INTERVIEW: THANDI PHOENIX
When Thandi Phoenix walks on stage she has this magical power to have the whole crowd absolutely spellbound. Her live shows are something else and when you watch her it’s clear that she was born to do this. Her experimental fusion of rhythmic pop has impressed listeners over the years with her singles “Standing Too Close”, “Come Around” and “Tell Me Where The Lovers Have Gone”. She’s toured the country alongside the likes of Rudimental, Jhene Aiko, Tinashe and Vera Blue and she’s not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. She’s just teamed up with Rudimental for her new single “My Way” which has been a fan favourite in her live set for a little while. She unleashes a dancehall inspired sound along with a massive chorus that will quickly get stuck in your head. I recently chatted to Thandi about the importance of believing in yourself, how the collaboration with Rudimental came along and what her strangest touring experience has been so far. Check it out;
TB: Your new single “My Way” encourages people to stand up for what they believe in and to also believe in themselves. So when you were writing this song what were you struggling with that inspired this powerful sound?
TP: 100%. I wrote this at a time of reflection and I was feeling empowered and confident with where I was at in my life and wanted listeners to feel the same. There has been times where I’ve put myself down, was filled with self-doubt and hate, allowing people to feed into these insecurities and cloud my vision and judgment. But you know what I learnt, beating yourself up and allowing people to make you feel like rubbish is a downward spiral and not going to get you anywhere worthwhile. We’re given one life so you might as well give it all you’ve got and have a blast doing so. “My Way” is an anthem of self-empowerment, self-love and a call to listen to that inner voice amongst all the noise because only you know exactly what’s right for you, so fight for it.
TB: I think this song couldn’t come at a more important time with the current state of the world. What would you like to say to any young person who is confused or scared of voicing their opinion and being their true self?
TP: Say it louder, say it again and again until you believe the words you speak. It really comes down to the love you have for yourself and the confidence that brings. You need to be the first person to back yourself when no one else will. The more you nurture that inner strength, that inner voice and self love the less you’ll care about what people have to say or think about you. It’s a process but it’s YOUR life so live it how you want to. Remember no one else thinks like you, looks like you or possess your unique spirit and that is your power and what makes you so beautiful. So really when you think about it there’s no reason to be afraid.
TB: This song is produced by Rudimental and you actually toured with them in 2016 so how did the conversation of collaborating on this track come about?
TP: It’s funny because it came about so naturally and was just the perfect fit for the song. The guys had heard it in my set and thankfully vibed with it so when asked to do production on it they said yes.
TB: Your previous singles “Come Around”, “Tell Me Where All The Lovers Have Gone” and “Standing Too Close” all have quite a experimental sound. It almost feels a little DIY so when you go into the studio what are you doing to inspire yourself to come up with such different and emotive tracks?
TP: Each songs evolution is always completely different. They are born from different stories, different emotion, started on different instruments, have different inspirations and sometimes where you think something is going to end is where it really beings. So definitely you could say it’s all DIY. Just working with sound to perfectly to sculpt a moment, a story, an emotion. I enjoy trying new things and seeing where you can push it so it’s fresh and not a cookie cutter copy of what’s around at the time. I’ll keep tweaking until its just right for the song.
TB: You have a lot of unreleased material that you perform during your live show. So what’s next for you? When are we going to hear studio versions of these tracks?
TP: I do have a lot of material new and old that I like to work into the shows and also see how people react to them first hand. It’s the best gauge of what material people are feeling. This year you’ll definitely be hearing a lot more of them, not just at the live shows.
TB: So I have to say, your live show is absolutely incredible. Your interaction with your band is so tight and the flow you have between all the songs is seamless. So when you go into rehearsals how do you guys get to that polished sound and look?
TP: Thank you so much! Performing live is a top priority for me and what I love so much about making music. My band are absolutely amazing. They’re my best mates and they’ve worked their butts off to make it sound great and make sure the records translate just as strong in the live setting as they do recorded. I think a lot of the polished effect is just by doing it and getting in the rhythm of things. The interaction and flow is a natural thing. My show isn’t too scripted, I mean I know what order the songs are in but what happens in between depends on the synergy on the night because every crowd is different and when there’s a genuine connection things change accordingly. Obviously in rehearsals we’ll run the set, make sure everyone’s comfortable with their parts, levels are good, structure is right, but its not until you do it in front of an audience several times that you really know whether or not its working.
TB: As said before you’re no stranger to touring, so what has been the weirdest or funniest thing to have happened on a tour so far?
TP: Funniest thing that comes to mind would have to be quite recently when we were in Austin for SXSW. The fellas checked into the AirBnB before me and when I asked about it they wouldn’t tell me straight, they kept saying “Oh wait till you see”. So I built up in my mind some horror story but when I get there everything looked great, squeaky clean, nicely furnished, spacious bed etc. etc. Good Good. Not until I go upstairs where the guys rooms were and all of a sudden the ceiling dropped and I literally broke my neck, had a hunch back trying to stand in this 4ft high hobbit house! I died in hysterics. I really couldn’t believe it and felt so bad for them but no one could help but laugh it was so ridiculous *laughs*. There was even a bathroom at that height!!
TB: Lets play a little game when you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind.
TB: The emoji that best describes me is…
TP: The pink painted nails. Its sassy, it’s classy, its a “boy bye” + “yaaaas queen” state. And pink is my favourite colour!
TB: Most mornings I…
TP: Want to sleep in JUST a little longer.
TB: If I could form a super group with any other band or artist it would be…
TP: A new age Spice Girls with myself, Vera Blue, Dua Lipa, Leikeli47 and Billie Eilish.
TB: One thing I can’t travel without is…
TP: Lip balm.
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be…
TP: Teleportation because travel time’s a bore.