Artist Interviews

Phaeleh – Exclusive Interview

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Phaeleh (AKA: Matt Preston-Bristolian Producer) says of himself that he’s mainly known for making ‘atmospheric, emotional chilled bass music’. If you’re lucky enough to know his music-, you should find this a pretty good read; some insightful and honest answers. If you still haven’t heard, then give him a listen…

MG: You’re clearly a very busy guy- always gigging and you’ve recently done festivals in Croatia, Denmark and all over the UK. You obviously work very hard for your well deserved success. Do you get much sleep?

P: Thanks, definitely started to see the hard work paying off in the last couple of years. It’s fair to say that when I’m gigging my sleep pattern is pretty nonexistent, by the time you recover it’s time for some more shows, though it’s always nice to meet people at gigs, so does make up for the general tiredness.

MG: At your shows you create a beautiful space and atmosphere, everyone in the audience seems to have strong personal connections to your songs. As a musician I can’t imagine anything more satisfying. You’ve been making music for a long time; what do you get your kicks from now?

P: As someone who was never really embraced massively by the scene to start with, I’ve always depended on a direct relationship with the fans, so when I hear that people connect to the music on such an emotional level, it’s the best kind of feedback for me. My favourite music when I was growing up was always the stuff which got you through the tough times, so to hear people saying the same thing about my tunes is best thing I could have asked for.

I still write in a very emotional way, normally to capture how I feel, or to sometimes evoke a certain response from the listener, but I’d say my urge to make music is no different to when I was a little kid making tunes on a melodica and piano.

MG: You’re one of the few artists that, when I see you’ve released a song- I can’t say I know what it’s going to sound like. On your approach to writing music, you once said the music you make is ‘always a reflection of your mood or headspace, but that’s about it’… Could you tell us a little more about your creative process, for example, how much does the kind of crowds you are playing to affect the music you make?

P: My music making process is always quite vague to be fair, I never have a set plan. I wouldn’t say I consider playing tunes out too much when I’m writing, I know naturally some will be suited to that whereas a lot won’t be. I guess there is a temptation to keep writing stuff around 140bpm so that I can mix it into my typical sets, but I’ve really tried to forget about songs as a DJ tool, and just let the music breathe as compositions this time round.

MG: Have you ever had any epiphany moments or realisations that have had a significant effect on you and really made you change the way you work or think about music- or even life in general- that you would be comfortable telling us about?

P: I’ve probably had quite a lot in my lifetime, as tend to be a deep thinker and get lost in my thoughts constantly.

I had a particularly dark breakup with a girl some years ago, and at the time I’d not written any music in about a year and I remember how therapeutic the process of just making tunes was. I just realised that it was ridiculous that I’d been putting all my energy into something so unrewarding, but had been neglecting something so important to me as music. That was a definite factor in starting doing more focussed music under the Phaeleh name.

I was also doing a PGCE in secondary music at the time the Phaeleh stuff was starting to pick up, and I remember thinking I’d regret it forever if I never actually tried pushing the music, so put the teaching on hold to do the music full time. That was definitely a pivotal moment for me, as I really adopted an aggressive work ethic, that kept me going despite not getting any interest or support in the early days.

Another key time was around 2009/2010 when a few people I knew sadly passed away, that had quite a profound effect on me, and I felt like I had to make the most of each day, and for me at the time that was pouring my heart and soul into music. It was that momentum which resulted in ‘Fallen Light’ in my opinion.

MG: You’re probably tired of the question, but I know a lot of fans would love to know, are you planning on doing any more collaborations with Soundmouse?

P: I’m sure I’ll do something with Lu again in the future, but I’ve not got anything planned for the next album. I love the tracks that we’ve done together, and whilst I’m happy with the success of ‘Afterglow’, I’m also quite keen to move away from it. In the past I’ve always worked with different vocalists, so thought it was a good time to vary things a little, but would be up for working with her again at some point, I do feel our styles complement each other well.

MG: You have ambitions of making your live set more of a band set-up with instruments, which I know a lot of us want to hear, but you’ve said it would be very expensive to hire the musicians. Surely there are armies of technically capable Phaeleh fans out there willing to join the band just for the experience- or maybe a share of the live gigs?!

P: It’s still a plan, just trying to find some time to get the idea rolling. I think I probably said that when I was considering just paying session musicians, but have decided it would be much better to just have a core of musicians in Bristol who can form the basis of it, then maybe get in additional musicians for certain performances. I’m sure when the time comes to track down some musicians I’ll encourage any local recommendations.

MG: Our website actually facilitates for exactly this kind of thing (amongst others) we provide a very effective service to established music professionals such as yourself and therefore create work opportunities for the talented but unrecognised. For example you could post a project saying you would like to hire some musicians and specify your budget then people can bid saying how much they will do it for. You can easily listen to examples of their work on their profile. We believe it will be equally beneficial for all parties. Is this something you think you might use?

P: I think any sort of networking service like that would be pretty beneficial. I could see something like that being useful if you’re looking for specific things, and also good for expanding less experienced musicians portfolios at the same time. Would definitely consider something like that when the time is right.

MG: We’re all very excited about your new album, set to drop early 2013. Is there anything coming up that we’ve missed and you’d like to cover?

P: There’s a Kahn and Djrum remix 12” dropping soon, of my track ‘The Cold In You’.

Main thing is the new album coming out early next year, though I’ve also been slowly putting together an ambient album as well, which I’ll probably put out myself after the follow up to ‘Fallen Light’  is out.

Thanks Matt!

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