TAKING us into the middle of the week...
is the mighty Phildel. She has been telling me about her latest track, Glide Dog, and her upcoming album, Wave Your Flags – she tells me about some albums that are important to her and whether there are rising acts we need to look for.
I ask how a strict childhood impacted her and what effect music has; whether there are tour dates coming up and how she manages to unwind away from her busy career – Phildel chooses a great Elbow track to end the interview with.
Hi, Phildel. How are you? How has your week been?
Great, thank you. I've spent most of it wrapping string around a life-size mannequin. It’s a prop for my next music video….
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a British music artist who focuses on creating unique sonic landscapes. My songs are emotionally driven - inspired by my experiences.
What can you tell me about Glide Dog? How did the song come together?
Glide Dog arose from a number of things...
For a while I’d had an image in my mind of a song. It was like an abstract diagram where each line represented a different instrument in the arrangement. It was a sparse image. I’ve sketched it below…
I translated the image into music and assigned different instruments to each part. For example, the blue represents the consistent foundation of the bass-line; the black are the toms; the red is the striking programmed snare; yellow for the piano - minimally placed and green for the vocals.
Then, when it came to vocal recording, I was sitting improving at the microphone and, for some reason, the music lead me into a playful, vampiric zone...and from that place I wrote the verses. The choruses were written in a different mindset. I think, on one hand, I was finding the darkest places within myself where there is an enjoyment of destruction and carnage. I think, especially as a woman, the playful, dominant power-play of the song, with a mix of sinister yet sexual overtones, feels like an interesting space to embody. It has a sentiment of ‘I’ve been sexually objectified all my life by casual onlookers’. It has been painful and horrible. And now, deep down, I just want to inflict f**kloads of pain on people who have any sexual interest: “Skin don’t mean a thing/your skin don’t mean a thing, no”. “I need more blood than you could pour, love”; “I need more pain to remember your name”.
It’s easy to assume I might be talking about myself wanting to feel more pain - but the pain I’m looking for is the pain I can successfully inflict in others.
Just to point out, this isn’t me in my day-to -day life! (I’m in a solid, fifteen-year loving relationship with a wonderful man - we have two kids and plenty of harmony). But, this is some deeper, darker part of myself that has been injured and carries this voice which I’m expressing in this song.
Wave Your Flags is your upcoming album. What sort of ideas are expressed throughout the record?
There’s some incredibly reflective and philosophical moments in the album. Glorious is about moving on and thriving despite some of the worse injustices and betrayals. Lamb is about being there to take responsibility for and heal the wounds of your inner-self. I think, to sum it up, the album is about human resilience.
It is your first album in five years. What was the reason for the slight gap?
It usually takes me about eight years to put an album together (I spend a long time experimenting with arrangements and sometimes I need to wait to grow as a person before I can, say, write a middle-eight), so, actually, this is fast work for me. In the five years I also had my twin boys, Dylan and Finn. That’s been an amazing new journey.
Is it true you had quite a strict childhood? Were musical and artistic desires not encouraged?
Yes. My mother re-married a religious man when I was eight. He believed music was against his religion and all music was banished from our home. I left there at seventeen to pursue music.
Can you describe what music does to you? Is it a form of emotional release?
Absolutely. And I think it’s the most effective way in which I can communicate. Which is why it feels so satisfying. We all want to be heard, empathised with and understood. And I feel with the complexity of both difficult and euphoric life experiences, music is one of the best mediums to convey the full feeling in a way that others will deeply feel also.
Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?
There have been so many. I think going to the album signing table at Vancouver Festival after playing to a completely new audience of about one-hundred people and then seeing a hundred people line up to buy my C.D. and get it signed was a truly touching experience.
I know you have been supported by various stations and outlets. How does it make you feel knowing your music resonates and connects with people?
It feels wonderful to know it’s out there being heard. Although, I should mention that music is more a creative journey for me, as opposed to a fame-seeking thing. The audience/exposure aspect is not nearly as significant as the process of creating. I think where I find real reward, though, in terms of reception, is when someone lets me know the music has helped them through a difficult time.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
I tend to take a year to listen to an album and I’ve probably only heard about ten in my lifetime. I loved Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid. There were a few songs in that I felt represented a real milestone. Such as the loving intimate caring communication between two men that are friends in Friend of Ours. Most of all I loved the musical arrangements and lyric writing in the album. I think it’s the best album ever to win the Mercury award. I enjoyed Imogen Heap’s album, Speak for Yourself, for her unique production. And I also loved The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, again for songwriting and production.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Elbow. In terms of rider: loads of chocolate.
What are your plans regarding gigs/touring?
We’ll be playing a U.K. tour later this year with a possible couple of U.S.A. dates too.
Is there any advice you’d give to upcoming artists?
Enjoy and savour every moment of the journey. No matter what level you are at.
IN THIS PHOTO: Cub Sport/PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Andersen Jnr
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Nope, I never stop really. When I’m not working I’m chasing my two-year-old twinados around. A few times a year I like to visit the spa...
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Thanks! I’d choose Elbow’s The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver