Wednesday 16 January 2008

Bristol is constantly attracting new talent to it's heart and somebody who is drawing a lot of support from the underground is the man like PHAELEH, who also records under the electronica alter ego PRESTON. Originally from Wiltshire and now transplanted to this fair city to unleash his amazing production skills on an unsuspecting public, BUG caught up with him for a chat about dubstep, astral funk workouts, milk-deprivation rage and lots of bass.

Who, what, where and why is PRESTON / PHAELEH?

‘Preston’ and ‘Phaeleh’ are the alter egos of myself, Matt Preston. They’re both outlets for my own computer-based music, which is something I’ve been into since I was at school. ‘Phaeleh’stemmed from a live project called “Jipcore” I started with a mate to play silly rinse out jungle at parties a few years ago. This slowly got a bit more serious, whilst incorporating different styles so I felt the name wasn’t suitable anymore, as the music lacked the required ‘jipness’. ‘Preston’ is the name that my more chilled out music is done under, though this has taken more of a back seat in the last few years as my love of bass developed.

Where does PRESTON end and PHAELEH begin? When you make music are you in a specific production mindset or just more freeform?

This is a tricky one, on one hand it would be easy to say that ‘Phaeleh’ is heavier and more dance floor orientated that ‘Preston’, though ‘Preston’ live sets often include amen rinse-outs, whilst ‘Phaeleh’ also writes the occasional chilled tune. Over the last few years my attitudes to not only music but everything else have shifted quite a lot, and as a result my studio-based music started to focus more on heavy drums and big bass, rather than ambient doodles in strange keys and bizarre key signatures. There are clear crossovers between the two outputs, but I think you could summarise it by saying that ‘Preston’ is what you might want to listen to at home after a good rave session, or if you feeling slightly let down by humanity. Whereas ‘Phaeleh’ is mainly aimed at being played through big speakers and is a reflection of what I would like to hear when I’m out and about.

In terms of making music, I think the mindsets are similar between the two. I tend to have to be in a certain frame of mind to write music, generally if I’m in a good mood I’ll leave the music well alone, as it will inevitably result in a self-indulgent astral funk workout. At the other end of the spectrum, if I’m really desperate to write music then it tends to result in nothing worthwhile. I think it’s fair to say that I need to feel chilled out about the process, and from my experience the best stuff tends to be written when I’m feeling a negative emotion of some kind, either just feeling slightly melancholy or possible in a bad mood as someone has rinsed the milk resulting in a lack of tea potential.There are odd occasions where I hear a fat tune or mix and it makes me run home and write some music. I rarely know the music I am going to make before it happens, so I suppose to a certain extent it is all quite freestyle.

What draws you to the styles you make, as there's an atmospheric connection between the guises?

Both Electronica and Dubstep allow for a level of detail and sonic articulation that I always struggled to fit into the old ‘Jipcore’ live sets. It was in 2006 that I wrote my first tune that could be classed as ‘Dubstep’. I found that it allowed me to combine the production techniques and ideas that I had already established through my ‘Preston’ output, with the new improved beats and bass sounds I had created as part of the ‘Jipcore’ live sets.

I think originally I was drawn to Electronica as it was a way I could make music without the hassle of being in a band. When I started making music for more than just a pastime I was at a stage where I wanted some fresh sounds and influences, and that was exactly what I found in the music of Aphex Twin, Lacklustre, and Boards of Canada etc. When I was younger I was very focused on making my music emotional, intricate and musical, with a sense of depth that challenged what I was hearing at Electronica nights at the time. It’s ironic that I’m now into a genre which a lot of people wrongly perceive as being one-dimensional music that lacks emotion and musicality.

In Bristol right now there are a lot of producers trying their hand at making Dubstep, what sets you apart from the others?

I think I’m definitely approaching it from a slightly different angle from a lot of producers, who might have originally made drum and bass or garage. Personally I think my music tends to deviate from the essential Dubstep checklist. This often means that certain tunes end up more suitable for playing out then others, and more often than not results in something a bit rubbish, but generally I just write what I feel like writing at any given moment. I’m also quite naive as to what is happening in the ‘scene’, I generally know tunes from ear and many people could testify that I’m crap at knowing who or what is happening in the ‘scene’ at any time. I’ve been told that this has quite a positive impact on my music, though I guess that’s for other people to decide.

How do you assess the music scene in Bristol right now? Who else do you consider to be breaking through locally? What drew you here in the first place?

I can only base this on my experience since being in the city, but from where I’m sat it looks pretty healthy. There are lots of new producers appearing all the time, as well as new nights popping up, all with a healthy love of music. I think that’s the thing that I love so much about the city, people’s genuine love of music.

In terms of breaking through I guess it works at different levels. People like Forsaken and Peverelist are writing some well lush stuff and I hear them in a lot of mixes these days. Atki2 is someone I hear people talking about outside of Bristol, and after catching a badass set at Yardcore I can understand why.

I moved to Bristol as I needed a change of scenery and also wanted to see more of my mates (who are all based in the south). The main incentive was how much I had enjoyed going out in Bristol when I had visited friends who live here. It was mainly breaks nights we went to, but I just remember going out on several occasions and just loved being surrounded by down to earth people, who were clearly into the music they were hearing, rather than just being there because it was ‘cool’.

What's in store for 2008?

I’m hoping to play out a lot more this year and finish off more studio based tunes. Other than that it’s hard to say, but I’d love to get a release for some ‘Phaeleh’ material.

BUG TOP 5 - Give us a top five...of anything.

Top 5 albums that have had a big influence on my music over the years (in no particular order)

Tool - Aenima
Prodigy - Experience
Plaid - Restproof Clockwork
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works
Waiwan - Distraction


Phaeleh - "Killer"

Phaeleh - "Doopastab"


Anonymous said...

Very interesting interview