Get To Know: Phaeleh
It’s a real pleasure to have the opportunity to interview you, as your productions initially got us heavily into music, thank you. Your sound is special to say the least with a mass array of spine tingling tracks on tap. Each track of yours will always have a strong feel about it whether it’s dramatic or incredibly soothing you can always rely on it to be bubbling with emotion. How do you prepare yourself, what scene do you set in front of you or in your head when making your music?
Thanks, always happy to chat about the music so all good! As you tour more and more it's harder to just sit down and make tunes. My rule of thumb is that if I've been away for gigs I need to write at least 100 tracks to just warm up and get used to the studio again. I'll only be able to write if there's a blank canvas in front of me. Trying to write with a goal or sound in mind won't result in anything I like. If it's sunny or I'm in a good mood, I won't try writing anything either, as I know from previous experiences it never goes anywhere. I've gotta be feeling pretty chilled out, no distractions, and hopefully nothing to do the next day, as I find knowing there's something going on the next day will result in just rubbish music.
We can speak of many personal experiences where your sound will take us up and away into the clouds to an enchanting fantasy. How would you hope your productions made your listeners feel? What do you hope to evoke?
I think the main thing is that they feel something. So much music feels forced and not authentic to me these days. I just want it to accompany the highs and lows of life, and hopefully enable them to just let go of other things and embrace those feelings, whether good or bad and hopefully come out the other side feeling cleansed from the experience. That's what my favourite music does to me, so guess I just want the same from mine. A resonance with the audience.
Was there anything growing up which set the course for your music and career?
I was never blessed with goals or aims as a child or adult, so in terms of career it wasn't even an option. I did however seem to really enjoy playing music, so I'd pick up a cheap classical guitar from some sale for a few quid (£), mess around on the piano and other things. I think it helped having parents who didn't seem to mind that I didn't seem to get much pleasure from anything other than music and lego as a child.
I had a foster uncle who played electric guitar and he was really important at getting me on that path, and I think that's when my real passion for music began as I was playing stuff like Zepplin, Metallica, through to The Average White Band and James Brown.
What were the first records you heard of a related style that made you think, “I want to do something like that”?
There wasn't really a style in mind, I'd always played loads of music on guitar in various bands, but I think the open ended nature of electronic music really hit me after years of frustrations of playing in bands. I'd guess Prodigy Experience, Selected Ambient Works, and anything by LTJ Bukem/Good Looking Records were some of the early things which got me to take production more seriously.
What music do you listen to in your own time?
I listen to music at best once a month, if I'm lucky. I mainly listen to Tool, or some older stuff like music for airports or anything on a minimalist tip. It's normally on a train when my eyes are too tired to read. It sounds ridiculous, but I just don't have that much time for it these days. A lot of friends who used to send mixes to me or recommend music to me are all busy playing grown ups these days, so that element which would introduce me to a lot of music has sadly gone. If I'm honest, there's not a lot of stuff out there which gets me excited these days.
What music has/does inspire your ambient sound?
I guess the previously mentioned stuff would be part of it. The Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Philip Glass side of things, with some Boards of Canada style stuff and older Aphex Twin. I'm normally in quite a chilled out frame of mind when making music, and think by default you put a lot of reverb on everything which definitely helps.
What would you say has been the main thing that’s changed over the years with your productions? What has influenced your maturity along the way?
If I took the melodies and progressions of my music now, and 15 years ago. Nothing has changed in terms of style. I guess I've learned to be a bit more restrained in some ways, and realised that just because you spent hours on a sound doesn't mean you have to keep it. My production itself has got a lot better, but that's the nature of repetition and practice, it applies to everything. But the notes themselves haven't changed much. I've always been into more 'emotive' progressions and feelings from the music I make. If it makes someone cry, my job here is done.
As fans we can imagine it to be a daunting task when it comes to making more music that has this eurphoric atmosphere, how do you hope to develop your sound?
It sounds odd, but I plan to look backwards a lot more, feature more instrumentation, feature elements from the more electronica days when I was doing shows with synths and drum machines, and if there was a computer on stage, it was running programs and sequencers that myself and friends had made. I want to hear gestures behind the sounds, I don't just want it to be a bunch of native instruments presets. I want more mistakes, more real life sounds, and mainly be less of a perfectionist. As the music that gets the best responses is all the stuff I made in no time at all. Where as the things you get lost in for weeks on end don't get anywhere the same response. Hopefully whilst still evoking the emotional response in the listener.
Seeing your productions progressively have less and less of a Dubstep vibe to them how do feel the Dubstep scene is moving on?
I don't think that's really been a factor if I'm honest, I've always made ambient, I've always made Dubstep/garage, I've always made harder stuff. I think people noticed the 140 stuff, as that's what was getting signed at the time. Dubstep is like any other scene out there, there will always be people pushing the sound, a small amount will be innovating, a larger amount will be copying them. Drum and Bass has supposed to have died endless times before, but still seems to have some of the best ideas I hear these days. I don't think Dubstep is any different at all. When most the people get bored and move one (which most have imo), the scene is then free to experiment again. I wasn't even there at the start, but the difference at UK shows around 2006/2007 compared to even 2009/2010 was scary. There was so much musical freedom in the beginning, each tune in every DJs set had a different vibes. As a young producer there was almost too much to consider. If I go to a lot of shows now, I'm pretty sure they're playing the same tune for 6 hours.
How did the link up come about with the talented Soundmouse and have you got any future tracks lined up with her?
We linked up about 5 years ago through a mutual friend, but she never really wanted to get involved in music, so is teaching now, and I'm in a different place musically now, so I'd rather push new ideas and sounds, rather than just going for the easy option and repeating myself, so I wouldn't expect any future collaborations.
You’ve said previously when your writing music that you don’t listen to other music as you don’t want to be influenced by anything else, and that your out of the loop on any scene. What’s your thinking behind this natural ideology of not listening to other music whilst writing? Some artists would argue that its healthy to listen to others, as it can add to your own sound, but then we wonder if your approach is the secret to why your music is so unique and powerful.
Each to their own as far as I'm concerned. If I was an upbeat person it might work, but if I listen to other musicians, I'll just find reasons to think the music I'm working on is rubbish. I don't have a lot of self confidence, so to hear really good music makes me want to stop writing. It's just the way I've been since a kid, so just know if I need to make music, the worse thing I could do would be to listen to music. I find it easier to express myself with no distractions. If I paid attention outside of my studio I'd probably think I needed to make regurgitated identikit house in order to get people to like it. But I don't want to do that, so will continue to hide in my little musical bubble.
Off the top of your head which 8 artists would you choose to perform at a Phaeleh electronic festival?
Tool - They're not electronic but it's my festival and would be a condition of doing it.
Aphex Twin – doing an ambient set like I saw him do at 5am at Glastonbury Festival many years ago, was only about 15 people watching it, but my god it was amazing.
DjRum – Still the best DJ I know personally and I can happily listen to a whole set by him.
Geode – only person making tunes I play at the moment.
Memotone – Been jamming with him lots and his ability to create amazing soundscapes on his own in real time are insanely inspiring.
I'd have to get back to you on the others, nothing's really coming to mind.
Three career highlights?
Outlook Festival 2011 – My first time there and the realisation that people were actually liking my tunes. That was quite special.
Getting various people I respected as a young producer saying they like the music was pretty awesome.
I'm struggling for a third. It's that glass half empty thing all over again.
What’s your favourite tool in the studio?
Do you have a favourite track out of your never-ending list of productions?
I think there are a couple I can still listen to and enjoy, without hearing things I should have done, and those are probably In The Twilight, Plateau and maybe Journey.
How you would advise up and coming producers to standout?
Don't worry yourself with what everyone else is doing. Be true to yourself and make the music you want to, and it will eventually get out there. Practice makes perfect, so rather than spending a year on 1 tune trying to make it perfect. Make 100 basic ones instead, you'll learn a lot more as a producer and also about what you want to achieve as a musician.
You’ve already accomplished a lot in your career – what is left on your musical bucket list that you still want to accomplish?
I really just want to make a release I'm happy with. Whilst they've gotten better over time, apart from my first few singles, everything else has had an element of being rushed about them. As a result I'm not happy with anything I've released as a whole body of work. But I'm getting closer, and think the next album I write could be one step closer in that direction.
What’s next for you?
I've just dropped a free ambient album called 'Somnus' with tracks I've made over the last 10 years, which was great to finally happen as have been trying to squeeze that in since about 2009, but just hadn't had a chance.
I've also got a brand new 8 track EP called 'A World Without' getting a release in September, which is all material written this year. So that still sounds fresh to me, so looking forward to the fans hearing that.