LA-based R&B artist Phé creates music that is groovy and colorful while shining a spotlight on her beautiful, soulful voice. From performing at the Junos alongside Sarah McLachlan to participating on the Canadian show The Launch, Phé has had a huge year. The artist recently released song titled “wtv, it’s cool” which explores the common feeling of FOMO experienced by many of us as well as our generation’s obsession with social media.
Phé also released a colorful music video to accompany the track which was created with the help of Brit Phalen and contributions from members of the creative community. We had the chance to chat with Phé about this track, her music video, and what she has in store for the new year.
Femme Riot: To people unfamiliar with you and your music, how would you describe yourself and your music to them?
Phé: Oh man. Diving right in ahaha. Okay, well firstly, I would describe myself as a human. Just like everyone else. I make mistakes, I change my mind, I say stupid stuff sometimes. I’m really just trying to figure this life thing out, and enjoy as much of my time here as I can. I’m a Taurus Sun, Libra Rising, Pisces Moon. An older sister, daughter, step-daughter, friend, and partner. I love Disney movies — specifically the classics from the 90s and early 2000s — and can sing almost every word to every Disney Princess movie. Fun fact, I hope to write (and be in) a Disney movie one day. I’m introverted when my self-worth is low, and extroverted when it’s high — something I am working to balance and to create more consistency alignment in my self-worth, overall. I’m a pescetarian and a dog person. Allergic to cats. I’m afraid of spiders, needles, and the open ocean. Just too vast for me to comprehend. I have a huge sweet tooth and love salt and vinegar chips. I’m really sensitive and highly empathetic, which often translates to anxiety or stress when not processed correctly. I love the sound of rain falling.
A bit about my music. Right now, it exists within the world of R&B, often blending in bits of other styles and sonic influences. It’s a really honest look at the person I am, the choices I make, feelings I experience, and the ways I show up in my life and the world. Some of it is sad, some of it’s sexy, some of it is nostalgic. Some of it maybe isn’t THAT great. Some of it is really good! But it all matters to me because it’s a part of this greater story, and has helped other people to see clarity in their own worlds and lives. And it will always evolve with me as I grow and gain more perspective throughout my life. So who knows what kind of music I will be making in 2 or 5 years.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Who are some of your musical influences?
I find inspiration from my daily life — growth moments, achievements, adventures, struggles, crying on the floor moments, you name it. Writing allows me to work through the things in my life that I don’t totally understand, it allows for me to heal and explore vulnerable areas of myself in a safe space, and it helps to hold on to beautiful moments and memories in a really visceral way.
Honestly, there’s so much good music out there, so the list of people who inspire me could be really long if I let it. But for simplicity’s sake, some of my biggest influences — as an artist, and in terms of the impact I hope for my art to have — are Eryka Badu, Sade, Lauryn Hill, and Solange. They are such powerful women who really believe in their work and stand for their personhood. It’s hard not to find that inspiring. Of course, there are also many young artists that I really look up to and whose music influences the choices I find myself making. SZA, Kehlani, Frank Ocean, Amber Mark, Billie Ellish, are a few that have really stuck out to me over the years in terms of songwriting/storytelling, artistry, and the sonic landscapes their music exists in.
Your new track “wtv, it’s cool” explores our current digital generation. What was the creative process for this track like? Can you tell us more about this song and the inspiration behind it?
I wrote “wtv, it’s cool” about a time in my life when I was feeling really disconnected from the community around me — even though I seemed to know everything they were doing and achieving. I was experiencing major fomo and couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t keeping up.
In terms of the creative process, this song came to life a little different than usual. Typically I see really vivid visuals as I write a song, but this song was actually born out of a visual idea that came to me one day. I saw myself dancing around a colorfully light (I saw a lot of oranges, pinks and purples) apartment in my underwear, surrounded by balloon headed mannequins frozen in a party type scene. I was trying to interact with the mannequins, but they obviously didn’t notice me there. Then the lights switched to a darker palette, and the mannequins came to life and were doing this synchronized dance with me. Weird, I know.
I immediately wrote the idea down, and a couple lyrics with it — something along the lines of “ I don’t got friends no more, they’v got lovers and ex’s, loud sex and work messes and I’m just here dancing alone…” I took this idea into a couple sessions I had scheduled, but came out the other end with a product wildly different than what I was trying to express. Then one day, I had a session booked with a friend of mine from college named Noé and a really dope producer based here in LA named Todd Spadafore, and I wanted to give this idea one last shot. So I explained it to them and shared some music the was inspiring me at the time, and we just rolled with it. We wrote and produced the initial idea for the song in that first session, and fell in love with it right away.
You were able to pull off a beautiful music video (with killer makeup and styling) with an extremely limited budget. How did you and Brit Phalen manage to pull this off?
Thank you! That really means a lot. It was quite a journey, but both Brit and I are so happy with how it all turned out.
When Brit and I first met over the summer, the idea was that we would try to produce these videos with no budget. We had zero dollars to spend, so we really had no budget to work with. But as we started planning, we found that there were just things that we were not going to be able to borrow or get for free and services that people just couldn’t volunteer. So, we decided to try raising some money, and then we would be able to cover the rest with ourselves. In the end, we raised about half of the total budget, which is incredible!
So, with the help of our communities, we came up with a small budget to produce 2 music videos. And we are so insanely thankful to everyone who contributed to and/or shared the campaign because they would not have come out the way they did without the support we received.
But beyond the budget, a lot of the gear we used was lent to us, and a ton of the crew volunteered their time and expertise because they believed in the project and wanted to be a part of what we were creating. We really got lucky with this one because we got to create with people who are really passionate about what they do and the art that they are involved with.
2019 is almost over! What 2019 accomplishments are you most proud of? What do you hope to achieve in the new year?
Crazy. This year has FLOWN by. And it’s been a busy year full of many firsts for me, which is really exciting. I competed on a national Canadian television show, The Launch, performed at the 2019 Juno awards with Sarah McLachlan, had my first sync placement — on Love Island, UK — shot my first music video, threw my first release party, and released a new single and music video that I am really proud of! This year has been big one in terms of my growth as a person as well as an artist, and I’ve really been doing a lot of the personal work that needed to be done in order to be able to cultivate the life I wish to live.
I’m super excited for 2020. A new decade! One of my biggest goals is to go on national or international tour, supporting another artist. And then to go on a little tour of my own. Who knows, this could be the year!
Mental health is something that is really important to us at Femme Riot and we love hearing about how others maintain balance in their lives. As a busy musician, what practices do you implement to ensure your health and well-being are taken care of?
Really important question. I agree completely agree that mental health is a really important topic of discussion and should be more of a focus in our day to day lives! It’s so easy to take it for granted, or not give yourself the care you need. But, when you do dedicate time and energy to promoting good mental health, it can be really transformative.
I’m pretty sensitive, just as a person — emotionally and energetically — so I try to take extra care of my mental health, just cause I prefer not to feel like crap all the time. For me, this translates to journaling and doing a short meditation every morning, and then also practicing yoga at least 5 mornings a week. I often find myself feeling really in my head and not very grounded, so yoga and meditation help to bring me back down to earth, so-to-speak, and help me find presence within my body. The journaling is just to get some clarity on whatever thoughts I find roaming around in my head when I first wake up, so I can start the day with a fresh slate.
I also really need to be sure that I get time each week just for myself — without my partner, friends, family, roommate, no one. Just me. This time is always spent differently, whether that be reading, watching some TV, taking a bath, embroidering, baking, etc. Whatever I end up doing, this time is super important for my mental health as it allows me to recharge and cleanse the energies I might be carrying around from other people I’ve interacted with.
What is the biggest piece of advice you could share with a fellow female in the music industry?
Focus on your own career/what you are trying to do with your life — don’t worry about what other people have got going on. I spent a lot of time, especially when I first moved to LA, focused on what the people around me were achieving, and it completely distracted me from my goals and the lifestyle I actually wanted to live. But it doesn’t really matter what other people are doing. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be happy for other people when they achieve great things! All I mean is that, just because someone else is doing something amazing, doesn’t mean that an opportunity is being taken from you or that you won’t also achieve similar greatness. Just invest in yourself, and focus on what you have going on and you’d be surprised by what comes your way.
Just because someone else is doing something amazing, doesn’t mean that an opportunity is being taken from you or that you won’t also achieve similar greatness.
What music are you currently listening to?
I’ve been taking it back to the 70s and 80s recently. I’m not totally sure what spurred this honestly, but I’m glad it’s happening ahaha. The music just genuinely makes you feel good and I’ve found that it’s going this warm quality that’s perfect for when it starts getting colder outside. But ya, if you were to look at my Spotify right now, it would be a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Dolly Parton, Marvin Gaye, Elton John, Aretha Franklin etc.
Anything we haven’t asked that you want to add?
Just thank you! It really means so much to be able to share these bits of myself with you guys. So thank you for taking the time to chat and get to know me a little bit. I’m so excited to see what the future holds, and to be able to continue building a relationship with all of you.