September 5, 2018: Hamburg-based Neosignal co-founder Phace will release his third solo artist album – Between.
Released three and a half years after his last album Shape The Random, Between packs a powerful punch as the 11 tracks weave, bob and jab at a tight 36 minutes. Perfect for both our dancing feet and dwindling attention spans, there’s not a dull moment as Phace takes us through the trippier, unpredictable side of his repertoire, ranging from sleazy glitches and strange otherworldly homages to techno. Intense, frank and full of surprises, it’s Phace at his most forthright and creative.
With tracks expected to surface throughout the summer building up to the release, and a preview already available via Spotify pre-save, we called him up for a little more information. This is what we know about Phace – Between right now…
It only feels like yesterday that we were discussing Shape The Random. Obviously it wasn’t yesterday, it was three years ago, but please tell me about any big changes in your life since between Shape The Random and Between…
Time flies! The biggest change since my last album probably is that I feel wiser and more experienced. Musically I’d say I am more controlled than three years ago, even though I still like it somewhat wild and crazy. My mindset and view on music or art in general changed and, to me change is vital. I feel even freer in what I do.
Also, music production technology moved forward so much within the last three years. I really like how it gives you many new possibilities to be creative with and to bring sound to the next level. My motivation and energy to write music still feels like it did when I was writing my first album Psycho. Only nowadays, to me, less is more, and I like my music to transfer even more emotions and be more diverse. That is what I wanted Between to reflect. I’d rather wanted to focus on a cool idea and get it all right and entertaining. There isn’t a lot of thrill in solely writing DJ tools which I’d later feel like skipping through when listening to just because I can easily predict their formula. Of course some tracks deserve to be rolled out in a more repetitive style; I personally just tried not to repeat myself on Between.
How about big changes in D&B that have happened between those albums that might have influenced this new body of work?
One big difference of course is advanced technological control in music production you have these days. You can do so much cool things even more precise and detailed. The sound of the whole genre updated since 2015, no matter which style. Technological progress was, and still is, quite inspiring to me. It’s definitely not the only thing though, to me actually more important is the content, story and flow of a song. It has to transfer a feeling, a message, or simply just a mood you can get lost in or get surprised by.
In regards to the D&B scene and movement in general, it’s a little hard to say from my position. I do live a sort of D&B isolated life out here in Hamburg and listen to different styles of music in my spare time. My network in the city mainly consists of people who aren’t connected to D&B. Art Directors, photographers, people who work in postproduction, fashion or film. Creative people who also are itching to do cool things though. So there is a shared commonality. I do like the fact not knowing so much about what is going on in a scene though, so I can still be surprised and also don’t let my decisions and creations be influenced too much. In the music business things come and go with the generations anyways. Everything moves in cycles. I am not really that type of guy judging if things got worse or better. To me it really is more about what you make of your time. There are so many people in the online word having an opinion on everything these days. Social media pretty much is just a loudspeaker on peak level. Quite tiring if you ask me.
The album isn’t tiring…. Powerful and punchy at 36 mins. Wham bam thank you mam business; Between is the sound of Phace cutting straight to the chase right? Concentrated pure uncut Phace.
I am glad you noticed that. I really tried to get to the heart of it. Even though the album is much shorter in playing time in comparison to my last LP, it took me more time to get it done. Sometimes I felt I was putting too much weight on decisions during production or writing. When I look back at it now, I am very happy and thankful I went through this experience. I learned a LOT.
What else did you learn about yourself during the process?
It’s worth to walk the extra mile, unless you know the best shortcut. And it’s worth not to rush things, unless you are 120% sure.
Speaking of extra miles, you wrote a lot of the album in New York, right? What took you there for some of the writing?
A very good friend of mine lives in Brooklyn. I have been touring North America quite a fair bit within the past three years. So New York became my US home base while touring. I spent quite some time out there and was lucky enough to be able to also use my friend’s studio. He doesn’t work on D&B, but on techno. I didn’t know his gear so well, which mainly is hardware synths and a modular system. So it wasn’t only refreshing to work outside my home studio comfort zone, but also refreshing to work with gear I hadn’t used before. New York is a great city, even though it can be really tiring too. It can suck you in and spit you out. I just really like the vibe of the city in general and the possibilities it offers. Musically it’s definitely more of a techno city, which I don’t mind at all as I grew up with techno. The city and hanging with my homie out there actually did revive my relation to that genre in a positive way.
It’s important to be able to adapt to your environments isn’t it?
I think it’s important to get more comfortable with being able to write music anywhere I am; with a restricted setup, just a small laptop with limited processing power and possibilities and just using a pair of headphones. That is how I started pretty much every track on the record. It was a very refreshing experience as you end up with very different results every time. I felt tired to always sit in the same studio, with the same vibe and the same setup. You tend to end up writing samey kinda music. When you are travelling or changing places many different emotions, ideas and situations pop up. This had such a big effect on my creations. I really like that. Also, restricting yourself in possibilities does make you focus more on getting things right rather than continuing to fill the cup more and more just because you can.
Give us a high moment when the album excelled your expectations?
That must have been around one month before I sent it out to physical production. As I also did the mastering of the album myself, I was in full control of the full thing till the very end. And even the latest and most minimal changes made such a huge difference to me. It all came together then, became one coherent thing to me.
Give me a low moment when you considered scrapping it all and quitting the game to become a monk or something.
That was end of last year. Initially I had planned to release the record around May and did set myself a deadline to be done with everything end of 2017. I was working so hard on it and lost all my objectivity. It was frustrating. It seemed I couldn’t get it finished the way I wanted it to, just because I was too attached to things. I then decided to take a big break at the start of 2018, went surfing for three weeks and reset my mind. I decided to postpone the record till September. After that break all things came together naturally. When you distance yourself from your creation and give yourself time to reflect it is easier to kill your darlings and reach the next stage. This doesn’t always work I guess, but for this album it was the absolute right thing to do.
Finally give us a story about a strange encounter or situation that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the album creation?
Not a strange one at all, but a real dope one: the Banana Split at Van Leeuwen’s in Brooklyn does cure any mood swings in a minute.