We Chat With Phaction About His New EP On C.I.A & Premiere ‘Tonight’
Posted by Adam on 24th April 2017
With releases on Fokuz, Liquicity & Soulvent already under his belt Phaction is a name that has become more and more prevalent over the last 12 months. His next release is the Signature Moves EP which sees him make his debut on Total Sciences’ highly respected C.I.A imprint so we had a chat with him to see what he’e been up to and to talk about the EP.
Hi Alex, how’s things?
Things are very good thanks! How are you?
Good thanks! We last spoke about almost year ago, what have you been up to since then?
Quite a bit now I look back at the past 12 months, mainly I’ve been keeping my head down, churning out ideas and focusing on honing the production. It’s been 4 and a bit years since I started taking production seriously, I think its going to be a never-ending journey, driven by the passion for experiencing music. Theres always more to learn, more to listen to and get inspired by! Because I love discovering new and old artists I feel like theres so much more to explore and to take into my own productions.
Release wise I’ve done my first collab with GLXY, in ‘These Words’ which we are really proud of, a friend and I made a music vid for that one around Bristol which was a really fun experience! Alongside that I did collabs with Harriet Standen and Katkin Willow, both of which turned out really well. The tune Fantasy has been remixed by Spectrasoul too, thats coming out on vinyl on Fokuz very soon, big ups to Marco on that one, super stoked that they picked mine to remix! I’ve yet to meet Jack and Dave (Spectrasoul) in person but I’m sure we will soon.
Aside from that I’ve been holding down a 9-5 and with my time off doing one to one tuition for newcomers in and around Bristol, some have come from London specifically for a day, and they seem to find our sessions really useful. I find teaching others very rewarding, especially when you see the progress someone is making with your guidance, and when you meet students with a passion like you have, thats very inspiring in itself!
I have signed with Reach Artists who are a great group of people working to change the live music industry by establishing a system where artists are paid fairly and promoters can source the best line ups to suit their crowds. I played at my first Hospitality in the Park event in London back in September with Soulvent, which was huge fun!
You’ve worked with a lot of labels over the last 12 months or so, how have you ended up working with C.I.A?
It started when Fokuz brought Total Science in to remix the title track from my ‘Stratos’ EP. Smithy & Quiff sent me a draft version to get my thoughts and I hit them back with some ideas to finish it, I believe it’s important to establish a good dialogue between parties with any remix project, and never to be shy or afraid to voice your thoughts & make constructive suggestions when someone sends you what they’ve done. I think having this approach went a long way in establishing a rapport with Smithy in particular. He could see I really cared about the finished article and I think that lead to him asking to hear more music from me.
I sent him a couple drafts I had been working on, some where already spoken for, but they gave him an idea with the direction I was taking my sound. He asked to be kept in the loop on future bits, with a view to putting something out on CIA. I remember that morning very well, I was as you can imagine, really stoked and excited for the future! CIA is one of those labels you feel a sense of prestige with, they may not release often, but when they do its always that high quality, deep rooted signature, that sound which got me into DnB in the first place. So yeh, 10 months later and after a lot of hard work, some failed ideas/directions and some head against wall moments, we finally had a five track EP down haha!
Doing CIA EP has been possibly the best challenge and experience I’ve had since day one, taking it on really pushed me to write a lot of new material and explore the sounds and vibe I wanted to convey with my music. Smithy and Quiff are both really on top of their production game and as a result they have a lot of good suggestions when it comes to the fine details, I feel like their mentorship and guidance has pushed me further up than I could imagine at this point in time, so I owe a lot to them. I think a part of my philosophy with production is quality over quantity! I admit I could definitely write more music, and I’m working on doing the writing thing quicker, but on a personal level, as an artist, wouldn’t you rather put out a few really strong releases and be positive that they are all your best efforts?
There’s a couple of collaborations on your new EP including I Have You which features Leo Wood, how did that come about?
Leo and I started working on music back in 2014 when I was just getting my teeth into things, since then we’ve done a handful of projects, some of which yet aren’t out in the open. With I Have You, I took a prominent RnB vocal sample and worked out a set of hooks and cuts from it, then Leo came in for a recording session and improvised over what I had created at that point, it was all jazz piano and basic drums back then, as usual with Leo it didn’t take her long to have a solid set of vocals recorded. Then the tune slowly evolved over time, in fact its probably the longest project to I’ve ever completed (having started it almost 3 years ago!). On reflection, there’s no specific reason for it taking so long to finish, but I’d put some of it down to the usual bout of perfectionism that us nutty producers deal with. In my experience, some of the best tunes are written in less than a day, but I’m really happy with this one being a slow burner, so it goes to show there is no right way of doing things when it comes to production!
You’ve also joined forces with Hugh Hardie, who you’ve worked with before, on Signature Moves. How did that hookup start and do you get in the studio together or is it all done online?
Hugh’s been supporting my music since my first release (‘Someone’ on Liquicity 2014), and we met shortly after that at the Liquifyah nights in Bristol. We happen to live in close proximity now too which is sweet for establishing the studio time, sometimes we just have a jam without even making any music! Every month or so we get into the studio for a serious session and create without limitation, let the projects evolve on their own. Sometimes we make some weird ideas, but they might then lead to making something special. I think ‘If Only’ was a good example of that, we toiled at that idea for months before it got to a stage we were both happy with.
‘Signature Moves’ came together a lot quicker, it changed shape maybe 2-3 times before the finished idea was there. I think Hugh and I understand each other in terms of the sounds and vibe we want to hear, we just love soulful, vibey music.
We’ve been lucky enough to premiere ‘Tonight’ from the EP which is a wicked roller with a gritty edge – do you feel like you’ve found your “sound” now or is that something that will always evolve?
A wise producer passed on some advice to me at a night recently and I wont forget it, he said ‘Your sound will evolve and establish itself over time, you wont necessarily know you’ve achieved it until the listeners start noting it. Just keep writing and things will fall into place.’. I think with that in mind, Im still in the place of finding my sound, but with the CIA stuff I’ve just put out, it definitely feels like it’s on the right path.
What’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2017? Have you thought about an album?!
Since the EP has been doing the rounds before release, I’ve been in contact with some of my favourite producers including Lenzman, Foreign Concept & Halogenix. I also had a phone conversation with Goldie last week (which was as surreal as you can imagine!), he thought Should Have Known was my best work to date, and that if I can deliver something that’s right for him and the label, we can look at doing an EP project for Headz sometime in the future. Metalheadz has been a goal of mine since day one to be honest, and speaking with him gave me a big boost of confidence and inspiration to move forward into this year. I think if you really want something, you’re willing to work hard and put your soul into it, you can make it happen.
So I’m working out my next moves now, including what I want to convey with the next projects and labels I’d like to release on. I’ve started some exciting collaborations too including writing a track the lovely & talented Riya for her next EP, working with Fluidity on projects (who is a beast in the studio) and Becca Jane Grey, a very talented, soulful singer/songwriter. I’ve been booked for my first international gig at Liquicity Festival in Holland which I’m buzzing for and I’ve just put back 2 tracks for another label I’ve had in my sights on, I can’t say which yet but its one of the big ones. :)
Thanks! Is there anything else you want to tell us about?
That’s all I’m giving you for now! Keep your ears locked on my Facebook for more news soon :)