We caught up with artist Pete Philly to talk about new music, festivals, fashion and much more.
How did you first get into music?
I walked up to the opening act of this band, I really liked em, they asked me to rhyme so I free-styled. Then they asked my info and a couple months later I was in another band that toured extensively. It was great learning school.
When was the pinnacle moment you knew you could make a career in music?
When the debut LP came out and all these excited reviews kept coming in from magazines/platforms from different countries, that was the first indication. When the shows began selling out which, at that point was based for the biggest part, on live reputation, I felt like yes, this is moving as I’d envisioned it. I could really feel this mattering as much to the audience as it does to me, so that’s really deep to me.
Where and when was your first ever DJ set?
Well I would’ve been the host then, but I was organising broken beat, hip hop, nu jazz parties and hosting em as I was recording the Mindstate LP.
Name the three main artists you had on your playlist growing up?
Michael Jackson, Queen, The Roots
Do you have any new music out at the moment you can tell us about?
I’ve released 3 new songs this year, shaking my feathers a bit as I’m finishing work on my upcoming album. Favorite Song was a wonderful coming home of sorts, so I’m very happy about that, shout out to Jamz Supernova who premiered it on her 1Xtra show. My latest track is ‘Dear’ which came out last month and I’m about to release my next tune in September. I’ll be performing at some great festivals too and after that it’s the European tour. London check your tickets for the Pete Philly gig at the Lexington October 18th!
What has been your career highlight to date?
The highlight is today – I get to do this with a sharper spirit than ever before. This is the highlight to me. Most of my highlights are google-able. I don’t get too hung up on them because, I still have to be able to rock a crowd NOW, not yesterday. And that’s all I care about, rocking the crowd now.
If you could collaborate with someone past or present, who would it be?
Chaplin & MJ. Both openhearted, childlike, completely singular whist remaining open and multifaceted. I love that.
Who’s your favourite artist to watch live?
D’Angelo on one end & Bruno Mars on the other.
Favourite song out at the moment?
It’s been out for a minute, but I love Ocean Wisdom’s song with Dizzee Rascal, Revvin’ It’s rougher than the stuff I put out, but damnit if that’s not my tune.
Who should we have on our radar for this summer?
Naaz, she’s doing lovely things.
Festival season is here, what’s your favourite thing about playing festivals?
Captivating an audience that doesn’t know me yet is my favourite, no doubt. But I also like rocking a crowd that knows all the songs. Constantly building in different spaces and countries gives me both of those experiences, which keeps me in a good place as a performer I think.
Which has been your favourite festival moment?
I remember playing Cape Town Jazz, the free entrance gig we did the day before on Green Square Market was one of my all time favourite gigs, the day after we did the show on the festival and right after the acapella intro to this real emotional/political song. I’d always take a beat before, on my word, going back into it on the one. During this gig, a butterfly flew and landed on my shoulder and stayed with me while I took that beat, the whole crowd saw it – we waited with the butterfly and when he flew a way we kicked the beat back in and things erupted. That little moment of quiet and connection with nature, if only for a few seconds, whist diving back into amplified cello’s and beats… yeah that was dope.
What separates UK festivals to those around the world?
I’ve yet to do a proper festival run in the UK. So what separated the UK festivals from the rest of the world is the fact that they haven’t booked me yet ☺
What’s your festival outfit?
That’s different every time, I’ve made myself more of a canvas this time around.
How do you spend your down time away from music?
What is down time? Haha it’s with my love & kindred spirits, though music & creation runs through most of my relationships, so there’s a lot of philosophy & dreaming out loud going on in my cypher. I guess you could say travelling physically, mentally.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be…
I was studying at the Art Academy in Rotterdam when I realised that, even though all that I’m able to communicate might come from a single purpose, I need to express it in different ways. I’m a writer performing his own material, the form/genre can vary but it’s always going to be about open mirroring for me. Being of service in the moment, I can do that within a wide range of forms and a wide range of audiences. I think I love art and entertainment so much exactly because it’s multi-faceted. My purpose is to serve the moment and reflecting people their own beauty back to them, that’s my shit.
Who’s your dream girl?
Favourite place to vacation?
Hmm.. either Italy or Aruba, the place that birthed and, for a big part, made me.
Drink of choice on a night out?
One or two gin & tonic tops and water is what I’ll work with on a night out ☺
Favourite film or TV series?
That’s too tough, there’s too many. So let me stick with current; Rick & Morty, The Good Fight, I think Dietland is very interesting and Queen of the South is my soap ☺
Describe your fashion/style?
Ice cream with crunch.
Who would you consider a style influencer for you?
Hmm, that’s.. I don’t know. I’m still figuring myself out which is more introspective than anything else. But I like people who are playful and free with it, not necessarily trying to do or outdo what’s already there, but creating from their own point of view.
Finally, words of wisdom for those wanting to make it in music…
Having this kind of connection with people resonating with your music is an amazing gig. It’s an amazing privilege so I feel like you should never forget and honour that. Always keep honesty in the room when making the music, keep the songs that make you feel like a kid and skip the rest, regardless of what others say or think. And the most important one for last: Establish your contract with yourself before signing a contract with anybody else.
Check out Pete’s latest track here and you can get tickets for his upcoming London show here.