Philip George Interview
The 'Wish You Were Mine' hitmaker talks meeting Stevie Wonder and partying in Kazakhstan
Racking up almost one hundred million views for his Stevie Wonder sampling 2014 debut release 'Wish You Were Mine', UK producer Philip George has already reached a level of popularity most people spend their entire career trying to achieve, bagging himself a Kiss FM show into the bargain. Following his debut up with 'Alone No More' and 'Feel This Way' in 2015 and 2016 respectively, this year has been quiet on the production front... so far.
Joining Mark Fanciulli and Leonardo Gonnelli at Egg Presents this Friday 9th, we spoke to George about his forthcoming releases, dealing with expectation and partying in Kazakhstan.
'Wish You Were Mine' currently has 91,688,930 views Can you tell us the story of the track, from where and when you made it to how it got signed and grew into such a huge success?
It's been a while since I looked at the stats of the track and I couldn't believe the numbers when I did. It came out over two years ago but I had originally made the track back in 2013, which is a crazy thought. How time flies! I had been producing drum and bass since 2009, which is when I first started. Then in 2013 I went to Ibiza, and it kind of changed it all for me. I’d always loved house music, but in ibiza on that trip it really hit home for me. I heard lots of inspiring music and organ basslines seemed to be everywhere at the time. That’s really how the sound of 'Wish You Were Mine' came about. I didn't even expect it to go viral on the internet. It picked up a few hundred views over one year, then all of sudden it started to multiply every few days, it was insane. By the time it had reached 100,000 views, labels started to approach me.
What was your production background previously?
I started back in 2009 with dubstep, I think for about a month (as did everyone at the time, haha), but then moved onto drum and bass which became my main priority. I was making really emotional liquid which doesn't sound too cool, but in my defence I was 16 at the time. I hadn't even been to a club yet. I picked up a copy of Fruity Loops and use Fruity Loops to this day, still the original copy I purchased. Fruity Loops 9 looks a bit out dated, but it's just worked for me. Everything is really easy access and easy to engineer. I use Ableton too, but I always start my projects in Fruity Loops.
You sampled Stevie Wonder's 'My Cherie Amour'. Did that track already mean something special to you? Have you met Stevie to find out what his take on it is?
To be honest there was no real motive behind it. I just stumbled across the acapella one day. I’m always on the look out for samples that haven’t been rinsed before and this one stood out to me. That’s the beauty of dance music, sometimes good ideas just present themselves out of the blue, and of course Stevie’s melodies are incredible. I did actually meet Stevie Wonder two years ago! It was a weird but amazing experience. He invited me to his tribute night in LA, and then after the show I had a meet and greet! He did actually say he loved the track, which still hasn't really sunk in now. It's weird coming from such a superstar as I still feel very normal.
What kind of pressure did you feel under to repeat having such a successful track? We once spoke to Dennis Ferrer after he'd released 'Hey Hey' and he said the best thing to do after a track like that is wait for a bit.
Even though the whole experience has been amazing, it literally changed my life, the pressure I put on myself around the direction of 'Philip George’ can be tough. Playing gigs where the crowd expect big hits and chart songs can be challenging. I love house music in all it’s forms and I love to take crowds on a journey, but because people know me mainly from my hits they often expect a set stuffed full of that kind of music. People don't really know what I'm about yet. So as Dennis said, I've literally sort of fallen off the radar a bit on purpose, and I’ve been writing lots of new music which will give people more of an impression of the deeper, more cerebral side to Philip George.
Does your DJ background precede producing or has it come since?
Producing came first, then the DJing. I actually started out on vinyl with drum and bass, and my god, I can't tell you how much skill it took to nail a good mix. I don't think many people appreciate how skilful drum and bass DJs are. So I feel it gave me a really good grounding to learn my craft. Moving to house music was like getting stabilisers on a bike.
New music. When are your fans going to get some more?
I'm currently finishing off a brand new original from me, which is much different style to the old sound. I'm also working on a few remixes as well, one of which is probably my best work. When the time is right, I guarantee a consistent flow of releases, It's just finding the right direction. I've just moved to hardware instead of soft synths, so my musical sound is going to completely change as you can imagine…
You release some funny footage of life on the road. What have been the stand out moments of 2017, musically and otherwise?
I actually haven't gigged that much this year, which has been really nice as its been non-stop for the last two years. I was lucky enough to play Space Ibiza before it closed to make way for Hï! Also Reading Festival last year was pretty amazing. The tent was empty when I started and by the end of the first track it was packed and jumping. I got to play a really varied set there, which was really rewarding. A massive highlight this year so far was to be able to move out of my old bedroom, (which was my studio) into my new studio space. I'm really proud of it, and it's given me a chance to really start finding myself musically!
How was your recent trip Kazakhstan? We're assuming it's not the backward country painted by Borat.
Haha love that, I didn't see any donkeys pulling carts if that's what people think. Honestly, that film has given the place a really bad name, the country has so much potential from what I have seen. The place was really nice, the views were amazing, the people were amazing and the venue was amazing. Outside, no sound restrictions and the crowd just went crazy. I'm guessing they just want to embrace the musical dance culture!
Name three tracks that sum up what you're likely to play at Egg.
Tim Green – 'For a Memory'
Mirco Caruso – 'Together'
Yotto – 'Wilderness Girl '
Tell us something interesting about yourself that isn't currently public knowledge…
I'm literally the biggest geek. It's no surprise really as I'm a producer, and most of us are, but I'm talking history and famous battles. I also have a soft spot for really old films, like Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, even the other end of the spectrum of films, like The Sting…
What else is coming up that's exciting you (other than the general election)?
Yeah, absolutely buzzing about the general election... hahaha, I'm going to Kappa FuturFestival in July, I actually can't wait for it. Also I can't wait to get back in Ibiza as well. And, of course, my next single is coming really soon.