Interview: Sunshine Coast’s PHIN on “Mistakes”, songwriting and The 1975

Sunshine Coast singer-songwriter PHIN has just released latest single “Mistakes”, the first look at upcoming EP Wasting Time. With previous track “Losing My Doubts” amassing more than 30,000 Spotify streams, it’s certainly an exciting time for the young artist!

“Mistakes” is a deliciously jangly slice of indie-pop exploring the beauties and burdens of young life and young love. It’s perfect summer evening listening- team it with beers, beaches, and best friends.

To celebrate the new release, we sat down with PHIN for a quick chat!

Thanks for your time, PHIN! First things first, who or what influences your sound?

For this EP, there were a lot of influences from JP Saxe, Ed Sheeran (his OG music) and James Bay. And although I’m always getting influenced by new people, at the moment it’s gotta be The 1975, Gang of Youths, The Vanns and The Dandys.

How do you feel your songwriting has developed since you started writing music?

Significantly! It has progressed significantly. I started writing when I was 14, and all I’d write when I started out was cheesy love songs that nobody wants to hear. I guess as I’ve gotten older and started going through more and more experiences, good and bad, I’ve gotten more mature with my writing.

And sure, some people wanna hear you sing about that ‘I hate you and you broke my heart’ kinda shit but I like tackling songs in a more respectful way now.

Could you tell us a little about “Mistakes”? What is about? And how did it come to you?

“Mistakes” is about going through personal struggles and how sometimes when dealing with them we make mistakes and do things we regret, but it’s part of the process, you know? Yeah so, the lyrics came from me going through a bit of a breakup and having a drinking problem. I was fresh 18 and it was fun at the same time but still a coping thing.

And if we’re talking about the musical side of things… honestly I just sat down one night and played the chords for “Mistakes” out of nowhere, chucked in a solid four-to-the-floor, and later that night came up with the break riff. Took a couple of months to get all the lyrics and structure figured out though.

Let’s talk a little about the music video, directed by Joseph Cockerill. What’s the vision behind the
video, and what was the process like for you?

Man, Joseph is a talented director. We’re both uni students at JMC Academ – he needed an artist to shoot music video with for his assessment and I got a free music video.

Joseph took charge with this one, I gave him a bit of an idea of what I wanted the video to include (guy and girl conflict, different sceneries) and he didn’t just bring it to life, he did his special director/screen writer thing, and came up with the cool television concept, prop ideas etc.

And the process was fun, man. We became good friends over the shooting, had late nights in the Glass House Mountains, the studio, and the apartment, all running off pure caffeine.

“Mistakes” is the first track from upcoming EP Wasting Time. What can we expect from the rest of
the release?

“Mistakes” is actually a bit different to the other songs. My roots are indie folk and acoustic pop so expect some well written lyric & melodies, and with my song “Different People“, a nice acoustic duet with my friend Lily.

You started work on Wasting Time just as the pandemic made an appearance in all our lives. What
was that like for you as an artist – I can imagine trying to finish school around the same time had
quite the impact too!

Yeah so I graduated end of 2019 then jumped straight into lockdown early 2020. But honestly, the pandemic gave me the emotions and the time to write these songs. My mental health wasn’t flourishing during 2020 so I wrote and created what I was feeling and turned it into an EP.

What’s next for PHIN? 

I actually have a lot planned for 2021. The EP is getting released early 2022 and I’m getting a band together. Plan is to swipe up any gig opportunity we can.

Music wise, I’m changing direction quite a bit. I’m already making some more indie rock tunes and I’m loving it. So if you wanna catch me playing live, head to my Insta: phin_music.

And, to wrap things up, who are you currently listening to?

I am always listening to The 1975! But my other favourites at the moment are Golden Vessel, Cage the Elephant, The Vannes, John Mayer, Brockhampton, and Gang of Youths.

Huge thanks PHIN for their time! “Mistakes” is out now, and you can expect Wasting Time sometime in early 2022! Stay up to date with all things PHIN across Facebook and Instagram.

Jodie Sloan

Living, writing, and reading in Brisbane/Meanjin. Likes spooky books, strong cocktails, and pro-wrestling.