Our ‘Track By Track’ guide sheds light on the stories behind some of our favourite artists’ music.
A multidisciplinary artist, And Is Phi, who hails from Norway via the Philippines and is now based in South East London, offers a captivating blend of cultural influences and artistic perspectives that genuinely stand out in the creative landscape. The jazz community in South East London serves as a diverse backdrop for her artistic expression. This creative hub has seen her collaborate with the likes of Steamdown, Emma-Jean Thackray, Hector Plimmer, Momoko Gill, Marysia Osu and more.
“Double Pink” is a mesmerising debut offering by And Is Phi, aka Andrea Isabelle Phillips. The 7-song album is a sonic painting, with each track crafting a vivid, emotional landscape. Phillips skillfully combines elements from various genres and artists, including the folk-inspired stylings of Joni Mitchell and the experimental genius of Frank Zappa. At the same time, the 90’s R&B elements add an extra layer of depth to the record’s sound. The smooth and soulful rhythms, combined with Phillips’ emotive vocals, create a sense of nostalgia while still feeling fresh and contemporary. Madlib’s “Shades of Blue” also significantly influences, especially in ‘There’s A”.
From battling corruption and violence in Manila to DJing in Oslo to losing a large record collection in a warehouse fire to making friends and family in the jazz community in London. A scene, landscape, or environment are all elements Phillips visualises when writing her intimate to widescreen songs.
Phillips says, “It has been a long time coming in cultivating a first body of work and I have a lot to say and ways I want to say it. I made this music with my most cherished people. As an introduction it is so important that everyone gets to meet me, deeply, bare, and as quirky as I really am”.
Below, Phillips breaks down the stories behind her debut album track by track.
Double Pink: This song is an invitation to be as unapologetically hungry as you please after a long absence of life giving passion and trust in oneself. You’ve woken up from a deep and difficult lull and are starving for feeling and experience. It is erotic, primal, beautiful, the pulsing march of a setting/rising sun.
White Noise: Is the recovery song playing in your soul the first time you made it back out to the dance floor on your own after a heart break so massive it laid rest to the person you used to be. It’s moving through a myriad of pictures holding grief but also catching light that changes the way you look around and hold yourself. You grow through care in a restorative solitude, and with new found grounding remind yourself ‘it’s okay’.
Why I’m Shy; Is a voice given to the wounded over-lover. It is resilience in the face of one’s sincerity being toyed with, facing the recklessness of false hope, and choosing a protective solitude. Sometimes we earn the right to be shy for a season, or as many as we need before we can truly discern between real love and escapist charm.
There’s A; Is a tunnel of time and space angling and landing into an expression of resolve over a heavy distortion driven climax with a pep talk. It’s the wild card of this album. It’s heavy on imagery and all atmosphere with a steady boom-clack. Only towards the song’s end do all the pieces of lyrical phrase and dissonant melody come together. This very intentionally is to mimic the messy process of moving through the dark and realizing that your weaknesses are also your strengths. You are meant to do, be, live what you love.
Working; This is an exhale of battle fatigue that breathes in the defiance of being a relentless dreamer. Living a life that can be in direct contradiction to Capitalism is no easy feat, but we eat beauty and truth from the gardens we tend together. This is a sonic journey from moody hip-hop to full on psychedelic revenge. Also, it is a celebration of the artist and what we choose, but sometimes endure, in order to be so connected with life experience. Through different perspectives, ways of living, relationship with spirit, we help others keep that engagement and connection alive too. That’s what stands to make us a radical opposition to The Machine.
Staaar; Human civilization spends so much focus and resources reaching for stars and planets, questions and answers, beyond where we are. We are quite literally all living on one of the most beautiful libraries of life in the cosmos that we have found to date, yet we want to escape it? There is such a deep human wound around accepting our worthiness of love and the miracle of life that we straight up reject it even as it sustains us. This song is a call to come home, and understand where we really are, and to participate accordingly.
Eyes That Open; This is a ballad for sensitive people, written by two sensitive persons (myself and Matt Gordon aka Pie Eye Collective), for another sensitive person Menelik Mimano. Present time finds that both Menelik and Matt have left us, their contributions to people’s hearts, minds, and sensibility through music is still unfolding in ways that time will only continue to reveal. The song is driven by water spilling, shells and seeds rustling, woodwind and keys rising and falling like waves. It offers a moment to walk as those who see with the depth of the ocean and respond with the generous feeling of every shape shifting compassion. Above all else this piece of music is to bring healing to other sensitive souls, you are seen and cherished.