Ted Newsom is a 26-year-old Salt Lake City-based musician, but he is better known around town as The Rose Phantom.
“Once upon a time I would leave roses for a special someone, but I would do it in a ‘phantom’ style,” Newsom said. “One time a friend was with me while I was doing these mysterious activities. He said something along the lines of ‘Man, you’re like a phantom or something.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m like a Rose Phantom.’ Ever since then, the name has stuck and has turned into more of an artist and stage name.”
Newsom began making music in 2003 when he started his first solo musical project in high school. His debut album was 2005’s “Revideolized,” and it showed the influences of not only music but film, with inspirations from not just Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears but David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick.
The Rose Phantom’s newest album is “Abandon,” and coupled with a mysterious and attention-grabbing live show, Newsom is as much a performance artist as a working musician as he plays his ambient, layered electronica that is much more intimate than sensationalistic than what you would imagine.
And imagination is a significant part of the act.
Newsom answered questions posed by The Tribune about “Abandon,” what doesn’t inspire him and how important visuals are to what The Rose Phantom is.
Why do you call your new album “Abandon”?
“Abandon” seemed like a fitting title to sum up the past three years of my life — my personal life, and my musical life. Everything in my life at the time seemed to be coming to an end, leaving me the option to fight it, or simply “abandon” it. Out of abandonment, comes new life, and new dreams.
How much does the visual element impact who you are what your shows are like or what you intend to do?
The visual aspect of the work holds a tremendous impact. Without the image, the music is unfulfilled in my eyes. The perfect marriage is marrying music with video, and really being able to manifest the intended atmosphere. As for the live shows, the ideal show for me would be something close to U2’s “ZooTV”. At the moment I’m attempting to bring back the theatrics in a live performance, which seems to have been lost to my generation.
What does NOT inspire you, and disheartens you?
I dislike how the world has turned into a sea of mediocrity where the true artists are drowning underneath it. A few small things the Phantom does not approve of [include] florescent lighting and the atmosphere of Walmart.
How do you try to distinguish yourself from other acts in the area?
I haven’t seen anyone in Utah dressing up as a “drag devil.”
At what point does making something turn into making art?
As soon as the idea takes bloom in my mind, it turns into art. The true art is to be able to manifest your ideas. There are the occasions where there isn’t a clear idea of what I would like. In that case, the art forms on its own, step-by-step, without any insight as to the outcome. That’s what I call spontaneous creation.
Where you would like to see yourself on Dec. 31, 2013?
Touring in Europe, where music is still alive.
You can listen to and buy “Abandon” by The Rose Phantom at www.therosephantom.com