This past year has changed a lot of things. Your state of mind, outlook on life, maybe the way you take care of yourself mentally and physically, the list can go on and on. For a lot of musicians, this past year changed the way that they write, where they draw inspiration from, their recording process, who they work with, so on and so forth.
Last year we covered Phangs' debut album, Who's Gonna Break Your Heart Tonight?. We dove deep into his world of self-questioning, mental stability, and purpose, which he then penned into music as an emotional outlet. Through his music, he created a sanctuary for his own vulnerability. In his latest EP, I Love Everything, the emotions change. The EP stands as a reminder that life is short and life is good. There are so many things going on in the world today, and sometimes you need to take a step back to realize what you have in front of you.
We had the pleasure of catching up with Phangs and submerged into what this past year of writing looked like.
Ones to Watch: Take us through the writing process behind I Love Everything. What ultimately inspired you?
Phangs: Honestly, COVID and quarantine was what pushed me to wanting to make a fully collaborative collection of songs. I found out quickly that collaboration is something I genuinely crave. And that's not even just for music. I just enjoy creative people. So being away from everyone was tough for me. I got depressed and overwhelmed by everything. The moment I decided to fully throw myself into this project, I just felt more human. So I guess the process of writing these songs was more so just about finding joy for myself.
You've been steadily dropping tracks from the EP all year, tell us a bit about your first single, and the track that welcomes us into the EP, "Product of the 90's."
Well, when I truly think of me at my happiest, a giant piece of that is my childhood. Specifically, the culture that surrounded my upbringing, the lack of decisions I really had to make, just overall simplicity. So, I made a song about that and then tied it into how much being a '90s kid is kind of a brain fuck. because we were really the last generation that was born to no world wide web and we literally grew up alongside the internet. Also, having Phoebe Ryan on the song was a bullseye, to me. We hadn't met, prior to the song, but our mutual friend Bonnie McKee heard the song and immediately said Phoebe was the person for the song. And when the queen of pop music says something, you listen! haha
What's the story behind the name of the EP, I Love Everything?
It's a reminder to the version of myself that I was sinking into during quarantine. Nobody is truly all good or all bad. There's beauty somewhere in everything, and I wanna remember to look for it. That's the reason these songs even exist.
Is there an underlying message behind the EP itself?
Yeah, just again, that there's beauty out there. Even in the worst times. Even in a pandemic. Even with wild politics. You can find beauty if that's what you recalibrate the lens that you're viewing everything through.
Which song is your personal favorite on the EP and why?
Oh man. That's tough. Maybe "A Hurt Like That." My childhood hero was Matt Thiessen, and I'm lucky to call him my friend now and have gotten to tour the country with him a few times. So having him on that song was a dream. And honestly, it rips live. Probably my favorite to perform, as well.
Which song was the most fun to write/record?
Easily "Digital Age." My co-writer/producer, Justin Amundrud, and I originally sat down with acoustics, thinking we'd write a calm downtempo song. We tried to force that for like 20 mins then decided to make a track that felt like the complete opposite idea. I think we wrote and recorded "Digital Age" in like 45 minutes. It was just some honest thoughts with a hook that felt applicable. Having LFO hop on that one was insane for me. Their song "Summer Girls" was my ultimate childhood summer song.
This EP is a bit more upbeat than your album from last year. What changed?
True. I guess I write the kind of songs I mentally need, myself, when I personally need them. It's all circumstantial and from a genuine place wherever I am when I sit down to write. Seems like I needed these songs for now.
It seems that everytime we see your name on socials, it's another sold out show. Tell us a bit about your EP release event and upcoming tour. What excites you the most?
Haha yeah, it's crazy! I'm lucky to have people that care about the stuff that I make. This EP release show is special because it's at the new Gibson Garage in Nashville and I'm also releasing a merch line with a custom designed guitar through Kramer, which is under the Gibson Guitar umbrella. It's insane to even say that again right now haha but the show is going to rule! Lots of guests and surprises too!
What are you hoping this EP and upcoming shows do for you? What goals do you hope to exceed?
I try not to get too far ahead of myself. I'm just trying to make songs that connect to people that need them. That simple. And I feel like that goal is being met, so overall, I'm thrilled that this is what I get to do for a living. Music, to me, is a service industry and I'm just trying to make sure I'm serving people the best I can.
After this EP, how do you hope to be perceived as an artist on an all-around scale?
I guess I just want to be perceived as someone who takes the experience of music seriously, rather than taking myself too seriously, if that makes sense. I just feel like everyone is so concerned about perception lately, and all I want to do is be the artist that takes care of the people that need their emotions serviced. I want to be the person that allows people to feel what they need to feel, when they need it most.