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Interview: Philip George

11 February 15 interview: Bridie Squires

A short time ago, Philip Woodhead was making beats in his bedroom and working at Next, when attention for his tune Wish You Were Mine started gaining momentum on several streaming platforms. After signing to 3 Beat, the track reached number two in the charts and has picked up international acclaim. We checked in with him on the blower…

How did you first get into music?
I’ve always had a passion for making music – it’ll never leave me. I’ve been playing the piano for twelve years, and I play the drums and other instruments every now and again too. I haven’t touched a piano in years because electronic music production took over since college, when I was dabbling with Fruity Loops - I still use it now. I was using all kinds of software, but that was the easiest thing to get hold of and I got good at it. Five years down the line, it’s all happened.

How are you feeling at the minute?
You’ve gotta take it in your stride. To anyone who’s out there wanting to be a producer, I can tell you that when this happens, it’s amazing, the best feeling, but it is massively overwhelming – especially the way it happened to me. It’s so daunting. There’s a lot on your plate. But it’s all good, when you start feeling comfortable in this world, it’s absolutely amazing. Literally living the dream.

What were you on with before it all kicked off? Were you at uni?
I studied music tech at De Montfort University - it was alright, but it just wasn’t what I wanted to learn. I got halfway through the second year and dropped out. They try and get so much academic stuff in when a lot of it is completely practical. I could do it myself. I needed to get a job and dedicate as much time as possible to my actual music. It was a bit of a gamble, I don’t know if I was being naïve or just passionate. I’ve been very fortunate and I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who need uni, so I wouldn’t tell anyone to give up - it’s just about pushing on and doing it yourself.

When was the first time you heard your tune on the radio?
Someone told me Greg James on Radio 1 had played it, so I heard it on catch up. I’ve heard it that many times on the radio now, it’s just incredible. It’s even at number sixteen in the Australian charts. That’s absolutely mental, isn’t it? Loads of weird things are happening. Last summer, people were telling me they were hearing it in Ibiza, I was like, “It’s not even out!”

There’s a video of a young lad on YouTube emceeing over your tune…
I’m not massively into grime or rapping - it’s not my thing. A lot of people have been saying that it’s big just because of him, but it had already racked up about 40,000 views before they uploaded that video, I was signed to 3 Beat, and I’d been approached by the Ministry of Sound and Warner Brothers. I respect what he’s doing, but it’s irritating when people say he made the track, because it was already growing organically - it could happen to anyone who’s got a song with a lot of views. I’m not faulting it, I’m sure it helped, but it was already getting big.

What do you reckon to the shift in the electronic music scene from dubstep and drum and bass to house?
Dubstep was the first thing I produced - I moved to drum and bass for years, but there’s no money or direction in it. Everyone wants to be able to make a living and, even if you’re making the best drum and bass in the world, it’s going to be a struggle. I lost interest because everything just started sounding the same and it became a bit regressive for me. I still love all the old songs, but there’s nothing special about a lot of new stuff, apart from people like Sigma.

House music took over, for me. I went to a few raves and they just blew me away, even more so than when I went to Detonate or Basslaced back in the day. It was so much fun. In Ibiza, Warehouse Project and a few more, I couldn’t believe how different the vibe was – there was no aggression at all. Everybody was just loving each other, there was room to dance, a better vibe for me.

Sounds like you need to get yersen to Berlin duck…
It’s all going off over there, int it? They’ve got Watergate - I’d love to play there, it looks absolutely unreal. Obviously I make all my mainstream stuff, but I also make a lot of dark stuff. My sets are actually really techy which surprises a lot of people – they’re not too Duke Dumont-ish, it’s quite cool seeing people get excited about the techy stuff.

You’ve been playing some cool places…
Yeah, I’m playing with Danny Howard at the weekend, and I’m at Sankey’s in Manchester which is one of my favourite clubs in the country. I played my first set at Stealth the other week - I couldn’t believe how busy it was. It was only Stealth VS Rescued, but the tickets sold out and it was one in, one out for the room I was playing. The fact that they’d all come to see me was crazy. The crowd was so good, dedicated from the start. Amazing man, proper sick.

Do you use CDJs or vinyl?
I can and do use both, but normally just CDJs and USBs – I’m easy. It’s been a while since I bought a physical record, I’ve always been into digital because I’m of that age. Even if I was playing on vinyl, I’d use Serato - I started DJing when it first came about, and it was so easy to plug your computer into your deck or CDJ. When I’ve got some more money, I’ll start collecting vinyl.

Do you think the trends in digital sales and subscription services are a good or bad for the artist?
I don’t know, there are different ways of looking at it, and pros and cons on both sides. I’m just happy with what’s in front of me. I think people can debate a bit too much about it – it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ruining anything. If something’s getting you loads of views, you should appreciate that.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I wanna cover different aspects of house and build an album out of it, it’ll be quite varied – hopefully it’s gonna be good. If Wish You Were Mine is the only hit, it’s the only hit. We’ll just see what happens. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it again but, if not, I’m happy just being a DJ.

Anything else you’d like to say to LeftLion readers?
Thank you to everybody. I just found out today that Nottingham’s the biggest supporting city in the country, so a massive shout out to everybody who’s been championing the track and anyone who came to see me at Stealth - it’s been absolutely crazy.

Philip George will be playing No Tomorrow Festival later on in the year.

Philip George on Soundcloud

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