For new listeners, how would you describe your sound?
My sound is somewhere between golden era hip hop and neo-soul. For my first EP, I really wanted to produce a body of work that pulled a lot of inspiration from my influences. At the moment my music is reflecting a lot of the music Mum played when I was growing up; Erykah Badu, Tribe Called Quest, Aaliyah, De La Soul and D’Angelo. At the moment when I write tracks, I tend to use more old-school production techniques like using drum machines or sampling drum breaks straight from vinyl. I also try to incorporate some live instrumentals into my tracks like playing the sax.
Since playing your first live show, how was the last year been for you?
The past 12 months have been such an amazing learning experience for me as an artist. I just got flown back from London where I graduated in Abbey Road Studios. I’ve spent the past year studying music production at Abbey Road Institute in Melbourne, meeting and collaborating with some amazingly talented producers including Charlotte Adelle who toplined two tracks off my EP.
In between working on the EP and studying I’ve played live shows in some great venues around the city like The Toff, Grumpy’s, The Channel and Workshop bar alongside so many incredible producers like Walla C, Spectoral, RaRaRaj, Houg, The Delivery Boy and so many more.
One of the big highlights of my past year was winning the Today’s Future Sound Beat Battle. I entered this event 12 months ago and made it into the second round but I had to leave because I wasn’t 18 yet.
It was the highlight for me because it made me realise that all of the hard work and effort I put into learning music production and finding my sound during those 12 months really started to pay off. Today’s future sound is a non-profit organisation that is doing dope things for the kids and the hip hop community worldwide, definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.
Tell us about your Wave Length EP.
Wave Length is a 6six-track project that I produced, recorded and mixed in my home studio and at Abbey Road Institute. It features a few of my friends, Sadiva and Charlotte Adelle provided the smooth R&B toplines while Daniel Tucker and New York rapper Soul Journal provided the conscious raps. Most of these songs I produced with an artist in mind, I really wanted to have uplifting lyricism as a theme throughout. Being associated with a positive message is a big part of what I want to do musically.
From a production perspective, I was really focused on the tonal quality and vibe of the tracks. The vast majority of beats today are produced using only digital sounds on the computer and digital hardware, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, I love the imperfections and warmth of analog hardware and I wanted to produce these tracks using analog gear from start to finish. Wave Length was produced using only drum machines, samplers and synths from the ‘80s and ‘90s and was mixed and mastered on a big analog desk.
The EP has been self-released and is available for streaming and download on all platforms and streaming services as well as a limited edition run of cassette tapes and CDs which you can buy on my Bandcamp.
What can we expect from a Phoenix Manson live show?
I tend to arrange my tracks live in Ableton so no two performances are ever the same. One of the main things I’m starting to focus on in my performances is getting away from the laptop on stage and being more focused on other live elements like getting down on the MPC and the sax.
For my EP listening party I’ll be performing the whole project from start to finish. I will be sharing the stage with singers, rappers and some other collaborators.
Tell us about Melbourne’s beat making scene.
The beat making scene in Melbourne is such a diverse and welcoming community, everybody wants to share knowledge and tips on what they do. You can hear everything from the trap producers to the Lo-fi hip hop guys on the same night.
We have nights like Beatlab that give any bedroom producer the opportunity to get out of their home studio and onto a stage with an audience to play their beats, no matter how long they’ve been working at it. It’s opportunities like these that break down the barrier to entry and encourage artists to grow, which keeps Melbourne so creative and innovative.
Over the past year, I’ve been involved with the running of Beat Collective which is an awesome community of music producers who take part in our fortnightly challenge. Every fortnight Beat Collective provide two samples which producers have to incorporate into a new song, thus keeping up a regular practice of challenging themselves and improving their skills. Once you have taken part in a BC challenge you then have the opportunity to play a set at our Beat Collective Sessions that we run at the Workshop Bar and a slot on our TRNSMT live streaming podcast that I Co-host with Ben Willis. If you are interested in getting involved and want to find out more about what we do you can check out beatcollective.net.