Being forced to slow down isn’t a bad thing.
After years and years of working full-time jobs (Drew as an elementary school teacher; Korum as museum director) and recording and touring as two-thirds of Grammy™-nominated Recess Monkey, one of the top family music acts in the country, Drew Holloway and Korum Bischoff found themselves suddenly shuttered into their homes at the start of 2020 along with the rest of the world.
As it turns out, the sudden stop to normalcy was the opportunity they’d both been looking for. With time on their hands—and creative drives that were helping to soothe feelings of uncertainty—the moment was right to explore new musical territory.
Just before COVID-19 swept the globe, Korum had invested in some drum mics and a new workstation—with a lingering question in his mind, will I ever get to learn how to use it? There were ideas in his head that he’d never been able to put down under the scrutiny of paid studio time. The time at home was fruitful. Between homeschooling his kids and helping keep the museum he works for afloat despite being closed, Korum was able to get his studio running and new music began to arise, including drum tracks for projects by Amanda Palmer and Hamilton Boyce.
For Drew, the project was truly organic and collaborative with no expectations other than to be creative and keep in touch. Getting a new sketch or loop to play with, or a mix of a song… those were all gifts that helped sustain him in quarantine. As Drew says, “art, friends, and love for the win. Every time.” The shutdown not only brought about this new partnership for him, but also the release of two more EPs in the family music genre under the name Twin Pop.
With all this in mind, a simple ukulele track was sent from Korum to Drew and quicker than you can get a COVID test result, the basic structure of “Walk Away” (out in February 2022) was recorded.
Meanwhile, 1,200 miles to the south, Korum’s lifetime musical collaborator and brother, Jherek Bischoff was equally out of sorts and looking for connection. So Korum sent down the track and it came back with an amplified sense of drama and power, thanks to years of experience arranging, producing, and performing alongside artists as varied as Angel Olsen, David Byrne, Shaed, Xiu Xiu, and Amanda Palmer. Amidst the pressures of scoring for film and stage, this music was a welcome opportunity to just let go, no strings attached. A project was born.
The last instruments to be deployed were the ears and ideas of Korum’s son, Calder, who brought a younger aesthetic and opinions to mixing as well as a track of his own to offer up. In his late teens, the opportunity to work with and learn from people he’s looked up to his whole life was the perfect way to make his start in the music scene. His textural composition ideas, combined with love for electronic rock, art pop, and noise pop rounded out the sound.
The Phantom Years are set to release their debut album “Thanks For Asking” in early 2022. Whether or not it’s a commercial sensation isn’t the point. The fact that the friends and family were able to connect during global turmoil and come out of it productively, with new skills and material, and deepened relationships makes the year that wasn’t feel like it had a point. “Any year can be a phantom year,” says Drew, “if you’re wishing on the past or counting the days until something or someone will come and make things all better.”