Interview by Ella Cigognini // Photography by Arjun Sohal
Phoebe Go is a master at taking the next step. As her new single premieres tonight, the Australian artist sat down with Ramona to talk growing up, grounding yourself and new beginnings.
RAMONA: Hi Phoebe, welcome to Ramona! Thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me a little bit about your songwriting, what was it like growing up with music and turning it into a career?
I started writing songs because I liked listening to them. And I didn’t know how to do it so I just gave it a crack. It’s interesting, there was never a moment where I just decided I wanted to be a singer or songwriter, it was just something I was really taken by. It’s sort of wild that I’m still doing it and I can see myself doing it forever. It’s just something I like doing.
RAMONA: Were there any inspirations that you drew from growing up, and do you still find yourself going back to them for support now?
Well, I think everything around me is always the inspiration. In the way that I write, it’s hard to capture exactly how or why or when the inspiration comes. One of my favourite albums ever is Bright Eyes ‘I’m Wide Awake This Morning”. That lyricism is something that really struck me and I thought ‘that songwriting thing is something really magical. I want to get in on it.’
RAMONA: Would you classify your music in a specific genre?
The way I write probably comes from country folk music. The way I start a song, I sit with my guitar or piano and just start writing about my feelings. In terms of stylistic and production methods, I just try to make the sound serve the song. I think it ended up in the indie folk world.
RAMONA: How did you transition from your previous projects, Snakadaktal, Two People and Phoebe Lou, into the artist you are today?
Phoebe Go is the solo project, where it’s just me. It’s not something I’ve made with other people and something that was probably a matter of time. With the other guys, going our different ways came organically. I wound up at the start of lockdown with all this time and thought ‘Why the heck not?’. It took a bit of relearning I think, and remembering and time to feel comfy writing on my own again, because I got so used to writing and bouncing ideas off people.
My songwriting is personal stuff, so it takes a bit of courage to go out and do it. And I’m glad I did, I don’t think it would be worth it if I did it half-assed and didn’t write the music I wanted to write.
RAMONA: Your latest single, Something You Were Trying is beautiful, and filled with so much emotion. How did you channel so much storytelling and feelings into the emotional process?
I think for me that song was like capturing a moment in time, and trying to say it as honestly as I could. I was hesitant to even say those things to myself. It took a bit of patience, and a bit of ‘Fuck it. Just say it.’ And I think it helps that the song feels quite playful.
RAMONA: This process seems like it is a bit of self-care or self-therapy, especially how you pour so much emotion into your music.
The processing of the emotions itself is quite a therapeutic thing, and it happened a bit all at once. It’s interesting though when songs are so personal because in my world once a song is finished, I view it as a song and ideally I’ve had some healing come out of it too. And usually by the time the song comes out six months later I just think ‘It’s just a song.’
That’s the beautiful thing about bottling a feeling into a song, you get to lean into the hard stuff and turn it into something that ideally helps you. The sick thing about it is that it keeps me moving forward.
RAMONA: How did the creation of Something You Were Trying, transition into the birth of your newest single 7Up?
For a long time I wasn’t ready to write it, because writing songs for me meant that I was letting go of something I wasn’t ready to let go of something that wasn’t serving me anymore. 7Up is about change and trying to put myself first. There’s obviously a resistance to let go of stuff, even if it’s not serving you anymore, but I loved writing this song because it is so fun. It is such a little pocket rocket of a song.
RAMONA: You’re on tour with Briston Maroney across the States, what’s that experience like while releasing a single? What’s coming up for Phoebe Go post tour?
It’s a busy time. It feels good though, and to play [7up] when it comes out, most nights of the week, and get to know the music a whole lot better is really exciting. It feels intense, but I feel really great about it. [My music] has evolved a lot just based on what project I’ve been in, and it’s cool because it’s the first time I’ve been so myself in the writing.
There’s always a million things to do and a million decisions to make surrounding my music, but hopefully I get to just keep doing what I’m doing.
Phoebe’s latest single 7Up is out now. Listen wherever you get your music.