Say hello to Phil Thompson aka Moonface, poised to host his very own show titled – “Futurized” on our FRISKY frequencies. His music career spans more than two decades, and with an enviable work body that includes a close association with Bedrock Records, not only as a warm up DJ and resident for the label nights back in his home town in Southampton, he has also released his own productions on the revered imprint such as – ‘Across the Gulf of Space’ on ‘Bedrock 18 – Signals’ a 3x CD album of exclusive tracks from some of its favourite artists. Phil’s first release was number four on Bedrock Records, the now classic ‘Futurized Fears’ – soon followed by a 6 track mini album ‘Between Worlds’ voted album of the month by several magazines at the time, after which came – ‘Layered Sounds’ mixed by both himself and John Digweed. He also has numerous releases on quality compilation CDs such as the ‘Balance Series 006’ on EQ Recordings and the legendary Global Underground and Nubreed series, as well as releases on Tulipa, Endemic and Wolf Trap.
But more on this later, we at FRISKY News are excited to uncover this treasure trove of talent, whose quiet façade in dance music is not just that, chip at the block and one gets to slowly peek in to his no holds barred musicality and old-school methods that pack a big punch in these contemporary times.
Hi Phil, thanks for taking time to chat with us at FRISKY. To get right to it, would you say your sounds have evolved or done a change since when you started out back in the day?
Hey Hello Hello FRISKY,
I like to morph my styles as I go and try to be flexible, check out as many DJ mixes as I can, that way I get heavily influenced by these mixes and often chase the artist down for a particular track in their mix. I am into many genres and try not to pigeon hole anything or follow trends, I am influenced by them if I like them, take what works for me, so sometimes I might be into more melodic stuff and go down that path for a bit, and sometimes I like really dark underground vibes that I understand not so many people are into. I have always been into splitting my style from stuff I love that I know most of my mates will love and will rock the dance floor, over to really deep dark underground tracks that will put people off unless they are in the right zone, the right dance floor, the right mood, the right setting.
How would you describe your style for new followers or people curious to know your music?
Quality comes first then energetic, Soulful, intelligent, forward thinking soundscapes, emotional, epic, massive, driving, aggressive, classic.
Can you rewind and give us a low down of the times you came to be known as a Bedrock staple. They must have been exciting times and finally how did your journey pan out with releases and gigs under the brand, talk us through some of your memories?
They were magical amazing times. I worked really hard behind the scenes working on my own style and sound for many years before it all kicked off, so for me it was the reward for lots of hard work. No one took any notice of me for a long time; I have always been used to that, until Bedrock became my platform to the world. I just knew I wanted to master the studio my own way and not pay for anyone to do it for me, but pay for my own equipment and learn my own way to get my own unique sound. It’s so different these days. It’s obviously the longer harder road I took, yet the only road if you are a true artist. So I got stuck in year after year working really hard and only going to select parties. I was making very experimental underground tracks at the time and no one was interested, not even my mates. Then the Bedrock winds blew my way and suddenly everyone was into my sound including most of the top DJs at the time. Suddenly I was in all the magazines having rave reviews and then flying all over the place to DJ at some of the most amazing places I have ever been. All before the internet took off.
Were you doing the round of clubs and parties when you were growing up and did any particular artist influence you with their sounds as such?
From around the age of 14, 1984 I was into Electro and Breakdance, which never left me. Then I got into underground House music around 88/89 when loads of really creative dance tracks crossed over into the charts and dance music and raves became a massive thing then moving into high street night clubs. I used to go to clubs on my own just to have a dance but back then you had to look smart and wear shoes and I hated that. Then around 93 I met Paul Sawyer (Krafted / Frisky) who lived not that far from I and we started learning to DJ together on his equipment in a garden shed in the middle of the countryside. We were going to London clubs loads and House of Windsor for some amazing weekly nights. For me it’s never ever stopped, just became a blur over the years now. Some of the early influences were Sasha, Colin Dale with his Abstract dance shows on Kiss FM, Billy Nasty, Jeff Mills, Kraftwerk, Soul to Soul, Prodigy, Daft Punk, Terry Francis, John Marsh the Beloved. Then as time went on I was more influenced by music from Warp Records and Cold Cut, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Chocolate Weasel, Eat Static, really, really advanced crazy music that I have always tried to emulate into my own dance tracks.
Would you say you are a DJ first or producer, do you enjoy one or the other more?
I love to DJ and I was born to do it and am very natural at it. My Grandmother had an amazing vinyl collection that was left in the living room when I was about 8 years old she passed to the other worlds. Her collection was very trendy and electronic with instrumentals and far out 60’s early 70’s experimental records. I used to go through them and put all my favorites to one side. Stack up a maximum of 6 records to auto play and sit and listen to them on the old style music center. Only when I started playing and learning to mix records around the age of 23 did I remember what I used to do when younger. I also used to cut up cassette tapes and try and join the beats together. Also using a tape to tape recorder I used to try and join tracks to together in ways to keep the music continuous. For me Djing came first.
Then as I schooled myself and thought it would be an awesome idea to invest in my own studio equipment so I could learn the trade and get ahead of the game by making all my own. This is common nowadays, but back in the early 90’s it was not common to have a computer let alone a bedroom studio set up. My initial investment would have been about the price of a decent car these days, about £5000 back then to get me up and running with Akai Sampler, rack synth and mixing desk. I had no idea what I was doing at all. Nowadays for start up’s daddy has a spare laptop you can always use and make tracks on any software with loops and presets all ready to play with. It’s a totally different world as far as technology goes. So for me I am lucky that I have years and years of dance floor experience plus I can make my own dance tracks in the comfort of my own home with no financial pressures. I love to play the right crowd even if it’s just a few friends at a house party, yet I also really love getting stuck into the music in the studio focused on trying to make an awesome original dance track.
Your – ‘Futurized Fears’ was soon followed by a 6 track mini album ‘Between Worlds’ voted album of the month by several magazines at the time. Then came ‘Layered Sounds’, mixed by John Digweed and you, you’ve also had numerous releases on quality compilation CDs such as the ‘Balance Series 006’ on EQ Recordings and the legendary Global Underground and Nubreed series, as well as releases on Tulipa, Endemic and Wolf Trap, do you think thereafter it’s been a quiet period in your life. Are we seeing a surge for the way you want your career to go in 2018?
Yes loads of awesome releases from old to new on respected labels some that are now classics. Very proud of my back catalogue and how the tracks have stood the test of time. Basically around 2005 the whole industry changed around me and what was very popular became unpopular overnight. The way I would DJ and the type of music became too hard, too fast, too banging. Everyone went soft and slow and too girlie for me, suddenly every DJ was playing 120 bpm nu-disco when I was used to playing 130 and not to forget driving stuff. The music changed around the world and new trends took off and then the internet took off supporting the new trends and then it seems to have stuck that way for a long time. I’ve always been off the radar loving the underground vibe, all about staying low-key and sticking to what you are about and not jumping on any trends. I am a purist, a true artist that often goes against the flow rather than with. Although it has not done me any favors, my path has been unique and amazing in so many ways. I just stick to what I love and only do what my heart feels and gravitates towards. Always working towards my dreams waiting for the winds to come back round my way to take my sails then I am more than ready for the next journey. This is in the hands of the universe, I can only work as hard as I can to follow my passion with the time I have. I’d like to have more DJ slots where my music fits in, along with getting more Moonface tracks out there after a string of recent remixes.
I read that you have other talents, that you are an illustrator and have prolific artwork background. Tell us what the process is and how you fashion this parallel career, is it something that happens organically side by side of the music?
Ha yes very organically. I am and really want to start pushing my art over the next few years. I now have a nice collection looking for homes just search for Phil My Art. When I was a kid I drew loads and loads and it was my main consistent passion. As I grew up and left home I stopped drawing, getting into many other interests, then about 10 years ago I started doodling again. It has become more serious and more deep and interesting for me to experiment with what was going on in my mind. All the visions I had then putting them down on paper and wondering how I did that. I will be getting some of them onto T-shirts and in coloring books. For me the art is a break on my ears when I have overdosed on music. It gives me an alternative way to be creative in a very peaceful tranquil way.
Do you think dance music is at a good place now, considering you’ve seen much of the evolution, anything that you would like to talk about that needs change or a shake up?
Dance music is more powerful than ever before and filling huge stadiums all over the planet. It’s grown from illegal UK raves to sell out festivals year after year growing in size. So many promoters just play safe, book safe, pay crazy money to have the same big names on the line up just to get people in. The fame the hype the fakeness, the jumping around, the dancing, the tits out, the silly costumes or masks or additional fashion items, that is now common within the music industry if not standard. The type of quality music I am into and the growing circle around me have a really difficult time finding any venue that will support our sound and let us take time building the night over a long period to earn a reputation. Sadly most commercial venues are all about numbers, discounted drinks and giveaways and I totally understand that, I am a business owner and understand these places have so much competition they just can’t take the risk on an underground night that will take a while to get going with no one coming for the first few nights if at all. All music styles come and go round and round, I just stick to what I love and if others like it I’m happy. There is so much music around these days it’s impossible to follow everyone as we all have limits, having said that, the biggest shake up that should happen is the producers need to get paid decently for what they create as we are the only ones making the music while everyone else enjoys it.
What’s your ideal DJ setup?
As basic as possible I just need my Vinyl Records, Technics and an Allen & Heath quality mixer. A dark room and an amazing sound system with cool crowd or just mates in a house party, a low light I can use to see what I’m doing no fancy mega screens in front or behind. No DJ names up on the screen for my whole set, no cameras, no phones, about 200 people and a booth down on the dance floor or as close to the people as can be. Then a 5 hours set or more.
Favourite labels currently?
Radiate, Wolf Trap, Gibbon.
From being featured on our Artist of the Week mix to hosting your own show coming up on our site called – “Futurized”, is there a particular vibe or soundscape you will fashion towards each mix?
Yes I have a style that I want to follow with the Frisky mixes. It will always be a journey from Deep House to banging full of energy sounds. I’m never so fussed about the tracks being brand new or all promos it’s about the emotions and the journey. I would like to present my sound to the world on the Frisky platform, reaching many ears is so exciting these days as it’s a whole new game to DJ from somewhere and the internet world tunes in. I also have another monthly show called “Autorized” where I play vinyl only streaming live, online that’s a real buzz, offering my other darker side which delves into my record collection. The vinyl is my really underground sound for the hardcore underground enthusiasts we have out there in thinning numbers. I will keep it true and have a dark deep sound and Frisky will be my dance floor with uplifting full of energy rocking styles often using promos I have been sent.
Are you working on any productions currently, if yes could you share any news in this regard?
Yes just finished a remix for Blue Amazon. Also another remix about to go out on promo for Mirabilis by an artist called JawJee titled – Lethal Love. I’ve just agreed to a new track called Youths ShootiN to go on Chris Cargo’s new label called – If You Wait, and he will be doing a remix of that.
Lastly, any plans you are excited about for the rest of the year?
Yes always excited any time I am in the studio or find a new DJ mix, or an awesome magical track to use in a set somewhere. Soon I will have more time for studio productions and bookings, along with getting my artwork out there on a number of formats. DJ bookings are also welcome.