Phé is an r&b singer/songwriter from Vancouver, Canada.
Phé revealed her debut single “Feel You” in 2018. Showcasing smooth and soulful vocals, the 24 year old singer/songwriter reveals herself as a promising and empowering artist with a message.
Her debut EP “CRISIS” was released on December 14th. Produced by Mombru, and Jaime Estalella, “CRISIS” is an r&b-soul record that explores the subjects of self-love and self-worth, young love, heartbreak, sexuality, hook-up/rebound culture, and mental health.
“I named the EP CRISIS because in the middle of this whole experience I got to a point where I either had to change my ways and being to actively work on healing, or I would enter a space that I wouldn’t be able to pull myself out from, and I would be completely isolated. And from that place, I chose to change. I chose to go down what, at the time, felt like the harder path because it required working through a lot of really painful stuff. But in the end, it saved me from getting stuck in my own darkness,” explains Phé.
“CRISIS” is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself - What's your story?
My name is Phé, I’m 24 years old, and originally from Vancouver, BC, Canada. I’m a Taurus Sun, a pescetarian ( I eat seafood but not “land meat”), a dog person, and I love the Disney princess franchise -- I pretty much taught myself to sing by watching and singing along to Disney Princess movies and can recite essentially all the words to any Disney Princess song from the years 1989 - 1998. Growing up, I was drawn to performing at a very young age, taking to the stage as a dancer, actor, and singer from a very young age -- traveling Canada and the world, performing, competing and teaching workshops in West African Dance, Tap, Jazz, and hip-hop, and writing and participating in my school’s plays and musicals from as early as I can remember. I played the alto saxophone from grade 6 - 12, although I’m not totally sure how I made it through because looking back after having attended Berklee, and taking music theory classes, I’m realizing that I couldn’t actually really read music and had zero understanding of the music theory behind it all. During those years I learned a lot of the music by ear, and just memorized which dot on the staff was which fingering position. Throughout high school, I lived in the band room and the auditorium, always rehearsing a school play or musical and practicing with the choir, vocal jazz ensemble, and concert band. Performing was literally my life. Outside of school, I took voice lessons and was part of the choir at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music. These were my first actual voice lessons and taught me how my voice worked and how to manipulate it to get the sounds I wanted. Following high school, I took a year off, during which I spent some time living in Toronto -- my first time living away from home -- doing modeling and TV advertising work. I also spent this year prepping for my audition at Berklee, where I ended up studying for 4 years. I graduated from Berklee in 2017, and moved to LA to continue pursuing my career as a solo artist. During my first year in LA, I interned for independent pop artist Ella Vos, and for Solange Knowles and her management team. I went on tour with Ella Vos as a background vocalist and supporting, played my first solo shows in New York City, Seattle, Portland, and LA, finished producing and recording my debut EP, co-wrote songs for other artists, and worked as a personal assistant for Jared Leto. It was an absolutely crazy year!
And here we are now… Who knows what the Universe has in store next.
You were born and raised in Vancouver. Any favorite childhood memory?
While my family wasn’t particularly well off, and we moved around a lot, I had a really great upbringing. My parents, having divorced when I was three, had and still have a really great relationship, and did everything in their power to encourage, support, and lift up my younger sister and me. One of my favorite memories would have to be hiking the trails in the mountains with my mom and little sister, looking for fairy houses, in the nooks and crannies of the mossy rocks and trees. Everything was full of magic growing up. Anything was possible, even when we didn’t have much.
How would you describe Vancouver?
Growing up, Vancouver was lush and green. It was beautiful and sunny in the summer, and grey and cozy in the winter. Still, to this day, rain is one of the most soothing sounds to me. With its mountains, cityscape, and beaches all within miles of each other, there really is no place like it on earth.
What did you grow up listening to?
I grew up listening to all sort of stuff, both through my parents and of my own discovery!
With my dad, I listened to a lot of South African music, neo-soul, R&B, and jazz. Anthony Hamilton, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Sade, Minnie Ripperton, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, the list goes on. With my mom, there was often classical music playing in the house. We also listened to Sarah McLachlan, who would later become a huge mentor figure to me throughout my time at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music.
In elementary school, when I started listening to and buying/downloading music on my own, it was of popular music like Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Missy Elliot, Ciara, Avril Lavigne, Usher, Neyo, and Beyonce. Then in high school, I began really exploring stuff like Mowtown and the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and Marvin Gaye. From there I transitioned to indie folk/pop music along with musical theatre, hip-hop and contemporary R&B, and EDM. So that period of my life was a mixed bag of Bon Iver, First Aid Kit, Fleet Foxes, the Wicked Soundtrack, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Swedish House Mafia, and Drake.
I think the only style of music I never really got into was pop country. But otherwise, I grew up listening to and being curious about a bit of everything.
When did you start feeling connected to art in general?
Art was always something I was drawn to, so there was never really a moment where I remember that sparking. It’s just always been a part of me and how I express myself. Growing up, I was a part of the fine arts program at my elementary school -- a program through which all the core curriculum was taught “through the arts”. So for history, when we were learning about ancient Greece, we would make our own clay vases and carve our own little ancient Greek style images into them. Or we would write our own musical about the myth of Perseus And Medusa, and would then perform it for the school and all our parents.
I then took that and continued to use that method of learning throughout high school, often writing songs as a study and memorization technique, and making videos for class projects and presentations.
Do you remember the first album you've ever bought?
I believe the first album I ever bought was the in 2001 and was the YTV Big Fun Party Mix compilation CD -- featuring songs by S Club 7, Aaron Carter, Aqua, and soulDecision. It was quite the album ahaha. I honestly was obsessed with that CD and played it over and over again. I could probably still recite all the words to every song if I had to.
You studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. What did this school teach you as an artist?
Honestly, Berklee taught me most about myself as a person, and the kind of human I don’t want to be. It challenged me and pushed me into spaces I had never been in before. I made mistakes and did really stupid things. I met people from around the world that are now some of my best friends, I got to make music with people I never would have known otherwise. It showed me the importance and power of community, along with a lot of super practical skills and knowledge about music ( theory, history etc), and the business of the industry. But most of what I learned about being an artist and expressing myself as a creative was learned simply from doing and from experience.
What gave you the confidence to be an artist and release your original music?
In 2015 I played my first show as Phé, with a full band, in front of friends, strangers, and peers, and I had never experienced a feeling like that before. The pure rush and joy of just letting everything go on stage, and taking this group of people on such a beautiful, emotional, and cathartic journey with you. Everyone walks away from that with something in their hearts. The joy of being able to be present with other people in a moment like that is so beautiful and moving. It truly is surreal. After that show, a switch just flicked inside of me, and I knew that this was the path for me. I knew.
Knowing that, through music, I can bring people together to experience something like that gives me all I need to feel confident in being an artist and releasing music.
You've just released your debut EP "Crisis". What can you tell us about this EP? What's the story behind it?
CRISIS is my first release and really my first exploration of self as an artist. So it holds a lot for me! It’s the groundwork and hours I needed to put in in order to be where I am now, to be ready to continually open myself up like that and expand as an artist.
It tells the story of my first experience with love and heartbreak -- and how I was ill-equipped to be able to understand and deal with the spaces that took me to. I didn’t have the foundation of love for myself that I really needed to be able to properly love and be loved by someone else. So this project was my way of working through that and coming out the other end stronger and better, even though the journey was messy and painful, and sometimes embarrassing.
Who did you work with?
I was lucky enough to work on this project with my friends, and people that I love. My two producers were my friend Mombru, and my boyfriend Jaime Estalella. I also had the pleasure of writing some of the songs with friends from school, which was a super new and experimental experience for me, as I had never co-written for my own songs prior to that. It’s been interesting learning how to balance the personal relationships with the working relationships, and walking into the room with our “work hats” on. Communication is so different when the person is someone you are friends with and have a personal relationship with, so when you enter the workspace, you have to sort of learn not to take things so personally. We aren’t necessarily talking as friends, we are talking as co-workers and professionals with a very specific goal.
What made you want to name this EP "Crisis"?
I named the EP CRISIS because in the middle of this whole experience I got to a point where I either had to change my ways and being to actively work on healing, or I would enter a space that I wouldn’t be able to pull myself out from, and I would be completely isolated.
And from that place, I chose to change. I chose to go down what, at the time, felt like the harder path because it required working through a lot of really painful stuff. But in the end, it saved me from getting stuck in my own darkness. That moment was a huge turning point for me, and probably the most meaningful point on which everything else was hinged. The story needed to happen the way it did in order for me to come out stronger and better. So I guess calling it CRISIS was my way of appreciating and recognizing that sometimes we need the mess in order to really be forced into facing ourselves.
What are the different topics you are talking about in this project?
Throughout the project, some of the main themes I explore are self-love and self-worth, young love, heartbreak, sexuality, hook-up/rebound culture, and mental health.
What did you learn about yourself after finishing this EP?
I learned that it takes me a while to really understand myself… if that makes sense. Writing stuff down and being able to see and hear what I am thinking is a really helpful way for me to process my thoughts and get them across. I think a lot, and don’t always say much, but through music, I am able to freely express all the things I am trying to say and understand.
What message do you want to convey through your music?
I want to convey that it is okay to open yourself up and be vulnerable. I’m seeing more and more young people tuning in to their feelings and intuition which I think is super important and beautiful. The more we listen to what our bodies and environments are tellings, the more fluidly and openly we can walk through life. So I hope to be able to give people a space in which they feel safe to do that work and examine the inner workings of themselves -- whatever form that may take.
If you had to sum up your year 2018 in a few words, what would you say?
Strengthening. This past year really tested me and my path. I had to consistently show up to bat, no matter what, and at times that was really hard to do. There were people who made me doubt myself and my music, there were spaces I entered where I didn’t feel accurately seen or understood. But through it all, I needed to stay strong in my footing and keep moving forward, believing 100% in myself when others didn’t.
What are the things you are the proudest of?
I would have to say, that right now, I am simply proudest of myself. For trusting myself, and listening to my intuition despite the tests and challenges that I’ve been faced with along my journey so far -- coming in the form of people, disappointment, situations, empty promises and more. It took me until this year to be able to begin to detach myself from outside validation and truly own who I am, what I want to do, and the path that I am traveling down.
What are your plans for 2019?
2019 is going to be a huge a growth year for me. I’ve spent so long working on CRISIS, and having to revisit and reconnect with the emotion and story of it all. But, now that it’s out, I get to move on and start exploring other parts of my being. And so I really want to take advantage of that! I want to collaborate and try new things. I want to LEARN and get inspired and be challenged and pushed. I’m going to make music that feels good and represents where I am right now in my life -- as confusing and up in the air it all is. The plan is to, by the end of the year, have a body of work that levels me up to the next space as an artist and in my career. Its time to level up! I just feel it in my bones.
My first year and a half in LA was hard, and confusing for me. I tried to feel supported by working jobs that had nothing to do with my music, I think in part because I was scared to take that risk of putting everything into myself and my project. There were people who didn’t care to understand my vision and in turn made me doubt myself. But now, having moved through all that, I get to be comfortable with being present in experiencing it all, as it is. And I’m thankful and excited to be exactly where I am in this moment.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
I believe that the world would be a better place if we all took the time to learn to actively listen to each other and had an interesting in wanting to understand one another’s point of view. So much of communication today lacks the process of actively hearing what the person is saying and then attempting to understand where they are coming from.
At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel safe, loved, seen, and supported. Now the degrees and actual implementation of this varies based on where you are in the world simply because of peoples experiences, history, and upbringing. But we all want the same things, and feel threatened when we feel like someone is trying to take those things away from us. And it’s ignorance that breeds that fear. A lack of understanding outside of our own little worlds. Rather than trying to meet that person where they are, and being open to REALLY understanding the big picture, we stay trapped in our circles of understanding and “safety”.
What's your purpose?
I believe that my purpose is to create space for people to heal -- in whatever form that may take for them. Music has a transformative power and gives people permission to be “in their feelings” in order to examine those spaces of themselves that they believe the world doesn’t want to see.
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