2018 has been a crazy busy year for Thandi Phoenix! In March, the Sydney-based artist played SXSW in Austin, Texas, before jetting back to Aus to perform at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony alongside the likes of Amy Shark, Yothu Yindi, and The Veronicas. She’s also released her bangin’ single ‘My Way’, produced by Rudimental, which has amassed over 1.2 million Spotify listens in the three months it’s been out. And it’s only June!
To round out this hectic start to the year, the singer is set to play Purple Sneakers’ Twelfth Birthday show this month as part of Vivid Sydney, before heading to Jindabyne for Snow Tunes in September with artists like Violent Soho and The Smith Street Band.
We caught up with Thandi to chat about her plans for the rest of 2018, her influences, and reality TV.
Music Feeds: What was the process for writing your latest single ‘My Way’ like?
Thandi Phoenix: It was a great one! I had some lyrics written down and knew I wanted to write something in that vein. I had a session with Stu Cratnon and Bertie Blackman one day and the song came about. It was really quick, it all happened in a day, really. I just wanted to write about freeing yourself, backing yourself, and believing in yourself, and doing things how you feel is right, not based on other peoples’ opinions and everything. Then the collaboration with Rudimental came about when I was lucky enough to be their support in 2016 – I met them the year before that though, ’cause I did guest vocals for their support that year. It was kind of like, I was playing it in my sets and it was a drum ‘n’ bass track, but I needed some extra production done on it and it was right in the guys’ vein and up their alley, so I asked them if they could, you know, put some production on it and gee whiz, they accepted!
MF: I’ve seen on Spotify that there have been quite a few different remixes of the song. Did you choose the people who did those, or were they submitted to you?
TP: My label kind of showed me a few different people, ’cause, now I’ve got ties in the UK, so they put forward a few different people there, which is cool ’cause I didn’t know everyone. Yeah, and I just put out a new acoustic version last Friday as well.
MF: You’re playing on the lineup for Purple Sneaker’s Twelfth Birthday.
TP: Yeah, it should be a whole lot of fun that night!
MF: It looks so good! Who are you most excited to see playing there?
TP: Oh my gosh, my mind is blown, I feel like I’m going to get there from the beginning of the night and just soak it all up, because it’s such a good lineup, it’s stupid! I’m stumped for choice on that one, I’m just honestly excited to see everyone on the lineup.
MF: Who are your favourite artists coming out of Australia right now?
TP: I do love me Vera Blue, she’s amazing. Kira Puru is awesome as well, Peking Duk’s always a lot of fun, aren’t they? The Set Mo boys, they’re really awesome. There’s so many great Aussie artists, to be honest. Milan as well, she’s another one that’s coming out at the moment. I think we’ve really got a massive bunch of talent here.
MF: Who would you say your biggest influences are?
TP: That’s a tricky one, ’cause I listen to so much music, and like, my style has ducked and dived and changed so much as well since when I first started. Growing up I used to love like, Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Lauren Hill, Spice Girls, like all those super strong females. Then I started listening to more electronic stuff, so obviously like Rudimental kind of got me into that drum n bass world, and then UK acts like Disclosure. It’s so hard now as well with like Spotify and Apple Music when you get onto a playlist, sometimes I don’t know who I’m listening to because I just go shuffle, and you’re in this whole new world. I’ve been obsessed with just going into different playlists and stuff. I’m liking a lot of house music at the moment. Things that make you feel good and make you want to dance is what I’ve been listening to a lot of lately, but I’m inspired by everything, like life inspires me – all different stuff.
MF: Some people get inspired by visual art, movies or tv shows, do you have anything like that that you’re really into right now?
TP: [Laughs] Oh, this is so bad! Music is definitely my thing, but then especially in Winter now, I’m a bit of a homebody, and I’m just getting into all my series at the moment. I just started this series the other day – actually yesterday I had a little binge session – called The Fall. It’s like a crime, mystery, thriller kind of thing. Other than that I’m really bad, I love my trash television and I actually wrote a song that I really find beautiful by watching a trash television show [laughs].
MF: Ooh, what one?
TP: ‘First Dates’ [laughs]. But honestly, you can find something to inspire you from everywhere. I wouldn’t say trash television is my inspiration, but you know, you can find it anywhere!
MF: I get you though. I just got Stan and they have 16 and Pregnant on there.
TP: Oh. My. Gosh. Out of control!
MF: I watched all of it in like two days, I don’t even care, you’ve just got to marathon it.
TP: Of course, of course! I got my friend’s password for Hayu, and that’s like, even worse than Stan I think. It’s just literally all of the reality shows.
MF: Don’t tell me that!
TP: Yeah, do it, do it, do it! I’ll give you a password [laughs]. It’s so dangerous, it’s just got all the Real Housewives, all the Kardashians, all these shows that I didn’t even know existed. I got shown this show that was about nails, like it was a competition about the best nail artist. I was like, who knew this shit existed?!
MF: Do you have any plans for touring coming up?
TP: I’ve got some shows. I haven’t planned to do my own tour run, but I think come next single I will hopefully get out on the road and meet some lovely people. They haven’t been announced yet, but I’ve got a couple of potential fun supports coming up, and I’ve got the Purple Sneakers party, then another festival in September. A few more things are coming through for the end of the year for festivals and stuff, but it all hasn’t been announced yet.
MF: It’s all super secret still?
TP: Yeah, I’ve got shows coming up, but they haven’t been announced.
MF: You mentioned a new single just before, is that also super secret?
TP: Yeah, I haven’t locked in the date yet for the release, but I’ve got new music waiting in the wings that I’m really excited to put out.
MF: Any plans for an EP or full length release?
TP: I’m just putting out singles for the moment. I think when the time is right I’ll drop an EP or an album, like I have enough stuff for an album, but I’m just kind of, you know, just spreading the word, just getting out there bit by bit, making people hear me and then I think I’ll drop some heat [laughs].
MF: As far as plans for the rest of 2018, you’ve got some cool shows coming up and this new single, or maybe more than one single? Any other plans?
TP: Yeah, it just depends how everything spreads out, but hopefully two more. You just never know, you know, when these release dates get pushed back, and what not [laughs]. But yeah, I’ve got them, I could just put them out, but we’ll wait. Just a bunch more shows, hopefully do a trip overseas to Europe and do some writing, just keep putting out music, keep writing music, keep doing shows.
MF: Is there anywhere you haven’t played yet that you’d really like to?
TP: Yeah, the only time I’ve done a show overseas was this year when I did SXSW in Austin, and that was super cool. It just kind of made me be like, damn I really wanna travel with my band and get overseas. I’d love to do a Europe tour, that would be crazy! My drummer plays for JOY and he’s just over there now with her, ’cause she got asked to do the Demi Lovato tour. It’s so nuts, he just keeps sending me videos and I’m like ‘I wanna be there!’. It’s so crazy ’cause he’s like ‘okay, so I fell asleep in Sweden and I woke up in some other country’. Like, we’ll drive to Melbourne for like, forever, and then they’re in like 4 different countries by that time! So yeah, that’d be cool to get over there and do some shows, but you know, baby steps, whatever comes!
Catch Thandi Phoenix performing live at Purple Sneakers’ Twelfth Birthday at Sydney’s The Lansdowne Hotel on Saturday, 16th June. Grab tickets here.