawley-Weld, wheelchair-bound at the time while she recovered from a stress fracture, says, “I couldn’t walk, but honestly because we got the Apple commercial, we were able to pay rent.”
THEIR BEYONCÉ MOMENT: “Pregnant Beyoncé was kind of crazy to see. She’s like a god,” says Halpern of their “crazy, unexpected and shocking” Grammys experience earlier this year. “The red carpet — I loved it. We stopped at each outlet and did a little interview and it was just like, ‘Why do these people give a s–t about what we have to say?’” he adds.
STAGE STYLE: “I like to wear bodysuits and things that make me feel really active and athletic and also really sensual,” says Hawley-Weld of her all-white stage ensembles, customized by a friend with embroidery, neck pieces and hand pieces. “It’s what I would naturally wear, but elevated and sparkly.”
MANE MAN: “My hair, that’s like really my statement piece,” says Halpern, who spray paints his bleached blonde hair with Danny Moon products. “They’re like pieces of art, so I could wear something really simple but my hair is what’s like the fashion.” He adds, “Hopefully I don’t lose it too soon so I can keep doing that.”
UP NEXT: The band, which released its first EP “Soft Animals” last summer, will hit the fest circuit with stops at Firefly, Panorama, Lollapalooza and Outside Lands. “We have a lot of new music coming out, and we’re going to be playing it a lot,” says Hawley-Weld.
Bishop Briggs, nee Sarah Grace McLaughlin, always dreamed of attending Coachella. Unfortunately, “I never could afford it,” says the indie pop artist, who moved to Los Angeles two days after graduating from high school in Hong Kong. Now, the former babysitter marks her first time at the fest as a performer. “This is a huge dream come true” says the 24-year-old. “I can’t believe I’m here.”
PROVENANCE: Born in London to Scottish parents, Briggs also lived in Japan and Hong Kong. “I became a little chameleon, but if you heard my parents, they have thick Scottish accents,” she says.
NAME-DROPPING: The singer changed her name, inspired by her parents’ hometown of Bishopbriggs, Scotland. She also recorded under the name Bishop, but added “Briggs” after getting tangled up in legal drama with a metal band with the same name.
KARAOKE QUEEN: After hearing her father perform in a karaoke bar as a child, “I got the performing itch.” Her go-to song? “It was the Nineties so it was a lot of Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, but of course I sang ‘Greatest Love of All’ by Whitney Houston. I sang that all year round.”
BIG BREAK: Former A&R rep George Robertson saw her perform at “a hole in the wall” in Los Angeles and introduced her to Mark Jackson and Ian Scott, who produced her first single, “Wild Horses.” “We wrote the song actually during a really dark time in my life,” she recalls. Then, “stars aligned” and the song was featured in an Acura commercial and entered the Top 20 on the iTunes Alternative Charts. She also collaborated with the pair on her alt hit, “River,” the first tune they penned together. “From there, it’s really just been insane.”
ROCK STAR PERKS: “It was the best experience ever,” says Briggs of touring with Coldplay last fall and rubbing elbows with Chris Martin. “I don’t want to go on about their catering because it does seem crazy,” she says. But the once-starving artist can’t help herself: “Their catering was amazing. It’s literally everything you could imagine,” she raves.
STYLE INSPO: “I love the ath-leisure look, but I’m also super inspired by anime and I love Japanese culture so much,” says the thrift shop enthusiast, who prepped for the fest by raiding local vintage stores. “Every time I get dressed I try to channel a little bit of Kanye West and a little bit of Sailor Moon.”
UP NEXT: Her second EP, released the first day of Coachella, already climbed to number one on the iTunes alternative chart. “Seriously, did I plan this? I wish I was that crafty,” she marvels of the fortuitous timing. “One of the songs is written a couple days after a big breakup that I went through, so it’s all very raw, and I hope whomever listens enjoys it and relates to it.” Briggs, currently on her first headlining tour, promises, “I’m always writing, so expect new music, new videos. I always have something up my sleeve.”
When GoldLink took the stage at Coachella on Sunday afternoon, the audience rapped along to the songs off his “hip-hop based electronic” debut album, “At What Cost,” blowing the fast-rising artist’s mind. “I just dropped an album less than a month ago, so seeing that people knew the words showed that something’s happening,” says the D.C. native, whose given name is D’Anthony Carlos. Deeply influenced by his hometown, Carlos’ inspirations include his father’s beloved go-go music, which originated in D.C. in the Sixties and Seventies, along with the city’s dominant drug culture, which he candidly explains drove him to succeed. “[The drug dealers] got all the girls, they got all the attention. That was always what inspired me to be great at whatever I wanted to do. The influence they had on the kids in the community is the same impact I want to have,” says the 23-year-old.
PROVENANCE: Washington, D.C. “It’s where I learned everything. It means the world to me,” says Carlos, whose latest album “was really like trying to avenge my city. We’re a very influential city, but everybody just took from us and left.”
BIG BREAK: He credits “timing and God” with racking up millions of downloads to his songs before even releasing his first mixtape “The God Complex” in 2014, which made several best-of lists that year. “I had like six songs come out with over a mil[lion downloads each]…I was like, ‘Maybe I’m good?’” says Carlos. He then collaborated with producer Rick Rubin and released his second mixtape, “After That We Didn’t Talk,” before signing with RCA Records in 2016.
FIRST SPLURGE: “When I was able to afford s–t I always went online shopping,” says the clotheshorse, whose first major splurge was a pair of YSL boots. “It was right when Hedi [Slimane] left, and the Anthony [Vaccarello] kid came. He took the punk rock surfer aesthetic and I was like, ‘I need to get them boots,’” he recalls.
FAVE DESIGNERS: “I’m not really a big brand guy. I’m a piece guy.” His current go-to: an Alexander McQueen cheetah jacket. He also counts Helmut Lang, Junya Watanabe, Undercover and Dior as favorites.
DREAM COLLABORATOR: “Prince was amazing. He was a real musician,” says Carlos, who laments that he never saw the icon perform. “All the special people are dead now.”
FEST FANBOY: “Kay[tranada]’s my man. I’ve seen him play in [D.C. club] Flash, and that’s like 300 people to doing Coachella. I just love watching Kay’s story because I was there, so he’s my favorite to watch.” Carlos took the stage during the DJ’s Coachella set.
UP NEXT: A slew of gigs to promote the new album, including stops in Dallas; Durham, N.C.; St. Louis; Toronto; and London.