With his Balance 004 mix release in stores now, Phil recently took the time to discuss with RA the happenings and future plans of his promising musical career over a relaxed phone conversation.
To those who haven’t experienced a Phil K set, how would you describe your sound?
It could be anything I suppose. I like playing different styles of music really and try to capture every kind of emotion, whether it is happy, sad, angry, quirky, music that kind of makes you feel something really. I think for the most part a lot of DJ’s that you hear make you want to feel happy, but that’s not a natural thing because you’re not always happy. I think I try to play music that captures every single kind of emotion that humans can feel and sometimes that’s captured by playing aggressive records and sometimes its moody records. I just try and not let myself play one style of music I suppose and it also depends on when you hear me. Sometimes I’ll be warming up and sometimes I’ll be playing in the end of the night, it’s always different and I treat each different gig differently and I try and play music accordingly.
Your Balance mix is set to hit stores soon – did you want to achieve anything in particular out of this?
I was fortunate enough to get sent around 200 different packages from producers all over the world and received different records and CD-R’s but I didn’t want to fall in to the trap of putting on tracks that no one has ever heard before. Most of DJ’s these days when the release a CD try to put the newest records on one mix so people can get up and say ‘wow, I’ve never heard this before’, so I was falling into the trap of putting music onto the cd just because it was new so I had to stop myself at one point. I wanted to make a cd that people will listen to for a few years not a period of 6 months and then after that people had heard all of the tunes anyway. Basically my criteria were that I just wanted to make a cd, which had old and new records on it and I know that work and also play some quality Australian releases. I wanted to put some Australian releases because we have some of the best producers in the world at the moment, some of them not known, so I had an opportunity to expose some of these people.
The first disc of the CD really encompasses the energy of your live sets. Did you prefer the 2 disc format, as opposed to previous 1 cd releases, to let you show different sides of your tastes?
It’s a double cd so I had an opportunity to do a lot more with it. With the Sound Not Scene cd 2 years ago I was in a different state of mind. There were not that many breakbeat cd’s on the market so I wanted to put something on the market that was a little bit different at the time, and at that time the whole breakbeat thing wasn’t getting as much attention as it was now so I felt I’ll release a breakbeat cd for those that were into that kind of music. Today though, I’m not just a breakbeat producer or DJ. I have a lot and play a lot of House music just as much as I play breakbeat music and this cd has given me the opportunity to show both sides of where I’m at and what kind of music I like.
The second CD in particular has a Lee Burridge and Craig Richards tech-house vibe to it. Are their any influences in particular with this cd?
I do like what Craig does, I can’t say I go around the internet searching for live sets from these guys every week. I’ve heard Craig and Lee DJ maybe once or twice and I’ve listened to their tyrant cd’s once or twice as well. I do get enjoyment out of what other guys do but I wouldn’t say I want to be like them. This is the kind of music I like and this is the kind of music I’m playing on the dancefloor and it’s getting a good reaction and it’s why it’s on the cd I’m putting out. But if it’s compared to guys like that well that’s great because they are great DJ’s.
Your live performances really involve a lot of edits and use of the features of CD mixers. How important is this extra effort for you in a live situation?
I don’t see it as an extra effort. I see it as a part of DJ’ing now. I don’t try and pay attention to how other people work I just work with the technology I have at my disposal and I use my thoughts and abilities through these machines. I don’t feel it’s an extra effort, it’s basically how I DJ now. If I didn’t DJ like this I’d probably be bored of mixing 2 records together as it does get a little monotonous after a while. I feel it’s important to do things a little bit different and try and excite yourself while you are DJ’ing and present yourself a little differently. The bottom line is the technology is there and I want to use it and now it feels natural rather then something needing extra effort.
The Balance mix contains a lot of high quality Australian music – where do you think the state of Australian music is at the moment?
I think some of the most exciting music is coming from Australia at the moment. The likes of Pocket, Luke Chable, Nubreed and Colin whose vocal tune features on the breaks cd of Balance are now starting to come into their own after focusing on their music for the last few years and have started to gain their own identity locally and overseas as well. If you look at the output of electronic music in Australia compared to countries like the US and England, we probably have the highest quality music per capita!! We are making high quality music here and it can only get better really.
Do you find it hard balancing your DJ’ing and Producing commitments?
It’s a different state of mind. As a DJ only I used to go to the record store every day and look for new records. Now I have to find a balance. It’s all different though. 5 years ago you couldn’t go online and look for music or couldn’t email 2 dozen producers around the world and get tunes sent to your doorstep, it wasn’t an option. I used to visit record stores only but now it’s different how CD-R’s circulate around the world. I send my productions to other producers around the world and they do the same for me by sending their productions.
It’s not too hard. DJ’ing is a weekend thing while production is a fulltime job. I sit their all week and commit myself to writing music and the weekend comes and I do my DJ thing. I don’t think it really bothers me, they go hand in hand, if I wasn’t DJ’ing I wouldn’t want to be making music and if I wasn’t making music I wouldn’t want to be DJ’ing.
Can you tell us anything about any upcoming productions?
To be honest I have been working hard for the last 2 years and in my computer I have 2 dozen unfinished grooves and pieces of music that I go to for a couple of days and turn off again and go to something else. Luke and I have a single coming out on Global Underground in a couple of weeks (Roots) and we have our second single finished that will hopefully come out early in the New Year. There are also project that Nubreed and I are working on that we started when we were in Sydney last which is sounding good and needs some finishing touches.
I don’t really commit myself to finishing a tune in a certain week; I’ll work on something that suits my mood on a certain day. It’s all work in progress, as I’m not in the thought of finishing works in the space of a week. I listen to a lot of records that sound bland, mostly due to the fact that it was probably done in the space of a few days or a week. When I do a piece of music I want it to be a piece of music that is going to last and stand up and is full of musical content. But I’m a DJ and I’m someone who is learning to produce my own music so for me to come up with an outstanding work of music is probably going to take me a lot longer than someone who has been doing music all their life.
I’m quite happy to sit back and work at my own pace. If over 2 years I only release 10 records, if those 10 records are exactly how I want them to be and have got a high musical content, then people are going to remember those pieces of music then if I put out 30 pieces of music. I’m not in any great rush to put out loads and loads of records, there is no rush for me!
It’s better it comes naturally!
Yeah definitely. I don’t mind spending 3 months on a piece of music on and off. It gives me time to think about it. When you are working on so many works of music I’ll be in my bed, driving in my car and I’ll have an idea. Now that idea might not necessarily fit with every track I’m working on so I might put an idea into one track, and if it works – great! I’m not going to push myself and if it happens it happens. I want it to happen naturally and grow with it rather than just push it out of me.
Considering your popularity has increased in the UK and the US especially, do you plan to establish yourself and even base yourself overseas or do you still call Australia home?
No! I want to base myself in Melbourne. It just got voted the most livable city in the world, why the fuck would I want to go live in London! I’ve got myself sorted here I don’t want to go anywhere just to make it. I would like to travel every year but I have my friends here, I have the lifestyle I want to have and I’m quite happy to live here. Maybe one day when people want me to fly across the world to play then that’s great. If someone wants to fly me to Canada and play there then I’m quite happy to fly to Canada! If someone wants me in London then I’ll fly to London!
It’s not my ambition in life to live somewhere in particular. I just keep doing my work and if someone wants me in another country then I’ll play in another country, but for the time being I’m happy to live on this side of the world.
It’s perhaps a sign of the times that maybe 5 or 10 years ago you had to go to the UK.
That’s right. If the output and quality of your work speaks for itself then it doesn’t really matter where you live anymore. If I lived in London I might have to put out a record a week just to pay the bills and the quality of my music would suffer whereas in Australia I can take my time and the quality would not suffer. This again comes back to the lack of quality in the music around these days as people haven’t spent the time working on it and the little intricacies that I like to hear in the music aren’t there. This probably is due to the fact that many producers are forced to release stuff too often, a position I don’t want to put myself in.
Do you have any plans for a US and UK tour?
I’m looking at going to America probably in February and staying through to the Miami music conference, then come home for 6 or so weeks and then head to the UK. I’m doing a mix cd for an English label next year and they want me to tour to help promote the cd in the UK and the US so they will be organizing a lot of stuff for me. Plus I have a lot of contacts I’ll be knocking on the door once the wheels of this tour are in motion. I also plan to do some gigs in Europe next year as I have people from all over the place such as Turkey and Switzerland asking me to play records so ill think I’ll do that all next year and hopefully I’ll have a laptop then.
One thing that prevented me this year was while I was traveling I was away from my computer and I couldn’t put down my ideas and while my DJ’ing career was moving forward I was spending too much time away from home and my computer and I don’t like that so if I had my computer with me I can keep up with my production side.
What artist or DJ’s have influenced you over the years?
Heaps of them! Anyone from Stacey Pullen, Derrick May, Adam Freeland, FreQ Nasty, Anthony Pappa, DJ Craze as well as heaps of local guys like Gab Olivier and Ozzie LA who I see week in week out. Anyone that makes you think, ‘well I haven’t heard this music before and haven’t heard someone DJ like this before’. Even the first time I saw Carl Cox and the way he was using turntables, even though musically I wasn’t fully into what he was playing but the way he was playing his records was amazing. All of these people at some stage I have thought about what they have done and what I have done and they have influenced me in my whole approach to DJ’ing.
What albums or mix cd’s have been of great influence?
Anything from Northern Exposure mix cd’s to one of the first drum and bass Grooverider mixes or Tipper’s first album. Even Ozzie LA’s first mix tape in 1989 has influenced what I do. Even though it has records like ‘Ride on Time’ on it that might be a bit invalid in 2002 but in 1989 it had a big influence on me. It may not necessarily have to be a big DJ, but rather some moment in time that a piece of music has influenced you.