Phantom Pink is the artistic moniker of Brayton Walls, a singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist based in Portland. Throughout his life, Phantom Pink has been melding genres, and he has now established his own unique sound. Unsettling and dystopian, his unparalleled pen helps to build a distinctive world of his own.
Phantom Pink’s latest single, “SoHo (Leave Me Alone),” is a contemporary alt-pop gem that highlights his versatility as a songwriter and producer. Its pitch-perfect production, rich lyrics, and infectious melodies and harmonies make it an irresistible sonic delight. What sets Phantom Pink apart is his ability to merge different genres seamlessly, resulting in a mesmerizing and immersive listening experience. His complete control over his songwriting allows him to explore various sub-genres, giving us a peek into his diverse musical universe.
Despite being a relative newcomer, Phantom Pink has already amassed a devoted following on Spotify with only five singles. This further underscores his vast potential as an artist who can connect with and inspire his audience. With such boundary-breaking talent abound, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Phantom Pink. From where it all started, and self-actualisation, to what’s on the horizon – we dig deep.
Head below to listen to Phantom Pink’s single “SoHo (Leave Me Alone)”…
Head below to read the interview…
Who is an influence to you?
I would say Bowie is one of my biggest influences. There’s so much to learn from someone who showed themselves through their music, every record, and never failing to surprise themselves. I also like how he made music a bit selfishly, for himself. Granted, I don’t entirely agree with making selfish music, but I love the idea of putting your DNA into your sound.
How did you first find your passion to create?
I think it was just always bubbling inside of me, this ever-present thought that permeated into the rest of my life. It wasn’t a puzzle for me to solve, it was just always sort of there. But, when I was two I would stand in front of the tv while Fantasia was on, with all its great music. I would stand and conduct the music with my hands. I’m not a conductor, yet, but the love for music was there.
What was the moment that you knew you wanted to make music as a career?
It’s funny, I used to play a lot of Guitar Hero 3 before I learned my first instrument, guitar. And I think that gave me a really good taste in my mouth for what I thought touring and musician life was. Oh, what did I know. I feel like I’m one of the kids that grew up playing Guitar Hero and wanted to play the actual thing, so I transferred to that. And I already had a decent voice, so why not give it a go?
How has your upbringing directed the way you create?
I sort of had two different musical voices during my upbringing, one being my mom and one being my dad. They had intersected of music that they enjoyed, but the majority of what they listened to on their own was completely opposite each other. My early life I listened to a lot of classic rock and things like that, and that was my first impression of music. It taught me musicianship, I would say. My mom, who was into more of the indie-pop sphere and more up to date music, kept me in the loop with the present and changing times. I have this tradition inside of me, but also something that is more conscious of what’s going on in music. So, I actually have my parents to thank for my taste in music.
Where does the name Phantom Pink stem from?
Phantom Pink is a way for me to release something, while being a little bit separated. I wanted a pen name where it was loosely associated with me. It adds a bit of mystique to it, which I like. The name itself actually came from a brainstorming session, where the name “Pink Phantom” was thrown around. Something just wasn’t right about it. So, we swapped the words around and it stuck.
Do you feel more at home as a singer, producer or instrumentalist?
Along with Phantom Pink being a pen name, I wanted Phantom Pink to be a producer name, as well. I love recording music and the process of making it. But along with that, I love playing every instrument I can get my hands on. I just love knowing how to play an instrument, there’s no bigger flex. And singing is something that I do every day, which people on the freeway that look into my window see quite often.
How would you define your style?
I think my style has this off-kilter, dystopian sound signature to it. It sounds sort of desolate and alone, and I don’t even mean that as a sad or weird thing. It lends itself to the creative process that I partake in, where I sort of “hole up” and write a song, then move over to my computer and add sounds to it. And that sound is just very “holed up”, in a weird way.
What artists would you file yourself next to?
I’ve always loved Radiohead, which is a bit cliché. So, what, arrest me. I also really like Grace Ives, which is a more recent pick; she knows how to make some great, simple pop music. Also, I love Alex G. He has a “holed up” sound, as well.
We love your latest release “SoHo (Leave Me Alone)”, so vibrant! Talk us through the creative process there?
Why, thank you. I actually wrote that song while I was in New York. I remember writing it on the subway. It was after an experience I had with some guy that was wearing a really tight, white t-shirt, and he was a little sweaty. He was with these two girls and it looked like he had maybe taken a little too much of something and it seemed like he was being taken care of by them. I remember him coming up to me and asking where he could find a party, and I said “leave me alone”. I regretted saying that immediately. It just sorts of spouted out. I think that that’s what I write about a lot, that , “why did I do that?” thing. I ended up writing SoHo about this guy and made him out to be a big jerk, but at the very end of the song it comes full-circle as I ask him if he “sees it in me, too”.
What message are you conveying with the track?
Don’t go to SoHo when you’re sober.
How does it compare with your previous releases?
I think it has a poppier production palette to it. Which was the intended direction from the get-go, in a way I think it’s kind of tongue-in-cheek. But also, it does have a great pop sheen to it that I really love, which actually feels natural in the context of my previous releases.
Where do you want to take your artistry?
I’ve always been inspired by a lot of things like fashion and film. I’m also inspired by food, a lot. Who knows maybe I’ll open a restaurant with a venue. Pink’s Pub? Ew no. I do think Phantom Pink can be a lot of things, though. I would love to sprawl into fashion and I would love to go into performance art. I would also really like to produce for other artists and collaborate with bigger names. Who knows?
What is to come from you this year?
Well, the biggest thing I’ve been working on has been my EP “I’ll send you a thank you letter”. It has four new songs that have this kind of “weird, dystopian, singer-songwriter, sad-boy” vibe to it. Very pretty, beautiful songs with some themes of the postmodern age, with an unreliable narrator. All the good stuff. It’s going to be really, really good. It’ll be out in the spring, just in time for summertime sadness.
Why do you make music?
I think I make music to relieve myself. To me, there’s nothing more relieving than writing a song about something that has been weighing me down. It sort of makes it not my issue anymore; it gives you a new perspective. Even, then it’s a great way to discover yourself. I’m all for making music to find yourself.