FAGIN'S REJECT (UK)
“More third-nipple than third-eye.”
...Cut To The Chase is continuing its series with UK music rebel Fagin’s Reject, also known as Phil Getty in his personal life. Phil is a friend of mine who, in my opinion, is an incredible Psytrance producer, part-time philosopher, rocker at heart and just overall incredible human being at the same time. He is a member of the music label Wildthings Records and I will claim right here that he is even an absolutely integral part of it.
Having met on a train ride to a squat party in London at first, I observe Phil’s story since around 2011 or 2012 and I loved to see how somebody, who I appreciate as much as him, went on to becoming a well known artist in electronic psychedelic music.
Phil (btw, also his sweetheart of a girl Nadja) and I share a taste in music and an overall similar perspective on our world and its quirks. They've helped myself grow as a person and I know from first hand conversations that the project Fagin’s Reject is a source of inspiration for upcoming as well as established artists, at least in Psytrance.
Let’s get stuck in...
1. Phil, I have asked this question before but I have to ask you this one too: How are you so down to earth? What is the secret? :)
Hi Robert! Well I suppose that having a good bullshit detector helps, really. Also being part of a metal scene from about 13 years old (where I was the youngest by far) was very grounding for me. I was taught self-respect, the importance of friendship and to take responsibility for my actions. But I also had very understanding parents. My father was loved by everyone, and my mother was one of the most accepting, non-judgemental, friendly, generous and kind people anyone could ever hope to meet, and I would be very happy if any of those traits were passed down to me. I miss them terribly.
2. Which are the first memories that you have of music?
My first memory of enjoying music was lining up old 7 inch singles on my great-uncle’s 50’s, suitcase record player, and laughing when I played them on 78! But the first record I ever bought was by Adam And The Ants in 1981, and I always remember Motown being somehow in the air. Queen, Johnny Cash, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Iron Maiden were all big factors, too. Actually it was Iron Maiden - Killers LP that got me playing it over and over, and I vividly remember studying the album artwork. So later on, when I stared hanging out with older metal-heads, I’d offer to paint album covers on the backs of their leather jackets, and that’s how I earned extra cash to go to rock-clubs and gigs, fully under age, of course.
3. Outside of psychedelic electronic music, what music do you keep coming back to for leisure-time?
It depends how I’m feeling at the time, but mostly these days I’m listening to heavy rock, and metal, plus some technical metal, and desert rock; bands like Queens Of The Stone Age (easily the coolest band in the world) Mastodon, Red Fang, Lamb Of God, Meshuggah, High On Fire, American Sharks, PigsX7, Every Time I Die, Clutch, Power Trip, Truck Fighters, Graveyard, Cancer Bats, Animals As Leaders, I could go on and on, heheh! My other musical addiction is Funk music, I’ve been collecting it for years and used to DJ it, and personally I think that it’s the best dance music there is, which is why so many of it’s structural elements find their way into my own compositions.
4. How did you develop an interest in the music you’re making today, and did you come across any personally transformative events on that journey?
Quite simply an old friend took me to a massive rave on 14th September 1991. I was 17 years old and totally blown away by it because It was the first time that I saw regular people displaying a togetherness outside of the metal scene. This was the catalyst, and I started going to parties every weekend and recording tracks from pirate radio onto cassette tapes and also collecting vinyl, but within a few months I was taken to my first Goa party in Battersea, London, and my life changed again. From that point there was no turning back, so I did the India thing in 1994, got my Goa badge and I haven’t stopped since, but I’ve never had dreads though, Heheh.
5. What led you to music production?
It really was a natural progression for me, I was already jamming a lot, plus listening to electronic music, so what to do next? I couldn’t find a band to play with, but the desire to make music was really strong. I ended up helping my friends Bill & Ben write an electronic album that we recorded all live on a 32 channel desk in 1994. Those recordings were eventually released as separate EPs and 12 inches, and got Bill & Ben signed to Harthouse Records. But very soon after I sent myself to university to study a degree in Sculpture, and put music production on hold until 2003. That may seem random but I also have a healthy interest in the arts. Anyway, back to it!
6. What is your favourite studio tool?
It’s a tough question as I use so many things that I couldn’t do without, but I suppose my Nord Rack 3 for hardware and NI Reaktor for software. But I really like finding obscure ways of manipulating sounds so I use plug ins like Permut 8 from Sonic Charge, and Reaktor user library for really weird stuff.
7. If you don’t mind me asking, where do you stand on the seemingly eternal battle of “analog vs digital”?
Ah, this old debate! I really don’t care too much about it, if it sounds good it’s good! For instance I prefer to use a Nord Rack for most of my leads, sometimes 90% of my sounds, but in the end I’m manipulating them so much in multiFX plug-ins and post-processing that it’s not too important where the original sounds came from. Then again I can only really get what I’m personally after from my hardware, but I’m after gritty leads and crunchy sounds that stand out in the mix, and I struggle to get that by just using VSTs. So it’s purely subjective, in my opinion.
8. Are you super dedicated to consecutive hours of production time or do you split it up into little bits and pieces. Would you like it to be any different?
Definitely the latter. I take so many breaks as my ears get tired, and I also take big breaks between studio sessions as I have to work sometimes, plus coming back with fresh inspiration is very valuable to me. The only way that I’d prefer it to be different is by having a longer concentration span and to not be so wiped-out after gigs and festivals. I’m getting older and I still like to party, so maybe a new body would help with that.
9. Shine a little light on your process of making a track. Do you start in a particular way, and is there a structure or scheme to how you approach it?
I really find that taking a different approach every time has a big outcome on the final result. Sometimes I’ll make a track from the beginning of the intro, systematically working my way to the end. Sometimes I’ll make all of the main leads first, organise them into parts, then kind of work from the inside out. I’ve even made all of the atmospheric elements first, then I’ll see where the mood takes it. Sometimes I’ll have a track name I really like, so I’ll use it as inspiration or a brief to work with, to create a vibe in the music and have relatable elements within it, so right now I have a long list of track names that I constantly update, and delete. But of course, sometimes I make the Kik & Bass first, but I find that if I do that I have the least inspiration further down the line, as it won’t have so much sonic direction or personality.
10. Talk about your work-life balance. Do you have a balance? Yes I have a balance, it’s very necessary in today’s economic climate. The only reason I could write my album was because I was working in theatre. It enabled me to pay rent whilst having up to 8hrs a day studio time as I had most of my daytimes free. These days I have a healthy Gig/Work balance where I work when the theatre needs me to. I give them a calendar with my availability, and they call me in when I’m needed. I get to work in London’s West-End with my old friends and my girlfriend, Nadia, I love it!
11. On that note I’m interested in your opinion on the topic of artists getting professional help to organise or to further their career, with the intention to focus purely on being creative, instead of dealing with bookings or book keeping or things like that? Personally I wish good luck to anyone who has enough global interest to be helped by an agency, or similar. I’m currently with an agency (Quadra Bookings) who are non-exclusive so I can still operate as I please, so for me my bookings are easy to negotiate and don’t take up any creative time. Most of the artists getting the most help are much less underground, and tend to be playing bigger, commercial festivals around the world. I think that Brazil is one example of a quickly growing scene that will begin to accommodate more underground artists like myself, already they’re getting used to darker and faster styles. So it makes sense to be with an agency from there, in fact I already have an offer to join one. But after saying all of that, it really does help to do all bookings yourself. To have a personal relationship, then friendship with the people booking you is preferable, also they’re more likely to book you again.
12. Who is your favourite producer(s) and/or personalities of the industry? This is a tough question as it changes all the time, but I’m fortunate to be friends with a lot of the producers I admire, including yourself. I’m also very fortunate to be on my favourite record label, with artists like EVP, who I first noticed back in 2003, as someone who has constantly funked me up. Even before then, Wildthings label boss Beardy was mine and my mates favourite DJ, and Southwild recently brought me to tears at a festival... So it’s great being here, everyone’s so helpful and we really look out for each other. I need to mention Hypogeo as an innovator who is very unique and an influence on me, along with early Zenon Records. Bom Shanka Records have always brought some of the best UK underground, also Psynon records, Sangoma and Woo Dog are keeping it up nicely. I’ll just say that I’m mostly drawn to producers and labels who are doing things slightly differently than the rest, but also keeping things low down and dirty.
13. Are you striving for anything in particular in your music career, and what achievements would you like to look back on in your later years? It’s an interesting question as you need to really look at yourself and justify why the fuck am I doing this, heheh! I suppose I started to concentrate harder on some level of success so I could give something back to the scene I love. But also I wanted to offer something new, maybe a new style or something, so I really did my best to be as original and hard working as possible, and I’ve seen the results when producers that I like tell me that I inspired a track that they wrote. So that shit is awesome and makes me feel like I’ve made a lasting impression.
14. How did you manage to become a part of the well respected music label, Wildthings Records? Well I remember my first gig back in 2012 I played after Beardy, the label boss, but I was so drunk that he had to plug everything in for me, heheh, very embarrassing.. But very soon after that I played with him again for my first international booking in France, so that’s when I appeared on his radar, I think. About a year after that, Beardy asked me for a track for the next Wildthings compilation, which I was very happy to make, and the rest is history.
15. Looking back at how you got here, do you have one piece of advice for young Phil Getty from 10 - 15 years ago? Stop smoking.
16. What do you think was your main struggle when you started out making music? It was definitely learning how to use the software. I come from live music, but also a carpentry/art background, which is incredibly practical in a physical sense. To give you some idea of how technologically new I was I had to ask a sweet, old lady to print some documents out at my local library, as I’d never used a Computer before 2003. I was 30 years old.
17. Do you have a few words of advice for people who are coming up, or who will be coming up in the electronic music industry? Don’t be a pain in the ass.
Be grateful for what you are doing.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Don’t undersell yourself.
Be very clear in all communications with promoters.
Acknowledge the history of the scene you’re in.
Listen to other music.
Remember to sleep.
Don’t be a pain in the ass!!!
18. Do you wish you had a skill that you currently don’t possess? Yes, I wish I could earn money online from anywhere in the world, like a cam-girl, or something.
19. Would you say that you are an organised person, and what is your favourite organisational tool? Yeah, I think I’m quite organised, like I have a big wall-planner/calendar in my studio, and actually that’s the most useful tool I have. Also I’ve only ever missed one flight that’s been my fault, and that’s pretty good considering the lack of sleep before and after gigs.
20. What are you most proud of? Being incredibly humble! But seriously, I’m more grateful for, than proud of anything that I’ve done, and I’m still blown away by the knowledge that people listen to, and dance to my music. I take nothing for granted.
21. Do you have anything for us to keep an eye out for? Yeah! At the moment (end of 2019) I’m just finishing my 4th EP, to be released with Wildthings Records, hopefully before the end of the year. I’m yet to decide on a name, but expect something occult or dissident, of course. But first I have a new track coming out on the next Wildthings VA, compiled by DJ Beardy, release date TBC!
At last, I'm wondering when are you coming to Berlin to hang out? :)
One of my favourite cities! I will be there some time in 2020 😉
Until next time.
Author: Robert Hundt // Date: November 11th, 2019