Since being swept up in the wake of the dubstep phenomenon in 2006, classically trained musician and sound scientist Phaeleh has been making quite the name for himself (and not just because most people don’t know how to pronounce it – it’s ‘fella’). After the release of his soul-soothing debut album Fallen Light in 2010, Phaeleh A.K.A Matt Preston, has been touring hard and bringing his harmonious sound to homes, headphones and a fair few hundred lucky cities around the world. His range of influences have resulted in an equally diverse musical output, from electronica to breakbeat to dubstep, but one thing is for certain – his sound is personal and distinctive. The release of his latest EP The Cold in You has been met with glowing reviews after delivering his unique mixture of odds and ends rarely seen within the field he’s fallen in to. We managed to catch a minute with him before he sets off on his Australasia tour in November to see what makes him tick.
Why did you choose your particular artist name, Phaeleh?
I liked the shape of the letters next to each other, and it would also make google results and getting a myspace address pretty easy!
You're a classically trained musician and it’s apparent in your music. How would you describe your particular music vibe now, and how/why did you become involved in the dubstep scene?
I think my music always has a stronger focus on harmony and emotional content rather than stripped backed rhythms, which is why it works on the home listening tip probably more than in clubs. I'd been producing electronic music for years and taken in a diverse range of influences, I had friends involved in promoting in London who put me onto Dubstep at the start of 2006, and as my stuff around that tempo started getting some attention I started making more of that than the other styles I was producing.
When you were growing up who was your biggest musical influence? Where do you get your inspiration from these days?
Well as a young kid it would have to be listening to my Dad’s music, which was typical Beatles, Stones and Mike Oldfield kind of vibes. Though after that I'd say my classical guitar teacher was responsible for a lot of the approaches to music I still use today. These days I tend to be more influenced by life and my general mood rather than any particular style of music.
You now have your own record label, Urban Scrumping. Tell us a little about how that came about?
I got bored of never hearing anything back from labels after spending several years sending out demos, so I just decided to stick some of my tunes online myself! For most of the download stores you needed a label name as well as an artist name, so I just used Urban Scrumping, as I'd watched a Bill Bailey DVD the night before.
Can’t beat Billy Bailey! On that note what is the funniest/most embarrassing/favourite story that’s happened to you at a music event or set?
Being far too drunk in Budapest is one of my favourite memories! The promoter had a standby DJ wait on stage for the first 30 minutes because he was sure I was going to pass out, but luckily it turned out to be one of the best gigs I'd played.
If you were taken completely out of your comfort zone, what type of music would you be interested in making?
I love such a diverse range of things, but I'd like to be involved in something which combines live instrumentation and sampling, probably with quite a funky/jazzy feel, but with elements of house and techno as well. That does sound quite terrible though, so I might stick with what I'm doing!
How do you feel your personal style has evolved over the years?
In my opinion my style hasn't changed a lot, it's the production that has improved and become a lot more suitable for playing in clubs alongside listening at home. I think the sound is just a lot cleaner and is more coherent across tracks now compared to a few years back.
What words of advice could you give to aspiring musicians these days?
Just do your thing! If you're emulating the style of others you'll need to be as good if not better to get noticed, so I'd always just follow your own creative instinct and stay true to what you want to do musically, as opposed to following trends or hype in the hope of getting discovered.
You've got big plans for the rest of 2011 with your Australasia tour, what can we expect from you in 2012?
Well hopefully be getting back on the music properly as been having a bit of time off recently. I'm quite keen to spend a lot of time on the follow up album to 'Fallen Light'. I'm sure I'll continue playing out a lot too, so hopefully get to see some more of the world!
Are there any artists at the moment we should keep our eyes on for big things in 2012?
I think people like Kahn and Killawatt are making some ridiculous tunes at the moment, so I’m guessing they'll continue to do so next year!