' We try and make music that portrays certain periods in our lives, whether these involve new experiences, relationships, or transitions. '
ADSR welcomes the second pack in our new Artist Series Label from Phiilo, an incredible future bass duo from Denver CO!
How did you start producing music?
I played in various rock and jazz bands for years as a guitar player before moving over to production. When Jonny and I first met, we played in a funk band before starting up Phiilo.
For me, I basically got sick of dealing with dynamics in a band; differing opinions or abilities that restricted me from doing what I wanted to do creatively, recording challenges, and lugging a ton of gear around. Switching over to production allowed me to work independently and really start making music that was meaningful to me.
How would you classify your style or genre?
Doing my best to avoid the cliche of saying "genreless", I think we are some combination of future bass, soul and RnB, but this is always evolving. We’ve used the term "future soul" to describe our sound.
What are your biggest sources of inspiration?
I can get inspiration from a song from any other genre, and sometimes it surprises me. I might be listening to an old jazz record, or some strange world music and get an idea that develops into a new Phiilo song.
Jonny and I also try and make music that portrays certain periods in our lives, whether these involve new experiences, relationships, or transitions. That way, we can have a song to listen back to that represents a certain time in our lives.
What is the hardest part about being a solo artist? What are some aspects of being an artist easy, and which parts do you find hard?
The hardest part of being an artist for me as been marketing and networking. I really struggle with constantly having to post on social media and "talk ourselves up" and the idea of constantly posting "cool" pictures of ourselves or posts about our achievements doesn’t really come natural to me.
Unfortunately, in order to be successful as a solo artist these days, you really have to be on top of these things, so it’s just part of the job. It has also been challenging to weed through issues related to working with record labels, but this is just something you learn as you go.
What is one production tip you use in most projects, that defines not just your sound, but your production style within your DAW?
Lately, I’ve been focusing more on stereo imaging. Finding a space for each sound in the stereo field is maybe just as important as finding space in the frequency spectrum. I try and make sure that the foundation of a song is grounded in more mono sounds (kick, snare, bass, and even warmer pad sounds), and work outwards from there.
Then, I use plugins like Ableton’s filter delay, Soundtoys’ Micro Shift, and one of my favorites — Oculus’ Spatializer, to place sounds (e.g., synths, bells, percussion, vocals, guitars) in unique places in the stereo field so they don’t clash with one another.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the Electronic music industry and how do you fit into it?
I’m pretty enthusiastic about the way the electronic music industry has evolved over the past several years. There is just so much good electronic music out there, even though you may need to dig a little to find it at times. I’m constantly amazed at what I find on SoundCloud and Spotify.
As for Phiilo, I think our unique contribution involves really pushing boundaries with what can be done with the combination of electronic elements with organic instrumentation like the guitar and a vocalist. I think the fact that Jonny sings on every one of our songs, and I play guitar on almost all of them keeps our sound distinct and grounded in our roots.
Do you have a background in other instruments and how does that play into your style of production and sound?
Definitely. My entire background is playing guitar. I’ve only been producing for about two and a half years, and before that I played guitar for more than 10 years in various bands. Because musically, I am so comfortable and connected to the guitar, almost every one of our productions begins with the guitar.
This might be a melody or just a chord progression that I play on the guitar. I know nothing about the piano. In fact, when I’m adding midi notes in Ableton, I usually need to have a guitar in my lap where I can pluck a note and use my ear to find the note on the piano scroll and click it in!
What is it like being a young artist trying to break into the scene and what can people expect? Is it daunting, exciting, scary, intense, and what pushes you past the negative feelings artists can sometimes feel and what gets you to finish tracks and keep pushing boundaries?
One of the hardest things about trying to break into the scene as an artist is the pressure. The further you progress and the more successful you get, the more pressure there seems to be. Pressure to finish tracks quickly, have each song sound better than the last, play great shows, and promote yourself.
The problem is that this kind of pressure works directly against creativity.
I try to set days aside where I can just mess around in the studio and not worry if I get anything productive done. Trying to get yourself into the mindset you had when you first started playing music can be really helpful. Taking breaks from producing can be really helpful too, if needed.