It’s been awhile since I have been excited for a band that makes me want to reach for the remote and blow the speakers to the next level but when PHFAT came on MK that’s exactly what happened… This may be a lame introduction to a band that needs no intro other than just listen. It was “City of Thieves” that song struck the chord to ‘more please’. As appealing as they are we at Underground Press got to ask Mike some questions…
Underground Press: You seem to be classed into a genre of Punk-Rap would you say that genres have become broader in scope? It’s easy to say your music has a dark side to it, ‘Alternative’ even?
Mike: Have genres become broader in scope? Uhm. Maybe… I dunno. To be honest I’ve always looked at genres as being one word descriptions used to catch the attention of people suseptible to noticing those words. But at the same time Rick Ross and A Tribe Called Quest both make what could be called Hip Hop? Nickelback, Led Zeppelin and Slipknot all make Rock? How are those acts related? So yeah. Genres are pretty broad. And they always have been. The reality is is that once the music is out there then people will call it what they want. Yeah our music has the occasional dark moment; we’ve always been pretty left of centre.
Underground Press: It’s evident that three personalities are at play within PHFAT yet when the songs are produced the sound is singular and diverse. How does the song writing and production ‘space’ go down?
Mike: Our main rule is never limiting any other person from making something. So if someone is having a moment then don’t stop them with crit until they are done. This means that some of the tracks are made by one of us, (for example, on the new album I made the whole of City of Thieves pt2 pretty much by myself and Narch made the whole of Prom entirely by himself) some of the tracks are just two of us, and some are all three of us. Our only rule is that the songs come first. Egos must foetsak. Also I do all the mixdowns and mastering which (I like to think) gives the tracks some sort of cohesion.
Underground Press: So any pre-show music you guys listen to?
Mike: Whatever I’m in the mood for at the time. I’m pretty amped for our launch party lineups.
Underground Press: There is a distinction of fun in your videos, how do the concepts for these videos come about?
Mike: We argue with each other for a really long time.
Underground Press: You have a love for electronic gadgets’ where does that stem from?
Mike: I have no idea. Uhm I somehow got obsessed with getting the best objective quality that I could for our music and I was broke at the time and I went online and realized that all the fanciest most expensive gear is old. So I started digging through peoples garages and scouring gumtree for forgotten bits and bobs from the past. And gathered a pretty decent little collection of vintage synths and fx boxes and microphones and stuff…
Underground Press: Then who do you admire at current in the South African music industry?
Mike: Pretty much anyone getting by without being boring.
Underground Press: How do you see the current state of the South African Music industry?
Mike: Fucking challenging. Which is only a problem if you don’t like challenges.
Underground Press: So what can’t you say on the radio? Do you find some kind of dissociation with the media in South Africa?
Mike: My main problem at the time that we wrote that song was that we were filling up clubs all over the country, with no help from any lables or anyone other than our manager and a couple sponsors and no mainstream media coverage. Nothing. It was basically all word of mouth. And whenever we tried to get our tracks on any of the radio stations they would all reply with “Not commercial enough”. It was a bit frustrating. Then our manager Brendan asked us to make a radio single. That was also a bit frustrating. So me and Narch basically sat down and vented about how we would rather be skateboarding. And how the radio was stupid because you can’t swear but most top 40 songs are either about sex or drugs. Then Disco came in and agreed with us and added his Rap. I remember turning on one of the top stations at the time and listening to a rapper go on about fucking and selling cocaine. But it was acceptable because he didn’t swear. He wasn’t even being subtle.
Underground Press: You guys have taken a fresh if not the “new approach” to the “no label” stance care to elaborate. As many artists these days need guidance and a source of light in this aspect.
Mike: We looked at our situation and realized that as far as we could see, all a lable does is act like a bank and have good media contacts. They basically take a bet on you based on their criterea for predicting your success. They wouldn’t put money into you if they didn’t think they could make it back. If you do the same thing for yourself and put the money into the same places that they do you will make more money. That simple. Basically we decided that there would be nothing more appealing to an investor than someone who didn’t need them. So we went alone.
Underground Press: Last but least, any wise words to the young bloods entering the music industry?
Mike: This shit is the same as any job. Input = output. Except the output never comes at the times that you expect it to. Ever.
PHFAT will be releasing their new album ‘Happiness Machines’ that will be launched from their website, www.phfat.com, free of charge on the 22nd of July 2013.