Phinesse, Solo Rebirth: Breaking New Grounds

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Phinesse, Solo Rebirth: Breaking New Grounds


However, before we settle into chat about Winterbeatz, Devine is keen to clarify exactly what is happening in the Phinesse camp. As many of you will be aware, Phinesse functioned previously as a duo, but after last Winterbeatz, Devine found himself heading out to the States solo to rework tracks for his upcoming record “Reborn”. The album title is apt, given not only the new solo outing but also the reinvention of his sound. “This is a lot more pop than what we were doing before. We had an album all ready to release last year, but then I found myself on my own and so I had to re-record everything. This is all new material which I wrote and will be playing at Winterbeatz.”

With a bright and easy approach towards commercial crossover success, it seems apparent that the change in line-up has been met by Devine with an impassioned approach. Though he is not willing to discuss in detail the break up, he is unafraid to point out that the change, “Our whole album needed re-recording. We had finally got to the point where we had it ready, then he left and it was back to square one.” Though all he will say about his change in sound is that it is “more pop influenced”, he does reveal that “the mixtape I released earlier in the year gives you some idea of what to expect. But this is the first real release.”

His earlier admission of a competitive streak comes once again to the fore. Having found the recording process in the States to be very different to Australia, he admits, “They take very little time about it. They are all very professional about it. They just head into the studio and lay down the tracks whereas we take our time about it.” Yet, the new approach to creative output has encouraged Devine to aim higher. While at first he may have been unsure about the American way of recording, he found himself getting heavily involved and constantly wanting to raise the bar. “I think the Americans think that they are better at others at it. I think they saw me and thought what is this Australian going to be able to do, so I decided to prove myself and show what we Aussies are capable of.”

With his impending performance being used as a testing ground for his new material, the excited Devine admits to being a little bit anxious about the audience reaction. Though he clearly loves his new direction, he is a little uncertain about whether those that know his earlier work will embrace it as quickly. “I have played the new tracks to some people and all the feedback has been good. Everyone seems to really like” he boasts, before laughing, “Except my girlfriend that is.”

Not wishing to dwell on what was potentially a sensitive subject, I try to change tack only to find that Devine wants to explain further. “She is not really into r’n’b and hip hop, she is in a completely different scene.” With his girlfriend’s taste in music clarified, he exonerates his latest output from criticism, by stating “She never liked what I was doing before either. She doesn’t like any of my music.” With his domestic life brought to the fore, it has to be enquired as to whether she is at least supportive of his sound. With a clear change of tone in his voice, he seems genuinely pleased as he admits, “Yeah, she will always come to shows and things. But I just make sure I don’t look in her direction so I can’t see that she is not enjoying it.”

Though his girlfriend may only turn up for moral support, Devine reveals that he is looking forward to the chance for fans to see him on stage solo. “I guess with the two of us it was always good for getting a reaction of the crowd as we could just work off each other. But with me on my own, I just have to make sure I can work the crowd up.” Honestly admitting that he does not really have any tricks to the trade, he does reveal that he tries to ensure that his performance is of a consistent standard regardless of the reaction. “If an audience is shit, then that does not mean that I will be shit. But of course, it is easier if you have a good audience as it gives you something to bounce off.”

With little intimation as what punters might expect, Devine states that his set will focus upon his latest output as opposed to revisiting old works. It appears that Phinesse has been totally reborn and refreshed, with the new page comes a complete move away from the band’s former glory. Having already performed or worked alongside many of the big name performers at Winterbeatz, he admits that while he would “love to work with any of them,” he is really looking forward to seeing “Mario. I just love what he does and it will be great to see him.” Having found in the past that his fellow performers are grounded and down to earth, he has never sought critical feedback to help bolster his ego or his on stage presence. Though he is aware that many of his musical heroes have had the chance to see him perform live, he states matter of factly, “They’ve all seen me and they like what I do, but we don’t really talk about it. After a show it is normally just a case of them wanting to have a drink and chill out, which I am more than happy to do.”

With Winterbeatz clearly labelled high priority in his mind, Devine seems far from the kind to try and pin point his exact destiny. When askedabout what he has planned post-event, he simply laughs “Well, I want to try and get a few more new tracks down and get the album out there. It would be great to get it out internationally, but that might be difficult so we will just have to see how it goes here first.”

Far from pushing a point, Devine is assured in his own ability and seems to avoid questions about his personal ambitions. The easy go lucky,laugh a minute type of guy, his career is clearly based around his personal enjoyment as opposed to some dream of superstardom. Though he has worked with some of the industries finest, he has clearly learnt lessons from his journey to date. Having thought that he was on the right track a year back, he knows that everything can be whisked away again at a second’s notice. Rather than pin all his hopes on his dream, he would rather take each day as it comes and just hope that people enjoy what they hear.

While he may admit to nerves about learning what the Winterbeatz audience make to his new material, he is equally nonchalant about a poor response. With further studio time booked down the line, he knows that if Reborn doesn’t hit the right note, then there is nothing better than a little bit of reinvention to reinvigorate his passion.

Though he may have started our conversation with a declaration about competition, Devine is driven in his own way. While he knows he will succeed, he is making sure he has fun along the way.