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Phoebe Kiddo’s Albums Are Travel Diaries

Listen to an exclusive premiere of her track "Taken" right here.
April 24, 2014, 6:41am
Picture by Dan Wilton

Not many artists can say their music is as inspired by esoteric poetry as it is by 3AM warehouse parties. With her debut album Artefacts of Broken Dreams, Melbourne native, Red Bull Music Academy graduate, and now globetrotting sound artist Phoebe Kiddo proves she can make that claim. Back home in Australia for a few months to work on new music, she found some time to chat to us about her adventures. She also gave us a sneaky listen to "Taken", a track from her forthcoming EP which we're premiering exlusively here on Thump.

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THUMP: You were a painter and artist before you began producing, why the change?
Phoebe Kiddo: Confidence I think. I was always was brought up around music, but when I was old enough to control it, I became the selector of the house. It's always been the thing I have been interested in and knew about. About the same time I became fascinated by visual art too, and they've just been alongside each other ever since. I'd taken five months out of art to travel and see the world and figure out what wanted to do—I'd always thought I'd end up studying fine art—even though I'd give so much time and energy to music. During that time I started to deepen my interest in sounds abstracted from music forms, but as art. I'd never committed to learning an instrument, like piano or something, but putting into that context meant I could also be a creator and make meaningful work.

You lived here in Melbourne when the electronic scene was bubbling up, did the live shows here have much of an impact on your music?
I spent from seventeen till god knows when going to shows, gigs and raves. Melbourne was such an amazing place when I was in my teens: warehouse gigs with ten thousands of people, clubs like Teriyaki Anarki Saki were super influential to me. Having been brought up on folk and psychedelic rock, finding electronic music was so exciting. It seemed so much more experimental, I remember being amazed by it before learning to do it myself. I was introduced to people around that time with friends who will be friends and collaborators for life, and I went to less shows but participated more by playing myself. I became really interested by sound installations and I guess technology based art platforms. It's interesting coming back now with so many more shows and artists happening here at the moment.

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A lot of artists still look overseas for opportunities, was that part of the reason you travelled?
I definitely wanted to broaden my horizons. I wanted to go to the places where I'd been inspired,  going to Detroit after falling in love with Detroit Techno. Growing up in Australia you're so isolated from the participating Western World, so while I think it's easy to glorify those places, become fixated on the American or UK scene, having been to some of those places you get the feel for those environments that created those art forms.

Australia has its own vibe, environment, and own people and they are the way they are because of their history. I think it's easy when you're isolated to create really interesting things and throw offs. For me it was really important to go and be a part of it, not just be on the outside looking in and see what I could contribute and soak in as much as I could.

There's this funny line in your biography about sneaking into studios – was it difficult to be able to work while you're travelling?
It was difficult, but it was also really cool, I got to work in a lot of generous friends studios. It's has it's charm though: like other people having these synthesisers that I could never afford and the difficulties of having time restraints meant I was forced to finish things. It was cool, but essentially I have a small kit of stuff that I really love and know really well so as cool as it was using all this different equipment I have a setup that works for me. It can be a bit of a time waster. Though when mixing the album I was using a friend's studio in Berlin and I blew up his speakers—I mean I don't mix loudly, but after that I resolved I would just use my own equipment.

I love how varied Artefacts of Broken Dreams is, there's one track on there called "Chasing Dreams" was that the theme you were exploring?
The album really is a travel memoir. There are synths on there from all sorts of different studios. Tracks were written in San Fran, all around Europe, Madrid, Berlin and I think the variation is one of it's strengths—but also one of it's flaws—it's not so focused. It became important for it to become a story. I made sure to include things from each place and each period of time.

The Tripping on the Wake of Goodbyes EP was released just before the album, was that centred on leaving Australia?
Yes, that was the free one—although there are a lot of tracks on it, but I have so much music I haven't done anything with just yet. It was really easy for us to go through and be like: let's just give something to people. So Brian Allen Simon (Anenon) helped me choose from a huge back catalogue by lending his ears and expertise.

Have you got plans for another release any time soon?
I'm actually at my parents as we speak and I've taken some time out from Berlin to record. I actually just got back from Shanghai recording with Cha Cha, she's on one of the tracks from Tripping on the Wake of Goodbyes, we've recorded a few tracks too that will be coming out on cassette this year. And my live set is entirely as usual all new music. There will definitely be records from me very soon.

Phoebe Kiddo is supporting Mr. Carmack in Melbourne stay tuned to her Facebook for any updates on secret gigs coming up.