Musician Sam Flores ’23, also known by his pseudonym Pink Phantom, wants you to think critically. This first-year student believes it is more crucial than ever to analyze sundry issues in an era where we are constantly inundated with new information. Rather than becoming complacent, Flores maintains that it is important to fight back by actively searching for the relative truth in every grain of substance. In his eyes, people can only be free when they open themselves up to argumentation, where beliefs and opinions can be formulated aside from the mind-numbing influence of the media.
At LC, Flores makes music under the pseudonym Pink Phantom. He has been producing since he was first introduced to it by his brother and performing since he was first encouraged to by his family. He describes his progression in music as a sequence, the first part of which was “being raised as a performer” and the final part of which was “starting to produce.” His surrounding community in Tucson, Arizona contributed to his development as an artist.
“The thing about growing up in a poor town with a small music scene is that the people in the music scene – both audiences and artists – are going to support you,” Flores said. “That’s one of the things I really enjoyed about the Tucson scene. Back home people were readily available to support what I was doing with music.”
Flores underscored the idea that art has the potential to liberate people from the oppression of the media and other information outlets. In his own life, Flores has used music as a tool for argumentation, recognizing its capacity for introducing compelling viewpoints and unique perspectives.
“I want to be introducing people to ideas that are liberating,” Flores said. “I also want to romanticize critical thinking through drug imagery. The drugs that I am talking about are a metaphor for theses. The drugs that I am talking about are stimuli that take you out of your prescribed world. Get high on your own supply of argumentation.”
Flores has worked on incorporating drug-related imagery into his music since his freshman year of high school. It reinforces the sentiment that argumentation can be intoxicating and that an artist should shape their approach according to the ideas that they wish to express.
“All of my music is very thesis driven,” Flores said. “There is always a narrative, and with the narrative there is always an argument being made. They tend to be progressive and they generally tend to speak about peoples’ capacity to obtain power. Power is a central theme to the music I create.”
The toxic academic culture at Flores’s high school influenced his belief that power distinctions between groups of people can be unhealthy.
“The school held awards assemblies … for the kids that were doing great in school,” Flores said. “You parade a bunch of good numbers up in front of a bunch of not-so-good numbers, and there is a power dynamic created.”
The 2016 presidential election further solidified the concept of power dynamics in Flores’s mind. The relationship between the media and the population, he observed, was very much a dependent relationship, in which the population relied on biased media narratives to formulate their opinions.
“The 2016 election made me realize how important it is to be a critical thinker all the time,” Flores said. “Because, if you aren’t, you risk being swayed by the very rhetoric-dense atmosphere that is (a part of) the United States. It is more essential than ever then that people become agile thinkers.”
For Flores, artistic performance holds power that can bring people together in a more positive way. He describes this relationship between the audience and the artist as liberating and inclusive because it allows people to unite in solidarity despite their differences; instead of separating people based on their relative power, artistic performance equalizes them on a basis of shared power.
“After bringing them into the performance they feel one with the music and one with the performance so much so that they actually become a part of it,” Flores said. “That feeling of togetherness and power is absolutely what I want people to take away from the music I create.”
Aside from the performative aspect of art, Flores believes that art itself should be sufficiently captivating so that people can effectively engage with it. This sentiment explains why he has frequently deviated his music from traditional expectations, choosing instead to formulate a structure that is reflective of his own non-conventional and provocative style.
“I love expressing ideas in really strange ways,” Flores said. “I like to bend genre. When an artist has the ability to weave things that do not fit together in a way that works, that’s really impressive. It’s very exciting to me.”
If there is one thing Flores has relied upon throughout his music experience, it is the belief that what he is doing serves a purpose. Whether he is performing or creating music, he does so with the intention of sharing ideas that can provoke broad, meaningful avenues of thought within his listeners.
“There is a rule that can be applied to anything that you do,” Flores said. “It boils down to…having a dream. You have to latch onto it. You have to believe that you’re doing something good for yourself and for others. When you’re practicing an instrument, as in anything, you have to have (that dream). Because every time you hit a note on a piano, anytime that you slap a symbol, the dream is what makes it worth it.”
Flores seeks to further his work with concept albums and genre-mixing, but above all he seeks to engage the LC community with his ideas. By doing so, he embraces a mindset that places collective, critical thought over individualist, unsubstantiated beliefs. Pink Phantom, then, represents a beacon of honest reflection and indignant queries in a world that could use much more of it.
If you would like to learn more about Sam Flores and his music, you can find him on Spotify or Apple Music by searching for Pink Phantom.
Finding Sam’s Music:
If you would like to learn more about Sam Flores and his music:
If you use Spotify or Apple Music, type in Pink Phantom into the search bar. Here are the links to head straight there: