PHIA releases first single “Indecision”
In 2010 PHIA (Sophia Exiner) collaborated with Blank Tape studio on the recording of her song “Something To Hold Onto,” which reached the semi finals of the “International Song writers Competition” earlier this year. Since then, she has released the first single “Indecision,” which debuted at no. 17 on the Triple J Unearthed Pop Charts and is available for free download from their website. This single is from her upcoming debut EP “Garden Of Youth” due out later in the year. As part of the long standing tradition of Melbourne singer song writers, PHIA’s is contributing to the scene and not only that is taking it to another level, by introducing a unique way of arranging and an intuitive writing style.
The EP was tracked with Joe Talia at his studio in the country and in Brunswick, and was produced by Sophia and long term collaborator Josh Teicher of Video Day. The band walked into the studio with a bunch of songs and allowed the organic process of trial and error to help shape the music. Sophia explains, “That was fun… next recording I’m going to feel a lot more comfortable leaving stuff up till we get to the studio, it’s such a creative environment, ” Sophia reflects.
Sophia then approached legendary Melbournian producer Steve Schram for mixing. He steered the tracks in a direction that Sophia didn’t expect.
“It was great but in a completely different way. It was the opposite (to the tracking phase), we handed him the recordings, and he said “Great! Come back in 2 days”. So we did! It was great feeling like we’d put in as much effort and work as we could have, and at that point you then hand it over for someone to take over the next step. I love what he did to, he’s pushed the songs as far as they could go, and for some of them in directions I wouldn’t have imagined!”
Schram has a unique approach to song shaping, as he lets the track direct his decision making in the mixing process. Sophia explains, ” I think it’s something I’ve taken away from the whole process. Not to let preexisting ideas, or how you “think” it should sound, or how it ‘should’ fit in with the rest of your world to get in the way. Just let the song tell you what to do.”
I interrupted her increasingly busy schedule to get a Q&A in regarding the new project and more…
1.What is PHIA and who writes the music?
PHIA is the name I perform under and I write the music. I perform solo a lot, but also sometimes with a band of lovely people – my sister Bethany, Clio Renner, Joshua Teicher and Lucas Barbuto.
2. What was your first earth shattering musical memory?
I remember singing Ray Charles songs with my mum at the piano when I was very little, I thought ‘Halleljuah I Just Love Her So” was an amazing song, and I loved the sound of the blues and jazz chords in the piano part Mum would play!
3. What influences PHIA and what do you write about?
Sound wise I’m influenced by a few things: my background working with improvising musicians and sound artists, so I love found sounds and interesting instruments, one of my piano teachers introduced me to the toy piano, which I love. The Beatles whole catalogue has a pretty big influence on me – I love the creative way they approached the recording studio, and the amazing gamut of sounds and instruments they used to push their songs in different directions.
I basically write about my life. I document stuff that’s going on around me, what I’m feeling. I’d love to write more made up stories, or songs about other people, but right now I think my songwriting is a way of processing my emotions, coming to terms with what’s going on inside me.
4. Top 5 Albums:
This is hard! Top 5 right now would be:
The White Album – The Beatles (or Revolver!, or Rubber Soul etc.)
The Reminder – Feist
Youth Novel – Lykke Li
Tapestry – Carole King
Yael Naim – (self-titled)
5. Last record you bought
6. What’s your pick in local music?
There’s a lot of great music around at the moment – I’m a huge fan of Ainslie Wills, Yelka is a bit of a sleeper – keep an eye out for her!, and obviously World’s End Press are about to take off, they have an amazing live show. When we just left high school I used to play in a jazz quartet with the bassist, Sashi. We had a jazz arrangement of “Tradition’ from Fiddler on the Roof, it was rad.
This collection of deftly crafted songs establishes PHIA as a clever and inventive writer with a unique and organic approach to music. This will ensure a deserved place alongside this city’s past and present song-writing luminaries, as well as an inspiration to emerging locals.
PHIA will launch the EP at the Grace Darling on the 13th of May supported by Kisshead & AXOLOTL. Not sure if you can pre-book tickets but I imagine PHIA will have outgrown this venue come mid May.