(Photo credit: Apps Photography)
It began at London midweek D&B HQ Soul In Motion two years ago: Glenn Artificial Intelligence introduced Philth and Phil Tangent to each other. Not because they’re both called Phil (although that is a nice coincidence) but because he knew they shared the same ethos and approach to drum & bass and might be an interesting collaboration scenario. Or at least become mates.
As with many things he’s done professionally – as one half of AI, as the co-founder of Integral Records and puppetmaster behind the Dawn Wall-related mysteries – Glenn was bang on the money. The first tune they wrote together was this beautiful piano-laced number…
It’s one of four genuinely touching slices of authentic drum & bass from the pair on their recent Heavy Hearts EP… And it marks the start of what could potentially be a steady slew of Phil:osophical collabs. They’ve got 11 more originals and one remix completely finished and are continuing to work on more.
“Which is mad because we’ve never actually been in the studio together,” laughs Tangent (the bald one in case you don’t know your Phils)
“I used to not enjoy doing it this way, to be honest,” says Philth. “It’s exciting to be making it in the room together can catching a vibe together. But in this case it works.”
It really does work. From the scorching bass and soaring vocals of Wednesday’s Child to the dreamy rolling soul of Heavy Heart, their project – which began as Philth Tangent before they arrived at the much cooler Phil:osophy moniker – is a celebration of both artists’ long-established sense of breadth, shade and restraint while existing in its own musical world. With plenty more in the pipeline we thought we’d get them to interview each other. We weren’t disappointed with the outcome…
Philth: Pizza or kebab?
Tangent: That’s very tough. In Sardinia, when I’m there for Sun And Bass, it’s all about the Americano with chips on it. You can’t beat that.
UKF: Chips on a pizza. WTF?
Tangent: It’s the future mate. Shove them on your pizza and get with the program. Yeah actually pizza all the way.
Philth: Okay, red or white wine?
Tangent: Red. It goes with pizza.
Philth: And steak!
Tangent: Who’s your favourite ginger?
Philth: My favourite ginger is Ant TC1. Quite a lot of people don’t know this about him because he’s gone full bald. But once upon a time he was a ginger and I wonder if that’s why he likes me releasing on Dispatch. He’s reliving former glories.
Tangent: Gingers stick together!
Philth: We have to give an honourable mention to Mike Random Movement, too. He’s a quality ginger.
Tangent: Let’s do a serious question now. Who’s your biggest drum & bass inspiration?
Philth: Biggest inspiration of all time? Ed Rush & Optical. It has to be. The first records I ever bought were Bad Company’s The Nine and Ed Rush & Optical Medicine remix, which I still play to this day. That set the standard and benchmark for what I was looking for. I was that annoying kid going into record shops every week asking for more Virus stuff. So yeah, A LOT of people have influenced me and inspire me but if we go back to the start it’s Ed Rush & Optical. What about you?
Philth: I can hear that in your style actually
Tangent: Yeah, 96 era Good Looking full stop. I was amazed by everything they put out. But also Calibre, too. I know it’s boring to say because he’s influenced us all but it has to be said.
Philth: Can we say Artificial Intelligence too? They put me onto a different vibe back in the early days too. I first heard them when a mate brought in a really early V release and I was like ‘okay this soulful stuff is alright!’ Before that I was 100% techy, all Bad Company and Virus stuff, but AI opened my eyes a bit. Hooked On, I think it was. That made me realise there was more to drum & bass that resonated with me. I remember thinking ‘okay, liquid can have balls too!’
Tangent: You’ve got to have the light with the dark haven’t you!
Philth: I got a question. Where does the Tangent come from?
Tangent: A dictionary. I needed a better name than I had, which was DJ Phil Good. And I felt that limited me to what I wanted to make musically. Like if you call yourself DJ Drumstep then you’re going to be known as a drumstep guy, right?
Philth: I had the same with Philth. People expect me to play tear-out with a name like that because I did used to play strictly heavy stuff back in the day. I kinda cursed myself. So why Tangent though?
Tangent: I liked it. It’s the meeting between two points which, for me as a DJ, is the crossfader. How did you end up being called Philth?
Philth: That goes back to me and my best mate DJ Immerse from Rude FM in college. When the school asked us what instruments they should get we were just like ‘decks’ all the time. So they got decks and that’s all we did in college. Mix tunes. I was bringing in all this really dark filthy shit and some bright spark suggested the name.
Tangent: Nice. I like how it goes right back to your roots.
Philth: Yeah, and the further it goes on the more I’ve been happy that it has my own name in there too. Like yours. We’ve kept something personal in both our names.
Tangent: So here’s a personal question actually…. You’ve been quite vocal about suffering tinnitus. How do you deal with it in your day to day life?
Philth: I’ve learnt to live with it. I’m actually happier this happened 10 years ago before my career really took off. If this happened two years ago, for example, then I’d be devastated. I sleep with noises playing – in the summer I have a fan on, in the winter I have an app that plays rainfall or white noise. I’ve had to accept it, it won’t change.
Tangent: Does it get worse?
Philth: Luckily it hasn’t deteriorated because I now wear earplugs and have done for 10 years. But I do feel it a lot more when I’m tired or stressed.
Tangent: Or hungry?
Philth: Or hungry! So I got a question… What inspired you to make the tune Restitution?
Tangent: A break up, I think. I got into the saying about the coin of time. If it’s well spent you’re happy, if not you’re a miserable bastard. I’d gone through a break up and that was me coming through the other side of it.
Philth: Music is definitely therapy isn’t it! If you’re happy, sad, stressed or whatever, that is felt in the music. My mate Wreckless describes his back catalogue as a diary of his life. So I guess when you go back over Restitution you can hear how you got through that time?
Tangent: I guess I do. I feel for you mate, you got 100 tunes out. Your diary is well long. What’s going on in your head?
Philth: You don’t want to know! So here are two questions in one. Who influences you outside of drum & bass and who would you want to collaborate with outside of drum & bass?
Tangent: Ooof, that’s a good one. I listen to a lot of Brazilian music and old soul and Motown, ambient music, house music. I don’t listen to as much D&B as I did before. Life is too short, I want to listen to every tune that’s ever existed. I don’t want to miss any.
Philth: I’m the same! I think a lot of us are because drum & bass is my job. When I’m not in work mode I don’t listen to it.
UKF: If it’s D&B 24/7 then you’re not adding anything new to your melting pot. You’re just regurgitating everything else you’re hearing!
Philth: This is it. Take Skeptical. His tunes are incredible and so distinctive to him. But there are so many people biting on his style because they’re influenced by him. They’re not adding anything to it themselves.
Tangent: I have to confess, I tried copying Calibre when I first started but quickly realised that I was being an idiot. You can’t copy a signature or a spirit in that way. He is in his own musical world. But saying that, by copying him for a while I learnt how important a hook is and that helped me work out my own style and how to put myself into his music.
Philth: Amen! So who would your dream non D&B collab be then?
Tangent: Oh yeah. I’d say Jorge Ben. He did Carolina Bella, the tune that Marky and XRS sampled for LK. Such a talented musician, I’d love to see how he works and what makes him tick.
Philth: Great answer! Do you want to know my non drum & bass collaborator would be?
Tangent: Go on then mate, might as well.
Philth: Survival… But in the kitchen!
Tangent: I knew this would come down to food!
Philth: Imagine that – b2b with Steve in the kitchen. It would be amazing. But musically, I’d say Smokey Robinson for vocals or Max Richter who’s done a lot of contemporary classical, film scores and all sorts of really inspiring pieces. He’s actually worked with Roni Size in the past.
Tangent: Wow I need to investigate this. Can I add one more collaborator?
Philth: Why not?
Philth: Yes. Let’s get them all in on one tune; Jorge Ben, Vangelis, Smokey Robinson and Max Richter.
Tangent: Super group! Final question now mate; have you ever put a waffle in a lasagne?
Philth: What? How does that even work?
Tangent: Take the lasagne out after 45 minutes, put some waffles on the top and put two more layers of pasta and cheese sauce on top and let it crisp up.
Philth: So like this super big crust on top? Almost like a biscuit?
Tangent: Yeah, it’s next level mate. It’s the future. Even more than chips on a pizza…