With the last Park Acoustics of 2016 coming up, we speak to the PHFAT frontman, Mike Zietsman about light and dark, playing as a threesome to on his own and what he wants the tracks to sound like going forward
In what ways has your newest music changed from when you first started?
I just write with a lot more intention now. When PHFAT was three of us, it felt more like we would use texture and profanity to create intensity and emotion. These days I’m using more musical means to get there. A song can be completely distortion free and not have a single swear word and still make someone feel a huge array of hardcore and intense emotions. In standard terms, I am writing far more Pop and Soul/RnB influenced music, but that doesn’t mean that the very heavy/dark content won’t exist anymore. I’ll be dropping a super dope Desert_Head produced intro that is very very OG PHFAT sounding at Park Acoustics.
What are the main inspirations for the lyrics you write?
As a kid in my early twenties, it was much easier to attach to angst in music. Anger is a powerful thing but there is a lot more to life. My goal at this point with music is a kinda full journey through the emotional existence of being a human being. All of it. The light and the dark. The current zeitgeist feels very “always be very happy all the time and let the world know about it” which I’m calling bullshit on. That’s how you end up living a numb life devoid of challenge and sincere feeling. On one hand, I’m inspired by the thought of suspending people’s disbelief for an hour during a rap show, in creating a space where people can forget about life for an hour and just exist. On the other hand I want to guide people through a journey that traverses life in it’s entirety, from the devilish to the divine. Those two sound completely at odds with each other, but in reality they both involve an incredible acceptance reality as it is.
How has PHFAT changed in the last five years?
Well apart from the obvious line up changes (from a three piece, to a two piece and now just me). PHFAT has grown up a huge amount. When we started out none of us had any clue that this might become a full time occupation. I secretly had it brewing as a pipe dream but I think everyone around me was a bit surprised when I actually managed to go full time with it. One of my best childhood friends told me when I first told him I wanted to be a rapper for a living that he laughed his arse off the second I walked around the corner. Listening back to the music I was making at the time, I don’t blame him. I also write music with far more intention now. When I first started writing, a song felt like a puzzle I was pulling together from the pieces that had been emptied out from a box into every strange corner of my brain. Now I feel more like a foreman pulling together a construction operation.
Do you have your own songs in your favourite playlist?
Fuck. No. By the time I’m done making a song I’ve heard it more than anyone else will probably ever hear it. There is something very satisfying about saying “Ok this is done” but I really don’t want to hear it again after that incase I hear things I want to change.
What do you hope to do with your music, besides giving it out for free?
Music is very much about the process of creation for me. If I manage to spark a couple episodes of honest self reflection, then that’d be great too.
In your opinion, who is the most influential and successful artist in your genre today, and why?
Sheeeyyaat. I dunno. In strict number terms it’s the dudes selling records. Kanye and Drake and shit. Locally it’s the Cassper’s and AKA’s and Riky’s. Lately Kendrick has been huge for me. His music just sounds incredibly honest and doesn’t sound like it was made to push numbers.
Which famous song or sound production, ultimately describes what you would like PHFat’s music production to sound like?
I’m still working on what I want that to sound like. It would be a combo of everything from NOFX to Celine Dion to Beyonce to Kendrick to Dre to Aesop Rock to Taylor Swift to Lorde to Vince Staples to Wu Tang to that song from the movie ‘stranger than fiction’ that sounds like it was recorded on a home cassette.
If you could choose to work with some of today’s established artists or producers, to take it up a notch, with whom would you like to collaborate?
Portishead or James Blake or someone like that.
Tell us something about any projects and ideas you have in store or are working on?
Nothing i’m letting out yet. 2017 is gonna bang though.
What can the fans expect to see from PHFat at Park Acoustics, besides getting down like animals in the crowd?
Couple sneak peaks and a wild ass rap show!