Interview – Phonetix

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Browsing through myspace, Slick n Fresh stumbled by chance across the pages of up & coming UKG producer Phonetix. Standing out amongst a sea of mediocre bedroom music, the sound on the Phonetix & Soul’d Out myspace pages was crying out for attention. Little is known about the young producer; but industry insiders are already touting him as the ‘next big thing’ in UKG. Slick n Fresh sent JTL to find out more about him, his music & his thoughts on the scene…

What does Phonetix stand for, is it just a name is there meaning behind it?

I’ve always been fascinated by how words sound. Speaking phonetically has somehow become a long-running family joke, so the name kinda stems from that. Also the Chinese definition of the word ‘phonetic’ is pretty damn cool!

Your tracks breathe out a massive musical element that some people often don’t use in UKG (especially Bassline). Do you have a musical background or is it all natural talent?

I do have a musical background, & it’s something I like to draw upon as much as possible. My favourite producers have always been those that fuse musical knowledge with great engineering techniques, so I aim to do the same. That said, it’s important not to overdo it – UKG is after all, music made for the dancefloor so you can’t go overcomplicating things! It’s all about keeping things simple whilst creating something with enough depth to keep people interested.

Who are your influences in and outside of the scene?

It’s important to keep an open-mind & listen to as wide a selection of material as possible to stay inspired, so I listen to everything. A few people I find particularly inspiring are: High Contrast, Patife & Robin Thicke. I also find that any projects the Neptunes, Dr Dre or Damon Albarn are involved with turn out to be golden, so an honourable mention goes to those guys. I spend quite a bit of my spare time listening to music from Cuba as well. The music scene over there is incredible – spend an hour listening to people like Compay Segundo & Beny Moré & it’ll completely change your perspective on music.

With regards to influential UKG acts, it’s all about people like Wideboys, MJ Cole, Delinquent, Sunship & Control-S. I think I’m one of those people who’s more geared towards the ‘song’ side of UKG, which might explain that selection.

Speaking of songs, most people probably don’t realise that you work as one half of upcoming UK R&B / Soul act, Soul’d Out. Which do you prefer to make, R&B / Soul or UKG?

It’s hard to compare the two. The Soul’d Out stuff essentially involves myself & Harsh (the voice of Soul’d Out) getting in the studio & having a laugh, chatting about random shit until inspiration strikes & we come up with a song. Usually I’ll have a backing pretty much done before we even set foot in the studio, so that it’s just a case of laying down some lyrics & melodies. That can be amusing, I enjoy doing that; although tidying up audio & mixing everything down can get laborious when we’ve got carried away & done 50+ vocal takes! (laughs)

Producing a UKG track is a completely different process. Most of the UKG I make is remixes of songs we’ve already recorded as Soul’d Out; so I don’t have to worry about mixing down the vocal. It’s more of a case of “rejigging” what’s already there, which can be fun… but can also be arduous & dull when the inspiration doesn’t strike! Remixing other people’s tracks is usually good fun though – the ‘Delayed Reaction’ remix is a prime example of that. When Vex gave me that vocal to work with, I had no predispositions of how the backing ‘should’ sound because I hadn’t heard it before, so I just sat down & did my thing.

Speaking of which, how has the response been on that one so far?

A little disappointing actually. I sent the track to a handful of DJs, but most have turned a blind eye to it for some reason. It’s not really up to my usual production standard, I intentionally left it sounding a little bit raw because that was the vibe I was after. But I thought it was slick enough to get more plays than it has. A few of the Northern DJs have been supporting it, but as I said – I’ve been a bit gutted all in all! I think perhaps people are a little wary of me because I’m not a familiar name? Well they better get used to the name Phonetix because I plan on bombarding them all over the next year! (laughs)

I presume that means there are releases lined up? (That’s the word on the grapevine anyway)

I’ve been working on some mixes of some Robbie Glover tracks, looking for some sort of EP release on one of Charma’s labels. I met Robbie a while back through MySpace & instantly liked his unique style – he brings this positive energy to the table, & his vocals are accessible – which is important. We’re both quite enthusiastic about the remixes I’ve done for him so far, so it should be interesting seeing what kind of reaction they get in clubland. You can hear them now over at my MySpace.

As for Soul’d Out, we’re in discussion at the minute trying to organise a single release / remix EP of some sort. I’ve always been keen on the versatility that UKG allows, so I’m looking to exploit that & try to come up with a varied UKG release that covers a few sub genres & appeals to a wide audience. Essentially that’s what Soul’d Out is all about: No stereotyping or pigeonholing – just deep music with meaning. Down the line we’ll obviously be looking to get some sort of album deal, & although that wouldn’t be UKG, I will certainly do what I can to get UKG mixes done!

On top of that, there’ll also be more mixes for Vex Music – the guy that produced the original version of ‘Delayed Reaction’ – as well as a collab between the two of us. He’s one to watch for the future. His tracks are superbly produced & the song-writing is incredible. It’s gonna be a pleasure to lay down some tracks with him.

What kind of kit do you have in the studio? Are you a hardware man or software?

I have some hardware synths & samplers, a few hardware compressors & a hell of a lot of software! I kinda bounce between the lot depending on the sound I’m after & how lazy I’m feeling.

What are your opinions on the scene as it stands, with Bassline coming to the forefront commercially; do you see it as a good thing or a bad thing?

I think it’s about time UKG got some attention outside of the small circles. Having a little bit of money floating about the scene will be a good incentive for some of the top producers to stick around (or return!) as well. I’m feeling the Bassline thing, though I am concerned about the direction it’s heading in at the moment. I hope I’m wrong, but at the moment I’m seeing similarities with what happened with UKG in 2001/02. It’s all well & good pushing the Grimey sound, but there has to be a balance. For every 12 year old girl that went out & bought the Heartbroken single, there’s probably a slightly more ‘mature’ listener going “what the hell is this?!” If Bassline is going to continue to grow & stay in the public eye there needs to be tracks coming through which are a little less grimey & have something for those people who aren’t feeling that darker sound. Bassline is club music, but it can still be done with a little bit of class. The Delinquent mix of J2’s ‘Bed’ is a prime example of that. That’s the type of vibe I’m aiming for with my Bassline – club music with a bit of musicality & some longevity to it.

It’ll be interesting to see how everything pans out in the next half-year anyway. As much as I’m on this Bassline thing, I’d like to see the “more traditional” UKG sound getting some love as well, so hopefully people will take note of the Sunship mix of ‘My Destiny’ when that single drops. There’s plenty of people making quality music, so hopefully what’s happening at the mo’ with Bassline will open some doors for others!

Do you think the success of ‘Heartbroken’ has paved a big enough gap for more tracks to creep in then?

Sure seems that way mate. In recent months all manner of official Bassline mixes have been popping up, from the remixes of ‘Bed’, to the DJ Q mix of ‘Flex’ & the Wideboys’ mixes of just about every artist in the charts (laughs). I think that says something, whatever these people are doing seems to be working!

Where do you see yourself in the next year?

Well at the minute I’m just trying to sort out some new management for Soul’d Out. We’ve got practically a whole album done; so it’s just a case of pushing it & trying to get some sort of deal. We’ll be out & about with our band doing performances all over the place, so keep your eyes on the MySpace page for news on that! Our aim for the new year is to get some interest from A&R peeps & see if we can convince someone to put some time & money into us. We know between us that we have what it takes, so it’s just a case of convincing someone else of that!

With regards to UKG & Phonetix projects, I plan on being a thorn in the side of DJs everywhere for the next year or so! I’ve had too much stuff sitting on my hard-drive for too long now, & I’m finally feeling like it’s my time to get some stuff out there. So I’m planning on making sure the name ‘Phonetix’ is EVERYWHERE!

Who are your favourite producers in UKG at the moment?

(laughs) I knew you’d ask that so I’ve made a nice neat list here to reel off: – in no particular order… Wideboys, MJ Cole, Delinquent, Sunship, Duncan Powell, Control-S, Jon Buccieri / DJ Influence, Dezz Jones, TNG, Ben Joel, TRC… I’m also tipping Chris Beale for big things in the next year or two, he’s coming through with some original & innovative ideas at the minute.

DJs & labels looking to contact Phonetix or Soul’d Out can do so via the MySpace pages:

Visit the Soul’d out MySpace.
Visit the Phonetix MySpace.

Or email

Slick n Fresh would like to thank Phonetix for this interview.
Interview by Shiv

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