13 March 2020
Photos: Courtesy of Twin Phantom
Interview & Text: Maximilian Botsio
Elijah Russell and Bryce Walters grew up together as next door neighbours in Portland, Oregon and used their combined taste in music to create a new and versatile sound.
At the end of February, pop band Twin Phantom released their first EP Self Aware. So, we sat down with Elijah and Bryce to chat about their creative process, their first impression of each other and their biggest fashion icon.
Do you remember your first impression of each other?
Bryce: My first impression of Elijah was when I was 11 years old. He had just moved into my neighborhood, and when I finally hung out with him, I remember being annoyed because all of his Yu-Gi-Oh cards were in German, and I couldn't understand what they said.
Elijah: I remember feeling like he and I probably wouldn’t have a lot in common, but we met because our parents arranged a play date.
Do you remember your first encounter with music? At what point did you decide to make music together?
Bryce: My first encounter with an instrument was with an old keyboard in the guest room closet. After learning how to play piano, I started to experiment with other instruments. I came to Elijah with what I’d been learning, and after a few years, this led to the inspiration for starting the band. Elijah and I started out playing cover songs with Elijah on guitar while I played drums.
Elijah: I’ve always been doing music and learning to play instruments. I feel like Bryce got more interested in music and started taking it seriously like 5 years ago or so.
What is the creative process like when you’re making music together?
Bryce: When Elijah and I create music, our creative process depends on who starts the song. Elijah is typically driven by doing something new that he has never tried or has never heard before. My inspiration is through light and emotion/what I’m currently feeling. Elijah will typically start a song, and I’ll spice it up and add production value. When I start a song, it’s typically only a chord progression or melody that Elijah will spice up. We tend to ‘trade off’.
Elijah: I start my beats by doing something random and unfamiliar, then based on feeling, I try and make it make sense. I’ll press random notes and quantize it and try to make sense of it. Bryce ties a lot of the product together once most of the ideas are there.
What was your inspiration behind your song ‘High Road’?
Elijah: We started ‘High Road’ with a small riff that Bryce came up with, and I wanted to combine Latin sounding elements and trap music. The song is not about something that I’ve personally experienced, but I feel that potentially it could relate to someone else’s story. My songs are often telling a story from a different perspective than my own.
How do you decide who does the beats and who sings? Or do you do everything together?
Bryce: What typically happens is we’ll come to each other with song ideas where one of us might come up with a beat or melody. It really depends if we both like what we have. Some songs Elijah will come up with a melody, and I might add a beat to it, or the other way around. The songs we currently have out right now are mostly melodies done by Elijah, a lot of the beats are shared between us when it comes to playing/programming.
What was the last song or record you fell in love with?
Bryce: The last song I fell in love with was ‘Expectations’ by Arrested Youth. It’s a very well-produced and in-depth song covering a topic I personally resonate with when it comes to social and personal struggles.
Elijah: I was very impressed by Labyrinth’s song ‘All for Us’. I love it when I hear music that’s unpredictable and requires thought to understand what has just happened.
Is music your main employment?
Elijah: As of now, no. Music is an artistic passion that we are hoping to turn into a career.
So what are you doing at the moment?
Elijah: Currently, we’re both going to college full time. Bryce currently has a degree in music and sonic arts while I’m studying psychology at Howard University.
How did you decide which songs make it on the EP?
Elijah: The idea revolving around the EP Self Aware are songs covering topics that have to do with coming to terms with a flaw in yourself and understanding it, whatever it may be. Each song is represented by the colored boxes on the album artwork.
How has your style evolved since you started making music together?
Bryce: We both have a wide range when it comes to music we like and draw inspiration from. So, we try to challenge each other and ourselves to come up with either something new or something we haven’t heard before.
What are your plans for 2020?
Elijah: 2020 is the year we take our time to experiment and grow. We have many songs in production that we’re planning on releasing in the near future.
Twin Phantom, 'High Road'
Apart from releasing music together, do you both also go solo?
Elijah: I have a lot of ideas that are different from what Bryce listens to that I am working on as a solo artist because I want to demonstrate diversity as an artist. I’ve released one single track called ‘Nonsense’, where I rap in English and German.
What interests you in fashion?
Elijah: I think that fashion is only a thing I consider when I plan on going to events. Bryce and I have always been friends before we were band mates, and we love humor. Fashion doesn’t have one specific look, but to me fashion feels like a more serious thing. Meaning if I’m dressing fashionably, I am trying to. I’m not ever accidentally fashionable because I have a lot of the same types of clothes.
Who is your biggest fashion icon?
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
Elijah: Kanye West and/or Tyler the Creator.
Bryce: Tyler Joseph and/or Watsky.
Imagine you’re at the airport and you’re given a free flight. Where would you fly to?
Elijah: I’d fly to Mexico or Jamaica. I love both places a lot, and I really like getting a tan.
Bryce: I personally hate flying but I’d love to visit Hawaii to check out the observatories there.