Kallan Phillips is seemingly just like you and I. He’s a fourth year History and Security and Counter Terrorism student at Murdoch University who’s just doing his thing. What you might not guess as he walks by on campus is that in his spare time he likes to set up shop in his bedroom studio writing and producing his own killer music with an EP in the works that is set to come out sometime later this year.
“I guess it’s always been a thing. I grew up in a really musical family” Kallan explains “I’ve played guitar and piano most of my life so I just started making music that I wanted to hear and writing stuff that I was thinking about at the time.”
When it was time for Kallan to head to uni he decided that he could either go to WAAPA, or, he could study something different that he’s passionate about and make a pact with himself to learn the ins and outs of music production in his spare time.
In particular, Kallan explains that he has drawn a lot of inspiration from rap and hip-hop music production, “listening to hip-hop was big for me because I grew up listening to a lot of blues and rock. I listened to an album called Illmatic by NAS which is like a classic rap album and it’s got this incredible production by DJ Premier and when I heard that it totally blew my mind as far as how music can be made.”
Kallan describes what he is creating as lo-fi soul, “in the early 2000’s there was a movement called the neo-soul movement so it sprang out of soul music mixing with hip-hop production. I take a lot from that but the difference between that and my music production is that neo-soul music was often produced with lots of people collaborating and lots of different musicians working on it whereas my stuff is all really solo oriented.”
The music Kallan is producing not only draws its roots from hip-hop and soul but also from the energetic music of the American south which he experienced during his exchange in the states.
“I was lucky enough to go to the USA so I got to visit cities like New Orleans, Chicago, Nashville and Memphis, all these great musical places. I spent a weekend in New Orleans in a place called Frenchman Street, they have nine or ten different jazz clubs, no cover – you just walk in there – and the music and the atmosphere is incredible,” explains Kallan.
“One of the gigs I went to there was this guy that had come out of rehab the day before and he said ‘this is my first gig in about four months, we just decided to get the and back together’ and he just walked around the bar playing the trombone while the rest of his band grooved out in this tiny little space.”
It hasn’t been an entirely easy progression; Kallan explains “it’s kind of been a long four year process. I can imagine that when I first started I’d get to a point where I thought what I was making was really good but I look back on it now and think that it’s really average.”
“The other thing was actually finding something to write about, to have a decent voice as an artist you’ve got to have something that you need to share. Travelling overseas helped me, it kind of gave me context of what my life was in Australia I suppose – you can see it from a distance and really understand who you are and what it is that you’re passionate about.”
Working entirely as a solo artist Kallan has been writing, producing and promoting his work as a musician “I think that’s probably the hardest part of it all, the self-promotion side of things, ‘cos you kind of have to go up to people and say ‘hey, you should listen to my music or come to my gig, I’m really good.’”
If you’d like to listen to Kallan’s music check him out at http://kallanphillips.bandcamp.com/ or keep an eye on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KallanPhillips for updates on the EP and live performance dates.
Words by Olivia Gardner