Inspired by the unpredictability of modern life and the captivating electronic sounds of La Roux and New Order, Yorkshire-born, South London-based songwriter & producer Phé has recently shared her new EP, Moodboard. Blending her lush vocals with catchy beats, she’s created a collection of alt-pop soundscapes that meander through themes of self-acceptance and personal growth.
We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Phé to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired the music on her new EP. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to her Moodboard at the end of this post.
1. The Strokes – ‘Soma’
It was difficult to pick a favourite Strokes song, most of their lyrics resonate with me, but this one stands out at the moment because I can’t seem to stop playing it. I appreciate songwriters who are aware that they are flawed, especially those who don’t sugar-coat it in their lyrics. Whether they aim to resolve their flaws or not isn’t necessarily what’s important, but it’s their desire to creatively articulate what their weaknesses are in a way that people can relate to that I find inspiring. There’s so much passion and anger in Julian Casablancas’ voice and for some reason whenever I hear it I feel so overwhelmed that I well up, no matter how many times I listen to it. It could be something to do with nostalgia because they narrated most of my childhood, or maybe it’s the fact you can tell there’s so much pain behind it, but the way Casablancas sings just feels incredibly authentic.
2. The Cure – ‘Just Like Heaven’
Love songs are wonderful things and I find it so interesting how timeless they can become through people’s personal experiences of them. This is one of my favourites of all time and I always tend to re-visit it when I’m busy romanticizing my own life in short bursts. Writing songs is such a personal experience, and it’s difficult to not recoil in despair when you listen back to what you’ve made sometimes, usually because you know you’re listening to how you actually feel rather than distracting yourself at all costs. ‘Just Like Heaven’ reminds me that it’s nothing to be ashamed of to express how you feel in your lyrics. It’s easy to get in your own head when you’re working on a project and I often forget that when someone listens to my music they’ll be having their own completely unique emotional response and I find that pretty comforting.
3. La Roux – ‘Let Me Down Gently’
It would have felt like one big whopping lie if I didn’t add La Roux as one of the main influences for this EP. Her approach to song-writing has been a real inspiration since I stopped writing songs with a guitar and moved towards a more electronic sound. I found it quite difficult to establish the kind of music I wanted to create at first and always felt like I was restricting myself, and the fact I wasn’t great at guitar probably didn’t help. Once I started using synths and making beats it pushed me in the direction that I’d been trying to go in, and it finally started to sound like my lyrics were matching the instrumentation. I find her style effortless with how she manages to be completely raw and direct in her lyrics, at times verging on cynical, alongside these really catchy synth melodies that are so simple but so effective. She manages to paint a world that is colourfully futuristic whilst staying honest with herself and the people around her, and that’s is the kind of world I want to live in.
4. Orange Juice – ‘Rip It Up’
I think anyone who makes music finds it incredibly frustrating sometimes because it’s a challenge to articulate yourself when there’s so many different ways you could do it. I didn’t really have much of an idea where I was going to go stylistically with this EP at first, but I was listening to a lot of folk and 80’s music at the time I was writing it and I guess that guided me through. As frustrating as it is, I also love the trial and error process of song-writing, and I took on the whole ripping-it-up-and-starting-again concept quite seriously because that’s what I did half-way through, and I’m glad I did because once I started re-writing it that’s when my thoughts started to come together and I had more of an idea of what I needed to say and how I wanted to say it.
5. Sudan Archives – ‘Come Meh Way’
Sometime last year I was listening to Sudan Archives on a walk round the moors in Yorkshire and I thought “God, I would kill to be able to play like that.” I ran home and dusted off my Mum’s old violin that was hibernating in the attic and started to teach myself. I’ve never heard anyone play the violin like Brittney Denise Parks, something about it is so haunting and atmospheric and adds a dimension to her songs that makes them so unique, and every time I listen to her I feel so moved. I love how her lyrics and violin seem to speak to each-other, and in this track her lyrics are rounded and gentle compared to this piercing violin arrangement – together it just produces such a mesmerizing sound and it definitely influenced elements of Moodboard.
Thanks to Phé for sharing her favourites with us!
Listen to Phé’s Moodboard EP below.
Photo Credit: Anna Rakhvalova