ABC Music News

Phantogram's Sarah Barthel can't stop getting goosebumps on "timeless" ONR collaboration, "Must Stop"

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Courtesy of Warner Records

On the new song “Must Stop,” Phantogram‘s Sarah Barthel and Scottish musician ONR trade verses lamenting how they can’t stop falling in love with every person who “f***s [them] up.”

Speaking with ABC Audio, ONR — born Robert Shields — shares that he originally wrote “Must Stop” for just himself to sing before realizing it might need a duet partner. Through a mutual music industry colleague, he linked up with Barthel, and “Must Stop” realized its true destiny.

“I was a Phantogram fan, so I was really excited to hear Sarah’s vocal on it,” Shields says. “Immediately, the second I heard it, I was just, like, ‘That’s perfect.'”

Shields adds that Barthel’s contribution helped “Must Stop” take on a “completely different life.”

“Sarah’s vocal…was amazing and obviously gave it a natural lift,” he explains. “But also just having two people sing on it, I think, as well, changed the meaning of the lyric and the meaning of the song.”

For Barthel’s part, she was hooked on “Must Stop” as soon as she heard Shields’ original demo.

“I think I listened to the first 10 seconds and I was, like, ‘Yup. Absolutely,'” Barthel recalls. “[It was] just really exciting, gave me goosebumps. The simplicity of it, it was very inspiring.”

During a year when we were mostly stuck in our homes with our own thoughts, “Must Stop” feels quite relevant, but Barthel feels it will connect even beyond pandemic times.

“It’ll be relevant in 50 years,” Barthel says. “It’s just one of those songs. It’s, I think, a timeless song. Right now, it speaks to me. I think it’s gonna speak to me after it all, once I keep falling in love with people who f*** me up.”

“And I will blast that s***,” she laughs.

(Video contains uncensored profanity.)

By Josh Johnson
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