Earlier this year Birmingham songwriter Phil Madeley dropped his single 21st Century Witch Hunt to plenty of critical acclaim. This Friday, he shares the hotly anticipated debut EP of the same name via the ever growing Nice Swan Records.
"The EP questions the current state of play. It's about alienation, division, redemption, and largely myself. It's questioning the soul of our actions. I’m a bit obsessed with finding meaning in everything. At times this is a flaw, but it has its moment in the sun when it comes to songwriting. We recorded it within a day earlier this year at RAK Studios, which suits the sound of it. It ended up being an outpour of my experiences over the past year and feels like a great base to introduce myself as a songwriter.”
Ahead of the release, Phil chatted to us about working with an independent label, Birmingham hotspots and learning not to compare himself to others.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you began your career as a musician?
I’ve played guitar off an on from my early teens, but only started writing songs when I was at college. I moved down to London a few years ago and played A LOT of open mics and acoustic gigs; the whole ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ thing. I’d always known however that the songs I was writing were better suited to a band. So after a few alterations and altercations, I eventually began playing live with my current band last year. And the rest, as they say…
You’re about to drop your debut EP, what can you tell us about it?
We recorded the four tracks at RAK studios in London earlier this year. We recorded it in the same room that The Stone Roses recorded Fools Gold plus a lot of the Last Shadow Puppets stuff as well. We did it in two days because we’d rehearsed it to death beforehand. Most of it was recorded live which really suits the songs I think.
Is there a particular track from the EP which really stands out for you?
I’m really excited about ‘Lay Across’. It’s got such a great energy and it was so fun to record. It’s got a real Stones/Primal Scream Memphis sound to it and the production ended up sounding massive. I think people will dig it because it’s a real builder. It’s the real climax of the EP.
You’re releasing the EP with Nice Swan Records who are working with some really exciting artists, how is it working with an independent label?
It’s been great so far! It’s amazing to be able to get support from a label which really loves indie music. Playing and meeting the other bands on the label has also been cool, lovely people and great musicians.
And you’re from Birmingham too, which has a great music scene - how have you found being a part of it?
Being part of the Birmingham scene is good fun. We have a lot of friends in bands so its cool to hang out at their gigs or have them come to ours. Theres always good gigs on and all the bands support each other which is really healthy and beneficial for everyone involved.
Any favourite local venues we should be visiting when normality returns?
I hold The Sunflower Lounge close to my heart. I’ve seen some great gigs there and it was the first place I played live with my band. It’s a special place with lots of character and a staple for all up and coming artists.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m listening to Laura Marling’s new album a lot at the moment. I think it’s amazing. Willie J Healy’s new album is also great! As well as that i’m delving into a lot of Hank Williams and Willie Nelson, getting my Country fix. Something about being confined indoors for so long is drawing me to the open West of sprawling landscapes and great unknowns.
Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself in your time as a musician?
I’ve learnt not to compare myself to others so much. I think I’m most inspired when I’m totally focused on my own sound and voice. Of course drawing on influence is very important and useful, but I feel that harnessing qualities of introversion can be really good for writing something thats original and true to myself.
What’s the plan for 2021? Anything in particular to look forward to?
The plan is to go viral with meme based content. All the top label execs will tell you, if you're not ‘meemed', you ain’t being seen. So, yeah. I’m going on tour in February also which should be great fun. I’m excited to resume a degree of normality when it comes to playing live around the country. Some festivals would be great too. And of course, more music.