AMIDST THE RECENT burgeoning of the local music scene lies Phyla Digital, a small but tight-knit crew of music connoisseurs and producers alike. Founded in late 2012, Phyla Digital was formed as a way to plug a gap in the existing electronic music landscape.
“We realised that there were too many talented producers in Singapore but no medium for them to release,” explained Nikhil, one of the founding members of Phyla. “I was listening quite keenly to all their works (FAUXE, Diphasic for example) and I felt we needed to get their work out somehow.” That’s when Nikhil decided to approach Harv, who was equally passionate about music and was on the same frequency as he was. So when FAUXE’s demos appeared on the horizon, both of them decided to jump on them, and thus Phyla was established.
Since then, the team has grown to include acts such as FAUXE, M X N D // K R F T, Iyer, Jaydah and FZPZ. In regards to the evolution and growing popularity of the electronic music scene, most of the members seemed to have rather positive remarks to contribute. Both Nikhil and Harv seem optimistic and excited about the growing scene, though they do agree that more needs to be done to sustain it. Nikhil, for one, believes that it has to grow into something that is foundational for the future, and not just a way for “promoters to make money and for listeners to get a quick fix”, while Harv emphasizes on the importance of paying homage to the people who dare to constantly push boundaries, whether it be DJ gigs or live electronic music.
“Shoutouts and massive respect goes out to Lush99.5, Good Times, Homeclub, kyo, Syndicate, Darker Than Wax, Midnight Shift, NoPartyHere, FFF, ATTAGIRL! and Sideshow.”
Jaydah makes a rather astute comment about the popularity of electronic music, despite only having become a DJ in 2012. “As much as EDM has infiltrated most of its atmosphere, there is a growing trend of audiences curious of the outskirts of electronic music that has nothing to do with EDM. I believe it’s more about channeling the appreciation and building the awareness in the right direction. For me as Phyla’s selektah, it’s really about connecting the music with the audiences, and trusting them to understand it.”
“I always try to tell listeners that my playlist might not necessarily make them dance, but its foremost purpose should be to make them feel something.”
FAUXE, on the other hand, approaches the question at a different angle. He believes that with the advancement and availability of technology, the makings of an electronic tune have become somewhat simpler, what some might think as just “pushing a button”. While this isn't true, he feels that the true evolution lies in the thought processes in creation. “Producers now understand that since they are able to speed up the process of laying down ideas, they are now able to experiment even more within the creative process and this is the evolution I speak of, where thought processes are constantly changing in terms of electronic music.”
Alongside the evolution of electronic, music consumption has radically changed as well. In an odd polarization of mediums, vinyl records are slowly making their comeback in Singapore while music streaming apps increase in volumes as well. I ask the team on why they choose to keep focus on digital releases and capitalise not on the sudden vinyl boom.
“The vinyl comeback you speak of works for either bands in Asia or electronic music produced outside of Asia. I have yet to see an Asian electronic imprint take that leap,” remarks Nikhil. “The focus was hence digital because we weren’t too sure of an investment in physical releases paying off without a firmly established brand.”
FAUXE adds on to this, “Market wise it doesn't seem to feasible enough even though there are people here who collect and buy vinyl records. If nobody is going to spend a dollar on a tune, I definitely won't expect them to purchase physical copies of any sorts.” Harv offers a bit more optimism, sharing that they did publish limited run CDs at some of their release launches, which were quickly sold out. He mentions that if people are willing to fund our cause by consistently supporting our releases, he’s sure that they would produce vinyls and CDs at some point.
As for music streaming, Nikhil says that it is quite a polarizing topic for the team. Although all their releases will be on Spotify, Nikhil admits to still acquiescing to the idea. He does agree that for a casual listener, it’s a great place to find everything. “We don’t lose anything by having our releases on there. It’s the internet age after all so trying to eschew that medium is unnecessarily rebellious.”
Phyla also shared their hopes for the future development of the music scene, with wishes ranging from a comprehensive gig guide, to increased unity and appreciation of the efforts of their growing community. Nikhil, for one, urges listeners to come out to shows, while hoping that the media would embrace the grassroots work put in by the community and cover these events more actively. That’s not to say that he isn’t grateful for the support thus far, using it as motivation to keep pushing Phyla forward. He puts it the most succinctly:
With the intent of keeping their focus on local producers and doing more shows in Singapore and the region, Phyla Digital has slated more tunes to be released from the pool of local talents here, including debut releases by FZPZ, MXND//KRFT and a few other fresh faces.
Keep an eye out for their latest release, Outrage of Modesty – 0$P$ that will be out on 19 Feb 2015 (yup, first day of Chinese New Year!). In the meantime, you can check Phyla Digital on Facebook, Soundcloud and Bandcamp.
All images courtesy of Phyla Digital.