When it comes to music, Phoelix has the golden touch. The Fox Valley artist helped put Chicago on the map with work behind the boards for some of Chicago’s biggest names, but as a solo artist, he has so much more to offer. A talented vocalist and producer with a sound of his own and a story to tell, Phoelix has now dropped GSPL. What he considers his debut project, GSPL is an EP bursting with life, his in particular.
An exploration of Phoelix’s journey up to this point, GSPL is an EP composed of moments telling the broader story of a musician out of Fox Valley. Over 7 tracks, Phoelix gives a cohesive picture developing from beginning to end. The name GSPL alludes to the process of storytelling, referencing one of our oldest stories and how it was passed down.
“‘It just speaks to it being a story about me…the Gospel and the Bible were essentially a story about Jesus not to compare myself to him…it was a story about someone’s life up to a certain point. I feel like I’m at the point of my life where I’m like, shifting into this new kind of life, a new reality. It’s what I’ve been dreaming it’s becoming...on tour, traveling for a year now. For the last year of my life I’ve been making this music, and now this is the story of my beginning until now...’GSPL’ is my story.”
This isn’t a story in the narrative sense, but a take on memory. Each song representing a different snapshot of Phoelix coming up, the idea is to paint a picture. Each song, each memory, a different color and mood.
“...it’s illustrative. Since I like to paint pictures, I like to paint a scene. I like to make you feel like you’re in a certain place and you can close your eyes and visualize where I was when I was feeling those things, where I was going with those things, certain things happening...as it gets deeper it gets more illustrative, more refined lyrically and content wise - it’s all good but it gets more specific.”
Topics range from his ancestral history and the power and swagger of his immediate family, to vice, curtailed love, friendships and everything in between. The personal element is reinforced by the fact that the only voices you'll hear on the album are Phoelix and one feature from his brother Dax. The point he hammers home is specificity. Everybody has their own story. Defining someone by pre-existing lines can never and will never accurately reflect a person. Growing up in the Church as well as in the suburbs, assumptions are a dynamic Phoelix frequently encounters and takes pride in flipping upside down.
“I want it to change people’s ideas about stuff. Like what it means to be a kid that grows up in church…being a pastor’s kid...stereotypes that aren’t real. People say what you can and can’t do, fuck that shit. I used to have locks and I used to say the reason I had dreads was because a lot of motherfuckers will think you’re one person. It’ll be funny as hell, you walk into a venue, I have on a hoodie and I have my dreads, and I get on stage and start playing the piano and people would be like, ‘what the fuck?’ That reaction is like exactly what I wanted, that was perfect, I love that shit. Because you can’t tell me who I am.”
Phoelix is complex, just like anyone else. That’s why GSPL connects. There's a universality to it, that helps the listener relate on top of providing a variety of territory musically and thematically. Because of this, few projects have combined eclectic and cohesive as well as Phoelix has with ‘GSPL’. He would describe it as having the Fox Valley sound, " “It’s just steps ahead, we use sound differently, we just do things differently. It’s not as, I wouldn’t say scripted or by the book, but it’s not normal. ”
The project starts chilled out at "Red Beans & Rice". Halfway through at “Bones”, the energy level jumps way high. But pulling the rug from under us, the progression of the second half isn’t upward or outward, but inward. Psychedelic on the DL, GSPL gets weirder and weirder with each track, ending with the masterful last track “Tom and Jerry” that unwinds the entire exercise like a drugged up VHS tape. Phoelix, describes it as “smokin’ a blunt, bout to go to sleep. Fuzzy.” The distinct beginning to end of the progression of the project sets it apart.
“I think it just matures as it progresses… It gets deeper as you go along. Not that it’s shallow even, but more introductory...you grow up as you grow through it...I would say it gets deeper if anything...It’s like, I guess you could say it’s like walking into a volcano - the center of the earth or something like that. You get to it’s core and it’s something crazy.”
Trained in composition, film scoring, live arrangement, Phoelix is as gifted a songwriter, producer, rapper, singer as they come. Phoelix is now telling his story his way, taking the opportunity to really step out as a solo artist. And he wants to emphasize that's much, much more to come.
"“I can rap with anybody, I can sing with anybody, I can do all that shit with anybody. You can’t just call me one thing, I don’t just do one thing, I do everything, I’m taking it there with everything - that’s what I want to get across. The shit I’m doing on this, it’s gonna be undeniable I feel... you’re gonna respect me as being a singer and a rapper and a producer and a musician, all day...this is just the beginning, this is not the end, there’s a lot that comes after this. But don’t take this as nothing. It’s a big deal..."