Phaeleh Interview: Words With The Bristolian Bass God

Welcome back everybody!  Hope the weekend treated you well, let the countdown to next weekend begin!  Today is the biggest day in Bassweight Society’s history.  We were fortunate enough to sit down and grab a few words from, in my opinion (Kinman), the best all-around producer in the game right now.  Matt Preston, also known as Phaeleh (pronounced “Fella”, say it with me now….Phae’leh), has been taking ears by storm over the past couple of years.  His music, taking influence from such a vast pool of styles, cannot be pigeonholed into a particular genre.  A lot of people label him as an ambient dubstep producer, which he most certainly does produce, but then what about tunes like Caustic Storm and Untitled 333?  It is a man who transcends genre, bpm, and any other sort of boundary, which to me is the utmost form of artistic expression.  As we have said in previous posts, dubstep began as a limitless concept, and the music that Phaeleh produces is one of the last to stay true to that base.  This is the very reason that Phaeleh has been, up until recently with Akira Kiteshi, the only artist to gain releases on Chemical Records label Afterglo.  Being trained in classical music, Phaeleh brings an insurmountable field of foundational knowledge that many producers lack these days.  The amount of emotion and vibes that are emitted from his productions is honestly mind-boggling but most importantly, extremely uplifting.  Whether it is a one of his extremely deep, dark, and sub-heavy tracks like those mentioned above or it is an ambient, soulfoul, and beatifully drenched vocal tune like The Cold In You or Breath In Air, the man captures the entire spectrum of what it is like to feel, as a human-being.  His humble approach to life has gained him much appreciation, respect, and dedication from his fans.  I remember reading an interview he did with Kmag back in March of 2011 and when asked about his humbleness, he stated ” I think it’s just because what separates me is that it took me a very long time to get noticed by the scene, so I am just very appreciative of anyone reaching out.”  It’s just plain inspiring to see a musician who refuses to let the fame, recognition, and lifestyle go to their head.  The man is an ultimate boss and shows no signs of letting up in the near future.  Already gaining releases on top-notch labels like Wheel & Deal, Afterglo, Black Box, and Disfigured Dubz, 2012 holds another year filled with releases and forward-thinking for Phaeleh.  The utmost amount of respect goes out to this guy from the Bassweight Society crew!  For your time and for the music that you write.  Take a peek at what the man like Phaeleh has to say:

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BWS: Quickly, tell us about yourself.  Where you grew up, how did you get into music, that sort of thing.

Hi, my name is Matt and I’m a producer based in Bristol best known for writing chilled beats. I grew up in rural Wiltshire about 30 minutes east of Bristol. I got into music through playing piano and later guitar as a kid and generally from listening to the music my parents were playing when I was growing up.

 BWS: Coming from the Mecca of Dubstep music (UK), do you see yourself as being “one step ahead” of producers that hail from countries outside of the UK?

I’d never say that, as I think it’s quite dismissive and arrogant. I don’t think creativity is tied down to specific locations. Admittedly a lot of sounds might begin here, but I know great producers based all over the world, and think geography has little to do with how good your tunes are.

BWS: We know that you are able to play quite a few instruments.  Where did you gain your musical knowledge/skills?  How often are you producing with analog hardware as opposed to digital instrumentation?

I’d say I learnt most things from my classical guitar teacher I had from about the age of 11 or 12. I was fortunate to have a good music teacher at school who had me using cubasis from the age of about 13 or 14. I also learnt most of my theory whilst I was studying contemporary music at college when I was 16. I think I’ve been very lucky with the teachers I had over the years! In terms of hardware, I have a lot, though only a couple of drum machines are analog. I do like the warmth of it, but I prefer the instant factor of working with software and not having to record everything to audio straight away. But to be honest I don’t have a set approach to any of my music making, so will just use whatever sounds best for a given situation.

BWS: Seeing that the style of your production is so unique and that the quality of your tunes is of the highest calibre, what do you recommend to upcoming producers in the sense of programs to use, or education to seek?  

There’s no right or wrong bit of software to use. I use Cubase as I know it inside out and it suits my workflow. But I know wicked producers who use Fruityloops, Ableton and Logic (I can’t get my head around that one though). I think the best thing to do is to link up with people you know who produce and get tips off of them, ask to watch them use the software, maybe write a tune together. You’d be amazed how much quicker it is to pick something up working with someone rather than from just magazine/youtube tutorials.

BWS: You have, without a doubt, one of the most distinct sounds within Dubstep, or Electronic music for that matter.  When writing your music, are you consciously trying to recreate a specific sound from within your head?  Or do you prefer letting the music create its own sound through trial and error?

I always just let the music go where it needs to. I don’t ever approach a track with a sound or goal in mind. I might be able to predict the kind of vibe it will have, as the music is always a reflection of my mood or headspace, but that’s about it.

BWS: The emotion that you are able to instill into your music is truly unrivaled.  People have been known to say that your sets have brought upon them, literally, tears of joy.  Where do you gain a majority of influence for your productions and how do you go about incorporating that into your sounds?

Thanks! I was always interested in more emotional music as a teenager, and pretty much exclusively listened to Tool and Tori Amos for several years, so I think that had a massive influence on my writing. But I’d say life was always my biggest influence. My most popular tracks are those I’ve normally written after some kind of personal crises which has left me feeling somewhat miserable. I’m just glad I can turn those moments into music which people can enjoy, whilst also being quite therapeutic for me.

BWS: Who are your 3 favorite artists outside of the Bass music scene?  If I stole your Ipod right now, what would I find on it?

Tool, Brian Eno, The Prodigy (first 2 albums only).

BWS: In your circle of fellow producers who has been you’re mentor or biggest influence and why?

I’d say DJ Madd has been the biggest help/supporter of my music. I wasn’t really that well known when I met him, but he definitely helped give me a kick up the ass when I needed one and helped a lot with networking and pushing my sounds, so really appreciate his influence with that.

BWS: Which American producer do you most favor, if any, or who would you most like to collaborate with from here in the US, and why?

I’ve always really liked what VVV has been producing, so I’d have to pick him. I’ve already done a collab with him though, so guess I should say someone like Skrillex to just get more gigs 😛

BWS: There has been rumors circulating for some time about you doing a live performance.  Is this something that you have in the works at the moment?

Well I did ‘Live Sets’ for years before I started DJing, either laptop based or with grooveboxes, even using custom built software with hardware if you go back far enough. To do it again though I’d really want to take it to the next level and involve a lot of live musicians, and I’d probably play guitar and bass and do some live looping/manipulation. There’s nothing solid planned unfortunately as it would cost a lot for all the musicians, but I’m hoping after the next album there may be an opportunity to work within a more traditional band context. I’d really like to write an album specifically for a band setup so that it could be toured properly, whilst still doing versions of existing tunes. It’s definitely something I want to do in the future though, as there’s only so much DJing you can do, and my ears are feeling the punishment.

BWS: What’s your take on the vinyl culture?  Are you a collector of vinyl yourself?  We know that travelling from gig to gig and carrying crates of records can be a lot of work, but do you find that the benefit of playing those tunes on wax out at the club has a sort of appeal to you?

To be brutally honest, I’ve only DJ’d for a couple of years, and do it out of necessity rather than a love of vinyl culture. I love how some tunes sound on vinyl, but then other tunes I prefer the sound of a WAV as it isn’t so limited in the stereo field and has a lot less compression and aggressive EQ. I’ve got massive respect for the DJs who play strictly vinyl, but the issues in clubs with dodgy equipment, costs of vinyl and the weight when travelling mean I’ll be a CDJ warrior for now.

BWS: From following you on facebook it looks like you’ve played a lot of spots throughout Europe.  What are a couple of the best gigs you’ve played in terms venue and crowd?

I love playing everywhere in Europe to be fair, though guess some of my favourite gigs have been in Holland, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania. You get different crowds in each country, but I find gigs outside the UK have a lot more emphasis on the music, rather than people just turning up and wanting to get messy.

BWS: Tell us more about Afterglo.  From the looks of it, up until recently, you’ve been the only artist releasing tunes on that label.  How did that come about?  Also, we know you head your own label Urban Scrumping, started back in ’08.  What’s the motivation behind a Producer to head his own label and what can we expect to see released in the near future.

Afterglo is based at Chemical Records and was setup as a project for working with albums for artists which don’t just fit into a simple pigeonhole. I was really lucky to link up with Mark and Ian who run it, as they put a lot of time and effort into it. I think Mark heard some of my tunes from DJ Thinking who runs the Blackbox and Box Clever labels. He really liked what he heard so I linked up to chat about a potential project, and I was really pleased with their ideas. I was the first artist they worked with, but the next few releases are all from Akira Kiteshi (seriously keep your eyes peeled for his album, it’s next level). I don’t think they’re in a rush to get a massive roster of artists and would rather work on one project at a time. I’m currently writing another album for them, so really looking to working on that with them!

In terms of Urban Scrumping, I set it up as a way of getting my tunes out there, as most labels never got back to me or just suggested that it wasn’t real dubstep and I was an idiot for thinking anyone would ever want to buy it or release it. I released a few mates tunes as well on the label, but have found it’s been on the back burner since the Phaeleh stuff has been going well. Hopefully do some more releases in the future, but currently figuring out the best plan for the label in the long run.

BWS: Do you have any side projects in the works that we should keep an eye out for?

I’m writing such a diverse range of music at the moment that I have considered putting out some of the more house or dnb tempo stuff under an alias, but I’m still making my mind up about that. I also really want to do a proper ambient, no beats release at some point. Not sure I could get away with that under the Phaeleh name, so might have to use something different for that too.

BWS: What’s 2012 hold for Phaeleh? Hopefully not the end of the world haha.  You had an American tour planned a bit earlier this year but it fell through.  Can we expect to see you coming this way and blessing us with some shows in the upcoming year? 

Well working on my new album will be my priority for the first half of the year. Hopefully it won’t take that long, but I’ve given myself 6 months to get it finished.

I was gutted the tour in 2011 fell through, but these things happen. I’m wiser from the experience so hopefully when I do make it over there won’t be the risk of something like that happening again. Really want to make it over, as always get such great support from America, so would be awesome to play some shows over there!

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Phaeleh’s Facebook

Phaeleh’s Soundcloud

There you have it!  Straight from the dragon’s mouth.  A massive thanks to Phaeleh for doing this interview for us.  If you haven’t already, check out Phaeleh’s pages (above) and show him some more love from the states!  Check in tomorrow for some more good music.  And if you haven’t checked out the Bassweight Society Facebook page, DO IT!!! >>>>>> Bassweight Society Facebook

To the gods.

_bassweightsociety (Kinman)

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One response to “Phaeleh Interview: Words With The Bristolian Bass God

  1. Pingback: FREE beats from Perverse, Phaeleh, and NDread | Bassweight Society

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