Welcome to DMCWORLD towers. You are on the crest of a wave at the moment after a stupendous 2011 smashing all sorts of records with Beatport No. 1’s. What was your highlight of last year?
“Thanks for having me DMC World! Last year came at such a blur it’s really hard to choose a single highlight. For me the music is most important thing, so having releases on some of the most respected labels would probably be the top!”
You once said you thought music was addictive and that it speaks to everyone at some level that changes depending on where you are in your life. Can you remember the moment when music spoke to you and you knew you were going to be an artist?
“When I was younger my parents forced me into piano lessons. At the time I totally hated it and the way my friends teased me about it. But as time grew on I was taking lessons at a more progressive teacher who had implemented a midi / computer setup. After a while I stopped learning how to play and just fell in love with the machines and programming. She then hired me to run the lab and I started with my first tracks and at that moment hoped somehow I can make this into something more.”
Technology has made production available to anyone, anywhere at any age? When did you start dabbling with the buttons?
“Well I don’t want to date myself, so let’s just say when there were buttons to dabble with I was dabbling…LOL.”
Funk and disco are always lurking beneath your music, we love that as that sound always puts a smile on your face. What are some of the big funk and disco anthems that always gets your feet tapping…
“As far as funk and disco I try and stay away from the anthems. They are usually the overproduced poppy stuff from the era, much like you might hear today for electronic music. But the output of the disco and funk era was endless, and there are hundreds of bands which know how to drop the funk!”
There seems to be no rules in the creation of your music. What other producers from around the world have you maybe taken a leaf out their books in your style?
“Electronic music lends itself towards recreation, sampling, and referencing of other tracks. I don’t like to pigeon hole it too much but instead incorporate a broad range of production styles. I think every producer is influenced by what sounds are hot at the moment so if it works, it works!”
What is coming next from your phenomenal label Neptuun City? What has been your favourite release to date?
“Thank you! I’ve been releasing on a lot of different labels to try and diversify the PHNTM name, but I plan on releasing 90% of my tracks on the label from now on. So expect a lot more PHNTM tracks as well as the other top tier artists we love to work with. Our goal is to constantly and consistently drop great Tech-Funk DJ tracks for our audience. My favorite releases so far have been the “World Expo” series. 30 devastating floor destroying tracks!”
I love your quote concerning the amount of tracks you all have to deal with in today’s technical terrordome world…”we used to think “digging through the crates” was tough, but now it’s a virtual “shovelling through an everest of questionable gigabytes”. So how many tunes do actually listen to a week?
“I’ve tried to get an organised system of listening to all promos and label demos on Wednesdays. It usually takes half the day and I’m not really sure how my tunes it really is. Unfortunately it takes up most the time so going and hunting for tunes is something I can rarely do anymore.”
Beatport famously nominated you as one to watch in 2012 – a pretty big thumbs up…?
“Huge! I was absolutely honoured by the nomination. Thank you Beatport! Now I just need to keep delivering the big tracks so they don’t take it back! LOL.”
So let’s talk about the ghoulish mask appearance. What’s the story…
“I was sick of dealing with all the ego that is in this industry. I decided to create a concept where there can exist no ego. A ghost. The only thing that does exists is the music and when PHNTM performs you will only find him on stage and nowhere else. There is no man behind the mask; only a visual concept and music that you either like, or not.”
There are a lot of kids off their tits in the crowd out there in front you, have you ever caused anyone to have a panic attack? How many masks do you own?
“Well I’ve started to see it’s more of the other way around. When I’m playing, more and more masks are showing up in the crowd. When I did the tour in Japan, it was a masquerade tour and they handed out free masks to everyone in the crowd. So the PHNTM shows are slowly becoming more of an experience. As far as masks that I own, quite a few. I’m always picking up new ones and experimenting with the look. Our goal is to one day launch different outfits for key events, including a full gold PHNTM set, which is almost complete!”
There was a debate in this very magazine a few weeks ago from a reader who suggested that DJs such as yourself, deadmau5 and even people like Steve Aoki for having custard pie fights with his audience are taking things a bit too far and losing sight of the most important thing – the music. Thoughts on that…
“I would argue that GQ photo shoots with headphones is probably hurting the scene more than well thought out conceptual figures. Any successful business has an excellent brand. If you can recognize Deadmau5 for the mouse head or PHNTM from the white mask and top hat instantly, then the concept is doing it’s job and helps the artist to stand above the rest of the DJs and their glamour shots. PHNTM is completely different than Deadmau5, as he walks on stage showing his real face, and everyone knows that he’s Joel Zimmerman. PHNTM is completely anonymous and seeks no attention outside of the PHNTM concept. In this regard the PHNTM mystique will always be bigger than the actual man, men, women, or aliens making the songs. This keeps the attention on the music, from which we’ve never lost focus. “
What is coming next studio wise from yourself?
“I just had a collaboration drop with Phunk Investigation that’s a real techno banger for the floor. I have two remixes coming up on my label Neptuun City, and original on Phunk Investigation’s Miniatures, as well as a two track EP on Hotfingers all set do drop very soon. Also in the studio with Dani’el finishing up our big summer commercial track which I’m very excited about.”
What is the best club you have ever played at?
“They’re essentially all the same! The one with the best monitors and biggest Jager bottle backstage…LOL.”
What is the best thing your parents taught you?
And finally, what has been the best day of your life…