Having released his debut LP Inkstains to widespread critical acclaim last year, local hip hop artist and member of the I Forget, Sorry collective Phatchance is entering the new year with a force in his stride releasing his Inkstains Acoustic EP, launching the release with an acoustic residency at Oxford Art Factory, starting last week and running for the next two Fridays. His music having always revolved around a mixture of personal and direct lyricism matching with beats and live instrumentation, Inkstains Acoustic represents Phatchance exploring his sound, recruiting a live band to reinterpret some of the more obscure tracks off the album that were never released as singles.
We caught up with the man himself to talk about the residency and the new EP.
Music Feeds: So you’ve just started up this acoustic residency in support of the new acoustic EP you’ve got out, can you tell us about it?
Phatchance: It’s called Inkstains Acoustic and it’s five songs, four of which are from Inkstains and one of which is an unreleased original track which is going to be on my next album. We figured rather than doing the usual schtick of dropping the album and then launching it at some show somewhere we thought we’d do something a bit different, so we hooked up this free acoustic residency at The Oxford Art Factory, which started last week on the 11th of February, with two more shows schedule on 18th and 25th. It’s pretty different, we’ve got an 8 piece band, and at times there are 11 of us on stage which is a bit full on for the gallery bar, but the first one last week was great so it should be really fun.
MF: What made you want to put out an acoustic EP in the first place?
PC: With Inkstains I was working with a lot of session musicians, and that’s always been my thing, taking beats and putting live instruments over them and I’ve got a real love for acoustic instruments, like double bass and mandolin. I guess a lot of the music I’ve been listening to over the past year has been a lot of that folky sort of bluegrass folk revival stuff, like Laura Marling or Mumford and Sons and whatever else and so I kind of wanted to try and use some of those sounds and see how they merged with hip hop.
I wanted to do some kind of bridging release between Inkstains and the next album, because I knew it would take me at least until the end of the year to get it out and considering how my fanbase has grown I thought people would be looking for new content from me. So I thought a great way to do that quickly would be to rework a lot of the tracks from Inkstains to see what they’d sound like if I had written them with the kind of aesthetic I’m playing around with now.
There were a lot of different reasons to do it really, but mainly it was just to try something different. I don’t know if anyone has tried this style of production yet, especially in Australia so it’s been a cool experience trying to make something new. It’s been a lot of fun and is easily one of the best experiences I’ve had making music so far.
MF: It makes sense in that folk and hip hop share the same focus on lyrics etc…
PC: Yeah and the storytelling elements as well. A lot of the music I write is very personal and very open, and I think it lends itself to this style of instrumentation which in your head you sort of associate with that type of personal lyric based music. I think they do make a pretty natural cohesive sound, they really merge surprising well. When we first sat down with the banjo and the mandolin and stuff I wasn’t sure where it was going to head, but when we started putting the lyrics down it all seemed to mesh pretty easily and it all merged together.
Ordinarily I’m very pedantic about the way samples and parts come together and I’ve always treated it in a very electronic way where I’ll go through it again and again until we get the perfect takes, but with this EP there are lots of part where the musicians are just playing you know, just winging it ,and I think that translates much better to this style of music. There are lots of little bits of human error and human flair that makes it feel like it moves a lot more. Just stuff like string hum and finger clicks that I usually go to great pains to remove just sort of make it.
MF: You mentioned before that it was important for you to get a bridging release out to keep the fans engaged, which is something you’ve always been very aware of, of giving lots of content to your fans to keep them engaged.
PC: Yeah it was really important for me to put something out that the fans could really sink their teeth into. I had kind of been weighing up my options, I mean obviously I could’ve just done a mixtape or something, but when I look at my career and what I’m doing musically, when I look at it from above, I think that this kind of project represents me better in the long term. I think it ages a lot better than a mixtape and also it’s still original creative work.
I’m a big believer in the EP and the album, I don’t really like the idea of singles or whatever representing you to the world. I like the idea of putting together a project that has a theme that ties to your other releases. I mean even things like the artwork which is inspired by the original artwork from Inkstains, was done to link the releases in the scheme of a larger body of work.
MF: You put a lot of thought into then, it wasn’t just some stoned whim?
PC: Basically I just figured that the EP would satisfy people wanting more music from me, it would expose people to songs from the first album that might not have been used as singles or whatever and that I felt deserved more attention, and it would help build more momentum heading into the next album. It’s interesting because we didn’t use any of the singles from Inkstains on the EP, all of them are kind the more b-side tracks, but now they’ve sort of come into their own and had they been in this state back then they probably would’ve been singles of Inkstains.
Phatchance is launching his Inkstains Acoustic EP this Friday the 18th and next Friday the 25th of February at The Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar.