"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.’ "
The moniker stuck and eventually became a stage name for Newsom, who began making music in high school.
His 2005 debut album, "Revideolized," had a mix of influences from Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears to David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick.
Newsom is as much a performance artist as a working musician offering a mysterious and attention-grabbing live show. His imagination is a significant part of the act.
Newsom talked to The Tribune about his newest album, "Abandon," and the importance of visuals.
Why do you call your new album "Abandon"?
It 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 affect your shows?
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 do you find uninspiring?
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] fluorescent lighting and the atmosphere of Walmart.
How do you distinguish yourself from other acts?
I haven’t seen anyone in Utah dressing up as a "drag devil."
Where you would like to see yourself on Dec. 31, 2013?
Touring in Europe, where music is still alive.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.