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Ditto Blog

Interview With Phia

After 5 years of living in Berlin, Melbourne Artist Phia has returned to home soil, bringing with her a new single ‘Open/Closed’ and an album ‘The Ocean of Everything’ on its way. We caught up with Phia and had a chat about her upcoming European tour, filming a music video in the outback and got some insight in to her album.

Tell us about your album 'The Ocean of Everything' - is there a theme throughout the album? What inspired you to write it and what kind of ideas does it cover?


All the songs on the album were written either just before I left Melbourne for Berlin, or in the year or so after moving. While it wasn’t a conscious thing, I can definitely look over them now and see that they reflect my desire to discover more about myself and the world around me, which prompted me to move over the other side of the world! The title itself comes from of the songs, Begin Again, a song about how your relationship with your family changes as you age. The full line is “…and in the ocean of everything, who knows where it ends or begins?”. When I was searching for the right name to call the album, I looked through my lyrics and that line really jumped out at me, it reflects really well the universe within us and around us that I was grappling with as I wrote the songs.


You have recently relocated from Berlin where you were living for 5 years, back to Melbourne. Musically and scene-wise what are the differences and similarities between the two?


Berlin is obviously famous for its electronic music scene but they’ve also got a smaller, but equally great, D.I.Y folk scene, which I discovered when I was there. There’s hundreds of small bars all around Berlin with small P.A systems - or just a mic and an amp in the corner! - which means there’s so many performance opportunities if you’re just getting started. All these bars have their own audience from people who living in the surrounding “kiez” (neighbourhood), so you don’t need to worry about bringing an audience, and you build a fan base with every gig you do.

Melbourne has a lot more mid-sized venues though, like the Toff, Grace Darling, Evelyn etc, which is equally important in a musician’s development!


If you could collaborate with one other songwriter alive or dead who would it be?


Merril Garbus from Tune-Yards and Kimbra would be my dream - both are such creative, adventurous songwriters and they seem like they’re so open and accessible, I think it would be a lot of fun, and super fruitful.


You are touring around Europe in August - what has been your favourite tour memory so far and what are you most looking forward to on the tour?


Back in 2011, in my first year of living in Europe, I travelled to Iceland to play in the Reyjkyavik Melodica Festival, a grassroots artist-run folk festival. It was a bit of a gamble, I had no idea what to expect. As well as the festival, they organised a tour for a few of us to drive up to the Western Fjords, and we played a house concert with a view of the beach, a witchcraft museum in a fisherman’s village and also at a haunted hotel in a now-abandoned town. It was once a thriving fishing village, and the story goes that the people of the town upset the ‘hidden people’ (Iceland’s mythical elvish population) and they cast a spell to cause the herring to dry up, ruining the town. They still have one of the enormous old concrete tanks which you can go into and the reverb in there is amazing (Sigur Ros put on a gig in there!). That whole trip was just incredible.


For this tour I’m not expecting to meet any hidden people (though you never know…), I’m really looking forward to being back in Berlin and our first gig is a pre-release show at a bar called Klunkerkranich, which is a converted carpark on the rooftop of a shopping centre in Neukölln. It’s really special.


Tell us about the Open/Closed music video - looks like an incredible location. 


I feel so lucky we pulled that video off, it was an incredible location! I had a very short deadline for making the video (which may or may not be because of my forgetfulness) and the week the video had to be shot was the same week we were travelling up to Alice Springs for a gig. So I asked around and was put onto Kyle Wilson (who also shot this incredible video for Resin Moon). We basically had 3 hours on the morning of the gig, and he was such a wizard with the camera. The outside shots are in a dried up riverbed just outside Alice and the night time shots are at the festival we played in the evening. The blue room shots are in the bathroom at the festival, we call them the “toilet shots”. Brilliant.

Check out Phia's single Open/Closed on iTunes and Spotify.