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Producer PHFat will be performing at The Republic of Mieliepop Music Festival from 17 to 20 March in Lothair. Perdeby caught up with PHFat ahead of the festival.
Your last album was released in 2013. When can fans expect a new album to drop?
That’s a really good question. I’ll be pretty p***ed off with myself if I don’t have an album out before 2017 is done.
How have fans responded to you since your split with Narch?
I think people picked up that it wasn’t some major Machiavellian split that went down. Narch and I just came to different places in our lives. With the way it played out it was pretty easy to see for anyone looking in from the outside, and the general consensus has been very supportive. Shows still go nuts and I’m also sitting on a couple unfinished tracks that we started together that we both want on the next release.
You are a hot festival commodity, playing at Rocking the Daisies, Oppikoppi and now Mieliepop. Which festival has been your favourite and why?
They’re so different. But I always go in on the festival sets. They’re what I live for musically. Myself and Jonathon from Bad Weather literally get hold of stage plans and s*** to customize for those sorts of shows. I haven’t played Mieliepop before but all of my Pretoria homies say it’s currently their favourite festival, which is an endorsement if I’ve ever heard one. Pretorians are like those fancy wine connoisseurs but for festivals.
You have started working with new DJs. What do you look for in a DJ to share the stage with you?
Someone who can deal with my ADD. Someone who can deal with me changing the show on the fly and who can deal with all the weird s*** that often goes wrong on stage that the crowd isn’t aware of. Things like monitors cutting out and people climbing into the booth and that sort of thing. Obviously they need to know the show and the layout backwards. Desert Head is so good on stage. He keeps his cool and reads the crowd mad well – never misses cues. I also work with Greg Abrahams occasionally who is like a jazz genius, plus he’s got funky dance moves.
Which other artists inspire you either lyrically, musically or just in general?
That’s a moving target. The most long-standing at the moment are Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples. Kendrick pulls whole albums together like nobody’s business. I put on his albums and literally just get lost listening to them. No one has suspended my disbelief like him for ages. There is a keyboardist named Omri Dahan who has been working with me on a day to day basis, and he keeps me pretty sharp on what’s happening in that kind of pre-popular-culture scene where all the coolest s*** happens first.
When you enter into a new musical project, do you take the audience into consideration or do you make music more for yourself?
If I took the audience entirely into consideration as a philosophy then PHFat would have just existed for about a year and a half as a “We love animals” cover band, and I would have never moved past straight-up shock factor in shows. Nah. I think about the audience occasionally when I’m writing but I’m mostly writing for the dork in the mirror. It can p*** people off occasionally but in the long run it means that you stay invested in your own opinion of yourself, which is what you were using when you wrote your first song and got your first fan.
Do you have anyone around you who is comfortable enough to tell you when something with your music is just not working?
Yeah. Lots of people. At the moment my main sounding board is Omri Dahan. He’s super quick to call stuff whack if it’s whack. Otherwise the producers I’m working with are all pretty straight forward.
In a recent interview you stated that an honest performance is one of the most important things. What makes an honest performance?
Just a sincere interaction. Don’t tell a crowd comfortable lies. Nobody likes that. It’s crazy how many people forget to be themselves onstage. They take on their idea of how a performer should be and it stinks of lies. It’s uncomfortable and facade-y. When I see someone on stage saying “I’m so happy to be here” I want to shout at them when I can see they are lying: “Lies! Your cat just died and your girlfriend hasn’t messaged since Thursday and you’re pretty sure it’s because she doesn’t intend to message again because being in a band means that you spend Sundays trying to catch up on sleep instead of drinking Pimms with her family in Constantia.” Why don’t you try a nice honest: “Hello you lot. I won’t lie. I’m feeling some pretty complex things right now. My cat just died and I’m pretty sure my girlfriend is about to dump me. But I’m happy to see you, you’re the best thing I’ve seen all week. Let’s all put our hearts on the line shall we?” Start blaring intro and use the intensity of your feelings to show said crowd that you mean business.