Phrase Hits The Slopes
Fresh from releasing his new offering ‘Clockwork’ and a huge national tour, Phrase is getting set to brave the icy extremities of Falls Creek, Victoria when he performs live at MTV Snow Jam 2009.
Since the release of his second album, critics, listeners and industry folk have been lapping up the rapper’s razor sharp lyrics, hard hitting beats, soulful melodies and unlikely collaborations. Coupled with his formidable live presence, and the ambition to blow the local charts to kingdom come, Phrase is tipped to be the 'Next Big Thing' on the urban scene.
We ring up for a chat with Phrase to talk performing in freezing temperatures, the future of Aussie hip hop and what’s up with that Wendy Matthews collaboration!
MTV: So looking forward to performing at Snow Jam this year?
Phrase: Yeah I’m pretty pumped about it! I haven’t been snowboarding in ages either so really looking forward to hitting the slopes!
MTV: So, have you performed in sub zero temperatures before?
Phrase: The last three years in a row I’ve done gigs at the snow. There was a gig I was meant to do this year and I said no way! But then MTV called and asked if I wanted to Snow Jam and I was like yeah, sick!
MTV: Do you find it hard to perform in freezing weather?
Phrase: I find that you have to warm up [your voice]. It’s really different when you’re at high altitude. It seems to knock me round a bit, so I just try and have one or two ports before I go on to warm my voice up properly. [The cold weather] can be pretty taxing… Then you get on stage and jump around a bit in all your layers, and then you get boiling hot, then you strip off to your t shirt, then you get freezing again!
MTV: So you released Clockwork not that long ago – have you been happy with the reviews?
Phrase: Yeah I’ve had wicked reviews! I’ve had a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews in the newspapers which is good ‘cause they are usually hard nuts to crack. In general the vibe has been really good, the record has been selling well and I’ve been out touring, and the shows have been amazing.
MTV: You’ve worked with a really broad selection of artists on ‘Clockwork’ including Wendy Matthews. How did that come about?
Phrase: It’s pretty much been my own contacts, everyone on the album I have a special connection with whether that be musically or a friendship. With Wendy I loved the song as a kid [‘Day You Went Away’] and it was just a case of, right I don’t care if its daggy I’m going to sample and make it cool! I’d finished the song and sort of forgotten about it and then Jade [fiancé Jade MacRae] was on a TV show that had Wendy on it and so she gave it to her. And she emailed me back saying she was amazed at what I did with the song and she’d love to do something.
MTV: So you wrote and recorded over three albums worth of material in order to develop the sound and direction of "Clockwork". Was it hard to get the selection down to just one album?
Phrase: Well I think that at the end of it you just know which songs you want to go back and listen to. I think when I went to the record label I had like 22 songs on there, and they were like this is way too long! So [after 3 months] I went and cut it back again. Sometimes it’s just a blessing to have the extra time see clearly that more stuff could come off it, and I could condense it.
MTV: It’s taken a while for homegrown hip hop to gain traction in Australia – where would you like to see the scene in another 5 years time?
Phrase: Airplay is a huge thing, and it’s been very hard for Aussie hip hop to get on mainstream radio. I think we’re at the point now where Bliss n Eso have just sold a gold record, Hilltop Hoods are doing gold records, and hopefully in the next year, whether that be myself or someone else, a few more people pop up. In 5 years we should be in a position where hip hop acts will sell the same amount of units that a big rock act would and have as much power as them.
MTV: Here’s hoping! Nice chatting to you Phrase, see you at Snow Jam!
Phrase: Sweet, see you there!
MTV Snow Jam 2009, hits Falls Creek Victoria on Thursday July 30.
Snow Jam 2009 - On The 'Piste' With MTV, Premieres on MTV, Saturday August 15 @ 5pm.
To check out highlights of MTV Snow Jam 2008, click here.