Written by: Maria Ekaterina
Can you share with us what it was like to complete your 1st published piece?
I worked on the Catalyst album for over a year. I’m feeling a little emotional as we roll it out. It’s not perfect, but it is raw and real. It’s me, in my crazy head. I spent every night in the studio until I had a highly personal work of art that meant a lot to me.
As artists, our work is often compared to the work of others, and juxtaposed on social media. You always wonder how your art will be received, and you start to question if the music is “good enough.” At the end of the day, “good enough” is an illusion. If music was made with heart and soul, for the right reasons, it will resonate forever. It took me a long time to realize that and stop chasing the facade of perfection. And besides, there’s perfection in imperfection everywhere you look.
Matt Hill from The Floozies told me, “Done is better than perfect.” While it might seem simple, it’s some of the best advice I ever received and I think he was right. If I kept re-working the same songs, they might have lost their original spark. And I might have lost my mind!
What do you look for when building your sets?
Building sets is one of my favorite parts of being Phyphr. I spend a lot of time planning sets in the studio, making live edits, smoothing out transitions, level mastering, etc. I try to “one up” myself every time. I think it’s important to take risks and not get too comfy.
I love to give the audience a tour of electronic music, and maybe broaden some horizons. I’m on stage to blend all the genres and instruments that inspired my own unique sound, so I often find myself playing around with all the ingredients.
I also love custom mapping Ableton for performance— I’ve essentially built my own performance template. Having control over the tracks, guitar, tones and effects is typical, but introducing automation allows me to take it all one step further. I’m able to make a lot happen on-stage, while ensuring my hands are free at the right times to shred guitar or hype up the crowd on the mic.
What biggest challenge did you overcome in 2022?
2022 was both tough and rewarding. After moving to Denver to chase this dream, I found myself booked solid, but also struggling financially. The move was pricey, plane tickets were sky high (no pun intended), and artist compensation was at an all time low. I got down to my last dollar and had no choice but to rack up some credit cards to physically get to the shows I was booked to play.
Regardless, I played over 40 shows in 2022, and rocked them all! And after pushing through the initial financial struggles, I have an authentic platform to make the changes I want to see in the industry, community, and in my own life. Hopefully I can help pave the way for the next generation of producers who do what they love for the love of the game, just like Manic Focus and The Floozies helped pave the way for me.
Moral of the story is: keep going. Push past the point where everyone else gives up. Don’t ever let your “situation” define who you are or what you can achieve. Like J. Cole said, “Flip that fuckin’ dollar to a dream!”
What is your favorite part about being on tour?
I love playing music, eating awesome food, seeing new places, and exploring between shows. The best part though, is when someone comes up after the show to say they feel inspired to chase their own dream. My mission as Phyphr is to help connect audience members with their own passions. To empower each listener to pick up their figurative “guitar” and play it for the world. It’s truly a full-circle moment because that’s what happened to me!
Rewind five years, I was attending Hulaween 2017 where I witnessed the Manic Focus Live Band for the first time. During that set, I decided I wanted to do THAT. I wanted to deliver the feelings I was feeling. I wanted to see behind the curtain and learn how it was all made. The music, the lights, the stage, the MAGIC!
Fast forward five years, and I had the privilege of performing in the Manic Focus Live Band at Hulaween 2022. John has been a catalyst since day one, and now it’s my turn to be a catalyst for the next, and so on.
Share some melting pots or collaborations that left a mark on your style.
Manic Focus has been the big brother. John taught me a lot about production and performance. It’s an honor to feature one of our collabs, “In The Clouds” on my debut album, and to play guitar in his live band. It’s even better to have such a good friend. Music aside, John is awesome and it’s always a blast to kick it.
My collaboration with Kaptain, “Seven Days” left a mark on my style, too. Stephen and I had an amazing time in the studio. Layering our voices and instruments came so naturally that we decided to perform together at Sonic Bloom. He taught me a lot, and I like to think I rubbed off on him too! I’m sure we will do more together in the near future.
Touring with The Floozies left a mark on my style for sure. Matt and Mark are awesome guys, and I appreciate them showing me the ropes when it comes to touring. They are hilarious, goofy and amazing at what they do. Their energy is contagious and I look up to those guys. I also really loved my time spent with Chandler, Spencer, Rich and Travis. One of the most talented tour parties there is.
I could go on and on, but I’ll save the rest for later. I’m very grateful to be able to work with such amazing musicians and artists regularly. Lots of collaborations, remixes and singles on the horizon this year!
Phyphr tour dates
2/10/23: Austin, TX – Empire Control Room
2/11/23: Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Company
2/17/23: Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf
4/7/23: Denver, CO – Meow Wolf
4/22/23: Wilmington, NC – Wub N’ Dub Festival
6/15/23: Rye, CO – Sonic Bloom Festival