She calls Melbourne home but recently, Europe has been calling Phia and like many young artists, she answered it and found herself in Berlin. Soaking up the atmosphere of a city currently thriving creatively, the Aussie singer songwriter found her feet performing and exploring threads of songwriting and arrangement that she would eventually pour into the making of her debut album, The Ocean of Everything. Produced by Josh The Cat and mixed by Eli Crews, the album is a stunning snapshot of Phia’s style of experimental pop.
Hit play on the Spotify playlist below today and find out some more about the album from the lady herself, as she tells us some more about the material, track by track!
This song went through a lot of changes to get to this point. Originally written as a piano ballad, I came up with the repeated kalimba line when moving it to the loop pedal. Recording it was hard though and after one uninspiring recording session, Josh and I took it to our home studio and reworked it, giving it a motown-style groove, David Bowie “Dance Magic Dance” guitar riffs and casio breakdown. It’s now one of my favourites on the album and super fun to play live.
So Far, So Close
I wrote this song a few months into living in Berlin. My grandfather was Jewish and from Berlin and my grandmother had Jewish heritage and was born in Vienna, Austria. They met in Melbourne. I remember walking around the city feeling simultaneously welcomed as I could hear the language they spoke when I was a child, and also alienated, as my grandfather had to flee the country.
This song started out on the piano too and when I started gigging solo with just the kalimba and loop pedal, I stopped playing it for a while. In the first year of living in Berlin I bought a casio keyboard and fell in love with the sounds, and brought this song back into my set. Josh took the production to an epic level with extra synths and beat programming. I love the orchestral sounds he’s added too, the bells and timpani.
Do You Ever?
This is the first song Josh and I demoed together, in our old rehearsal space in Kreuzberg. It set a template for how we treated the production for the whole album. We ran the kalimba through guitar amps, and Josh chopped and changed my loops, treating them as samples to be brought in and out. It’s a song about nostalgia and when you catch yourself thinking about old boyfriends at random times and you wonder, do they ever have the same thoughts about you?
I More Than Rather Like You
A few years ago I was reading a biography of Roald Dahl, about his early years and his life during the war. In it were some love letters he wrote to his wife and in one he wrote, “I more than rather like you, I love you”. I loved the line so much I stole it and wrote my own song. I enjoy writing songs on guitar as I’m not very fluent on it, which means I use my ear a lot more, rather than relying on theory. I love the piano we added in the studio and extra guitars, reminds me of “Julia” and other White Album songs.
An old song of mine that went through such a transformation in the last few years in my live set, that I really wanted to put it on the album. It’s sort of an existential love song, me trying to balance the rational and emotional sides of my brain. Perhaps everything we feel is just a product of our biology, but that’s okay. It doesn’t make it less real.
Another very biographical song. I’m very much a triple-checking-the-oven’s-off type of person and I wrote this song as a type of therapy, hoping it would curb my obsession once I put it down in words. Alas, it has not. This is a very fun song to play live, I love the sound of the fizzing guitar alongside the kalimbas.
If Not You
This song brought together a few thoughts I’d been having for a while; the happiness and anxiety you feel when your friends start getting married, the tyranny of distance and communication in a global world. I wrote the original guitar part and Josh plays it on the record adding those beautiful moving bass lines and extra Beatles-style guitars.
The album was mixed by Eli Crews (Tune-Yards, Dear Reader, Lorde) and I love where he took the mix in this song. He’s so good at telling a story through the song, the sounds grow and adapt as the song does. This is one of the first songs I wrote when I first got the loop pedal, and it developed out of some really fun experimentation.
I wrote this song around the time of the earthquakes in Japan’ I remember seeing those awful photos of belongings strewn in the rubble. I’d also just booked a one-way ticket to Berlin and the song sort of morphed into a stocktake of my life in Melbourne, I remember looking out the window of my sharehouse in Richmond, thinking of the all the items that make up everyday life.
End Of The Day
This was the first song I ever wrote on the kalimba. I remember the day it arrived in the post and I took it out of the box and started playing it; I marvelled at how you could feel the instrument resonating in your hand as you played it. That feeling inspired the song, thinking about the hands that had held the instrument when it was being made. I love where Josh took the production, bringing in the dreamy, washy guitars and 90’s beats.
The Ocean of Everything is out now!