The stunning sounds of German DJ/producer Phace have been echoing across the Drum & Bass scene for just about 10 years. Described as a digital rebellion, he now manages his own record label Neosignal Recordings, and his music has graced the biggest labels in the scene like Shogun Audio, Renegade Hardware, Subtitles Music, Virus Recordings, Vision, and Lifted. Since his debut album Psycho dropped in 2007, he has been supported by international top acts such as Andy C, Pendulum, Noisia, Sub Focus, Chase & Status and Spor, proving he's a highly sought after talent in the studio. The music of Phace is futuristic, cinematic and frantic, evoking associations to metallic rains and strongly down pitched flipper games. Or in his own words: “I produce weird electronic music and random loud noises. I can’t figure out why but I love it."
We jumped at the chance to learn more about this burgeoning producer, as he's making waves with a new release on Neosignal Recordings in the near future and has plenty more to look forward to.
Hello there Phace, and big ups to your new single (So Excited/Lit Up) coming out soon! Besides being a DJ and producer, you founded Neosignal Recordings with Misanthrop in 2008. What was your motivation behind creating the own label?
Hello and thank you very much! We started the label so we could follow our musical vision without having to compromise, and to have more control over the music we released, either our own music or music from other artists who we like. I enjoy working more independently. I feel that being liberal and unrestricted when it comes to decision-making leads to a more organic process and more authentic art.
I find your music to be intellectual and decadent at the same time. What inspires your art?
I love art that one cannot put into a specific box, no matter if it's painting, architecture, literature, photography or music. There is a source of inspiration in pretty much everything in life if you hold your breath for a second and pay attention to the detail. I do like it when things cross borders and get freaky but I don't like it when things get all too arty, left-field and overthought. The best ideas are usually simple, timeless and clever, which come out the smoothest during the creative process. You cannot force creativity, but you can work on it.
I am also a fan of good stories. I love it when art tells you a story you can relate to, can have a laugh about or gets you started on thinking about a specific topic. I like art that transports something human or a message, and isn't just excessively abstract or clinically trying to strive for technological perfection. Technological progress is, of course, important and in my view a very invigorating thing, but technological perfection in art is not a state one can reach. It's a never-ending path with many directions and the more detours you take, the more fun it will turn out to be.
Drum & Bass is a genre broader than the Autobahn. With all of its niches, you are one of the key figures in the second-wave of Neurofunk. Where do you see that road going?
The diversity in there is awesome and I do think Drum & Bass also moves faster than the Autobahn! Especially in terms of how quick the styles change. Being "united" you are always stronger. I haven't really met any other producer or DJ in the Drum & Bass circus that it was hard to have a good time with. The amount of cool, humble and genuine people are numerous, which makes it an absolutely amazing sphere to work in.
Also, Drum & Bass has always been something of an underground genre. As an artist, a possessor of its crayons with the power to redraw the picture of it, how do you see the current trends in the genre? Are fans attracted more towards heavy stuff or liquid?
Trends come and go. They vanish when they are exploited. I generally have nothing against trends at all. To me, they are a very natural thing and can be a very entertaining source of inspiration. From an artist’s perspective, though, it's more important to progress within my own creations. When I wake up in the morning I don't think about how to follow the latest trend or about the next possible trend, but instead I think about how I can try to do what I do a little better and learn a little something new that day. In the electronic music circle, you will inevitably stumble over the latest trend anyways. And in regards to the fans, which in my opinion are among the most loyal fans in electronic music, I do hope that true fans always will appreciate cool music over media hype.
Do you think Drum & Bass will reach the same mainstream status as dubstep did a couple of years ago?
I don't personally think so as the tempo of the music is a little too fast and it already has been around for more than two decades. Personally, I don't really mind if it goes mainstream or not. I never did. I do love Drum & Bass, and to me it will always be one of the state of the art electronic music genres, especially when the scene continues to build itself both on amazingly loyal and cool fans and hardworking and passionate artists and music industry networks.
More and more producers gravitate towards starting their own record labels. Is there any sense of competition or are you more like party buddies having fun together between (and during) sets?
The key to real success is shared success. Competition is a very tiring thing and in most cases when talking about art, it's useless. Especially because the Drum & Bass scene is way too small to spend any energy on useless fights.
And what about the art of DJing - there has been some turbulence in recent years due to the "Paris Hilton-ization" of DJing with fake DJs. Is Drum & Bass a genre free from this kind of cheating? With all the technology at hand, are mixing skills in the booth heading towards a lost art or rather a rising trend?
I find all the new DJ technology really interesting and I am absolutely fine with moving along with its development. Mixing or beat-matching has never been 'magic'. How good you were at it just depended on how much you practiced your skills and how well you got to know the music. Nowadays everything seems to be easier as you have machines helping you not to care too much about such rather "basic" things such as beat-matching anymore. But still, only knowing how to use the technological advantages of these machines doesn't make you a good DJ. Technology luckily doesn't choose the musical content, build up and style of your presentation... That's still up to you and as important as having the technical skills to perform. A not so strong track can sound really shit in a poorly put together set, but it could sound absolutely strong if positioned right. Also, I think one needs to see all the positive things about such technological inventions. All these machines create capacities you can now use to come up with new exciting things that you couldn't do before, and now you can implement this into your live presentation and have it benefit from that.
What can we look forward to from you and Neosignal in the near future?
With regards to Phace I am working on a new EP probably for the second half of the year and in regards to the label, we also have a fun EP concept coming up on Neodigital Recordings during the summer. Not to miss a beat, it's best is to follow phace.space or neosignal.de :D
Listen to Phace's forthcoming release, So Excited/Lit Up, below!