There is beauty amidst the spaces in between. Phaeleh has been releasing music since 2008 and throughout this time has produced three albums. On the eve of his latest release it seems somewhat fitting to reflect on his contributions to electronic music. The discourse of his music has seen him veer right and left between uk bass culture and somewhat cinematic soundscapes. Never standing still Phaeleh has taken influence from a range of genres and continues to explore the realm of possibilities within sound. Titled "Illusion Of The Tale" he speaks bluntly about the roots and origins of the release.
“The album title is my polite way of saying we live in a world of bullshit and bullshitters. Essentially I feel we all live in a constant lie, whether it be our Facebook profile pictures, the need to present our lives as perfect, with good looking partners, intelligent children, the perfect job etc."
Ahead of the release of the record on the 14th of October we asked him to contribute to our Monday mix series as he delves deep through the depths of his record collection. Listen and read the interview below:
Please introduce yourself…
I'm Matt and I produce under the name Phaeleh.
Who are you, where are you and what are you?
I'm a musician based in Bristol but from Wiltshire originally. I'm a realist with life long tunnel vision for music.
What does your music sound like? Can you draw what you think it sounds like for us (an image from the old internet is acceptable)?
This picture I found online is a really good example of how I see it.
It actually sounds more like this.
What role has ambient music played throughout your life?
I've never been able to sleep. I always needed music or TV on in the background as a way of muting my mind. When I found the Eno albums Ambient1:Music for Airports and shortly after Apollo:Atmospheres and Soundtracks they instantly resonated with me, and I loved the ability of the music to sit in the background, yet still hold my attention in a meditative way. These also paved the way for me to finally listen to a lot of minimalist stuff which my teacher at school had been trying to get me to listen to for a few years.
SAW2 by Aphex Twin was also a huge influence. During a phase where I was taking far too much acid with friends it was the only thing that could make me sleep. Despite there being some quite terrifying moments, I took a strange comfort in the dark sounds of that album and I think that was the one that made me realise that darkness and tension can be as good a compositional device in ambient music as more obvious peaceful sounds.
During my time at DMU in Leicester I was also lucky enough to have some great teachers and was introduced to acousmatic music which certainly reignited my interest in found sound and field recordings in general. A lot of the work I did during this time had a lasting impact on the way I approach all kinds of music now.
Are you influenced by a particular place or time?
I think I'll always been influenced by my earlier experiences growing up, as a musician and as a listener. The endless new music to hear, and collective experience of sharing techniques and approaches with friends and other music makers had a lasting impact. We'd spend a lot of our time sat in the forest listening to the music we'd been making and generally enjoying the surroundings and the lack of responsibilities back then. It was also around this time of getting deeper into producing that I was doing a lot more improvising with a friend who lived nearby, so we'd typically be jamming more jazzy instrumental stuff by day, and I'd go home and make electronic beats by night. These experiences probably had the most lasting influence on my work in the subsequent years.
These days I still get a lot of inspiration from being outside in peaceful spaces lost in some existential thoughts. Whilst my earlier music was more of a therapeutic experience for me and captured a bit more emotion, I think a lot of my more recent output is music which reflects these spaces and the sense of calm felt at the time.
Tell us about the Monday mixtape you’ve put together for us.
I've done chilled and ambient mixes in the past which covered my influences over the years, whereas this mix features a lot more recent material of mine and stuff I'd get on promo that I really enjoyed playing and listening to at home, but wasn't the sort of thing you can play out. So I had a nice folder of tracks I wanted to do something with and the Monday mixtape was a great opportunity to do that. I wouldn't call it an ambient mix, but it definitely features some ambient tracks and random sketches of mine alongside some more chilled tracks I've liked over the years.
If it were a food what would it be?
A warm bowl of soup on a cold winters day. Possibly laced with valium.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
Listening on headphones late at night, somewhere dark with few distractions.
What should we be wearing?
Ideally some nice 100% cotton lounge pants. Smoking jacket is optional.
Where was it recorded?
It's a studio mix, so was made in my little music room in Bristol overlooking a Victorian cemetery late at night.
Are you on the same wavelength as the boomtown rats or do you actually like Mondays?
I have no issues with Mondays. Though that's probably because I have no idea what day it is most of the time due to my bizarre sleeping patterns and the general cliches associated with creative folk.
Who got you hooked on electronic music?
I think it was a series of events rather than one person that got me hooked. Whilst most the music I grew up listening to as a child was guitar focussed, there was some 70s and 80s synth workouts lurking in the background, so I was always open to it. I got my first drum machine and 4 track when I was 13 which I'd mainly use to create backing tracks for guitar based compositions, but I loved the ability to make music on my own. Whilst I'd used Cubase prior to that at school, it wasn't until a few years later that I actually got into making 'beats' using software. It was after years of playing in bands which all inevitably fizzled out, so it seemed like a better use of my time. I was also less angry with the world, and my recreational activities around the time definitely suited making general midi rip offs of Selected Ambient Works and LTJ Bukem a lot more than shredding on a guitar at high volume.
Who would you say are your biggest influences and what are you hoping to achieve with your music?
In terms of my more chilled output I'd say that Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, LTJ Bukem, Global Communication and Brian Eno were probably my biggest influences when I was starting out.
For any of my tracks or mixes, the best case scenario I can ever imagine is to create an emotional response with the listener. Music is a drug. If it helps take the edge off the lows, or expand the highs then I'm happy with the result. I think that is a reflection of a lot of the non electronic music I was listening to during more difficult times, where the emotional potency of stuff like Tool and Tori Amos helped me channel my emotions creatively, so if my own stuff can do that for someone else then I think my goals have been achieved.
What were your original aspirations as a musician and how do you think you're shaping up?
I never had aspirations as a musician other than wanting to progress and develop my skills and experiences. I think it was in my mid 20s that I started to predict a sense of regret towards the end of my life had I not given music a proper push, which actually made me more proactive with it. So I think in terms of what I've achieved, I've passed what little aspirations I did have a very long time ago. Though if you're talking creatively I feel I'm only really beginning to accept myself musically and personally, so in terms of my work I'm only just getting started as I'm always thinking several albums ahead of the ones I'm working on as I can already sense ideas I want to try out and different ways of framing the creative process.
I'm lucky enough to be doing something I love, so if the world ended tomorrow I don't think I'd have any issues with how I've approached things or what I've achieved. There are a few albums I'd happily burn in the fires of hell if given the chance, but these days I try and look forward a lot more than dwelling on mistakes in the past. I'm definitely feeling more positive about my future musical endeavours than I ever have before, so I'm always very grateful for those friends and family who've helped me reach that point.
Buy the release HERE.