Writing by Molly McKew & Phia
The incredible singer and looping aficionado Phia has recently released her third EP “The Woman Who Counted the Stars”, featuring a brand new sound she describes as “intergalactic juno synths colliding with fuzz guitar and vintage Casio keyboards”. The EP was in part inspired by an interview the singer came across with Björk, where the quirk-pop legend said: “Women in music are allowed to be singer songwriters singing about their boyfriends…If they change the subject matter to atoms, galaxies, activism, nerdy math beat editing or anything else than being performers singing about their loved ones they get criticised.” As the singer says, in true baddass style, “challenge accepted”.
Ramona was lucky enough to chat to Phia about the top five records that has influenced her – get reading for some musical inspo!
This album is playful, intricate, conceptual, danceable – all elements I try and get into my own music. Camille uses her voice in such an innovative and interesting way and I love her use of vocal percussion. There’s always something great about listening to an album in a language you don’t speak, you end up listening to the sounds and textures in a different way. This is the album where she has a drone note (or thread – le fil) running through the whole album – literally the whole album, it doesn’t stop. Such a cool idea, and weird how well it works!
I saw her live earlier this year the Melbourne Recital Centre and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to! She’s an amazing songwriter, I love her use of repeated phrases, and her songs can be almost hymn-like and can achieve a transcendent mediative state. She writes a great riff and the way she plays with rhythm is so good, in her interactions with her band and just her own phrasing. On stage she was this fantastic mix of being incredible at what she does but also honest and raw and relatable. I learnt a lot from watching her.
This is a pretty underrated album I think. I listened to it on repeat while grant writing in Italy when I had a break from a solo tour. I love how Kimbra pushes the boundaries in her own creative practise. There’s some really good songs on this album, my favourite is probably Love in High Places. Her production is out of this world too – really interesting beats and sonic landscapes.
This is her second album. I enjoyed her first but it was so inspiring to see the places she went on this one. Her voice is so silky and textured and the instrumentation and arrangements are gorgeous. I love the rising orchestration on opening track “Unstoppable”, hinting at galaxies and space travel as she uses gravity as a metaphor for a changing relationship.
I love the way Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards uses her voice; she sings, chants, shouts, screams, and it’s all really compelling. I love the rawness and messiness of the sounds on this album, and how she sings about issues and weaves that into really danceable, singable songs. She’s a looping artist and I’ve learnt a lot from seeing the difference between her recorded songs and her live versions; they always reference each other but aren’t exactly the same.
Stream ‘The Woman Who Counted the Stars’ EP
Nov 30 – The Old Bar – Melbourne
Dec 2 – The Newsagency – Sydney
Dec 3 – The Grace Emily – Adelaide
Dec 8 – City Sounds, Brisbane
Dec 9 – Smith’s Alternative – Canberra
More info on shows and ticketing can be found at Phia’s official website – http://www.listentophia.com/