It’s been 8 years since his 1st solo project, Psycho, and since then Phace has cemented his place as one of the most exciting names to watch in D&B. He’s just released his 2nd solo album, Shape the Random, on his Neosignal imprint, and simply put, it’s a beast. We caught up with the talented producer to chat about the album and more…
Big up Phace! How’s 2015 treating you so far?
Thank you kindly! So far 2015 has been an absolutely great, joyful and exciting but also extremely hectic year. I think things have never been better for me, both musically but even more important within my life and emotional well-being in general. I feel very fulfilled, surrounded by great people and thankful to be able to do what I love.
That’s great to hear! ‘Shape the Random’ just dropped on Neosignal, what a diverse release! How long did it take to complete?
Thank you again! I am very delighted to hear you like the music. I’m quite overwhelmed by all the great responses I’ve had to the album. Even by producers not working in drum & bass. I didn’t expect that. I worked on the whole record for pretty much one year. I did ensure to take my time, as over all the years I realised things should not be rushed. All that matters is to dedicate all you have to it. Your mind will then tell you when things are complete and right.
Well said. It’s your 2nd solo album, what was the concept behind it?
The concept was not to have any instructions but to be free. I did not want to write music that follows a specific aim or feels calculated. I wanted the music to be inspired by the writing sessions themselves and wanted to keep an even balance between not focusing only on the technical side of music production, but also on keeping the songwriting exciting and not just loop based or plain loud.
Generally in the electronic music industry these days the difference between a hit and non-hit basically is repetition and having the right vocal, impact and loudness. The older I get, most of that stuff does zero to me. I like my music to follow its own rules and I like music that is interesting and entertaining to listen to or simply makes people happy or dance!
That’s how it should be! 🙂 You recently made ‘Digital Diet’ available as a free download. On behalf of everyone, thanks!! What made you decide to give it away for free?
You’re very welcome. With the free track giveaway I simply wanted to give my loyal fans and supporters a little something back to enjoy for free. I’m very thankful to have such great followers. Although, to me, music generally shouldn’t be free. Music is the musician’s livelihood, his/her job. And I’m especially talking about all the underground musicians out there working hard to be able to get along by following their musical visions, no matter how niche or leftfield they might be. Everyone should have the chance to follow their dream and say ‘I want to become a musician and I want to make a living at it’. And why shouldn’t they be afforded a living this way? With things like Spotify or full album free giveaways in my opinion the music industry has run itself into the ground and the underground/small acts will suffer, and do suffer already.
Times are changing quite rapidly aren’t they? Especially within the music industry… Do you feel like your production style has changed drastically since ‘Psycho’?
Well it’s been 8 years since Psycho, so of course I hope there has been a progression in my music. If you don’t go forward, you go backwards.
Absolutely. Was there a track on the album that was particularly frustrating to complete?
I think Monochrome took me the longest, as it contains many varying sections, grooves and moods. I started it right when I decided to work on the LP and finished it last.
Monochrome happens to be my personal favourite! Love the way it progresses. What’s your personal favourite and why?
They are all my babies! The tracks I can listen to anytime are Shape the Random, Exit Plan and My Mind Is Modular though.
You’re playing b2b with Rockwell when Shogun Audio returns to London this weekend. How do you approach a b2b set? Is it almost like you’re going in to battle?
To me playing B2B should be fun and something spontaneous. I do not feel like going into a battle, as I am not into this whole ‘music competition game’ or ‘rat race’ at all and I also feel I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I want to enjoy what I do and give other people a good time.
What have you got planned for the set?
Mainly to play new material from my LP and maybe to also test some new bits I’ve just started working on ☺
Noticed you and Rockwell have been working in the studio together recently… What’s been cooking?
That is correct. I had Tom over here in Hamburg in January and we worked on two tracks. Both aren’t finished yet, so nothing is planned in detail at this stage.
Speaking of visitors to your studio – Mefjus and Current Value have also been spotted… Lots of collabs on the horizon then?
Yes, I recently went in the studio with Martin and Tim. Both are great guys and I am happy to call them friends. I highly respect them as people and their music as well. After I finished writing my solo LP I simply enjoyed to work and vibe on music with other people again.
I also have a new collab with Noisia too which we already finished last year but it didn’t really fit the vibe of LP. I still need to make a concrete plan about what I am going to do next with new music and even more importantly, when. At the moment and for the next few months the focus is all on my new LP and touring. I’m not in a hurry and I want to take my time.
Mefjus features on the album on ‘The Mothership’ as well. BIG tune! Is it easier to collab with someone you’ve worked with before?
I do love ‘The Mothership’ as well as it is so different and so not what people would expect from a Phace & Mefjus collab. I guess everyone would have expected it to be a full-on banger. I love energetic music and to rock out, don’t get me wrong. But to me that simply isn’t the end of the road and I find it quite tiring when all music is produced only to function on the dancefloor the best possible way. Sometimes it feels to me that no DJ wants to risk losing a moving crowd anymore by playing something odd. I personally enjoy playing out music that is a little different or leftfield, even if people will stop to move and simply listen. I am not afraid to confuse or ‘wake up’ a dancefloor that has been lulled with the same repetitive grooves and sounds for hours.
And to get back to your actual question; to collab with someone I worked before can make things easier but it doesn’t necessarily have to. For example I’ve not worked with Current Value before and when we went in the studio a few weeks ago it worked out really smooth and fun. What is more important to me is that you get along well with each other and that you have a similar musical vibe and workflow and do not only talk about music and gear all day.
I caught you at Let It Roll Winter edition a couple of weeks ago – what a mental set! Do you prefer playing at big festivals like that, or more intimate clubs?
Thank you! That indeed was one crazy night! I like both but I personally prefer more intimate club nights without such big stages and more direct contact with the crowd. I don’t mind big stages in general; it is absolutely great fun to play your music for such big crowds and I am very thankful I have the chance to do so. Just I tend to not feel that comfortable on big stages, as I do not like to be in the focus too much and do not feel like playing the role of a solo entertainer. I love to interact with the people, but on my own terms and without constant spotlights.
Understandable! Do you take the opportunity to work on tunes when you’re on the road, or do you feel your creative process flows better when you’re in the studio?
I do prefer to work in my studio, with my full setup, alone, my mobile switched off, when it’s dark out there and the planet sleeps. But I actually just started to look into a light and small travel setup I can take on tour to lay out ideas and inspirations as they come. I usually listen to music, do Sudoku’s or read while travelling, but would now love to be able to work on musical ideas without needing to carry a heavy or bigger laptop.
Name 3 random facts about yourself…
I love black.
I am allergic to cats.
I can whistle like a hummingbird.
Ha! Hidden talent eh? 😉 What’s coming up next for you?
Even more LP touring! Check all the dates here.
Thank you kindly for the feature and big up to anyone supporting my music!
Shape The Random is out now.
Catch Phace at Basslaced Presents: Shogun Audio in London on March 20th. Tickets available here.