Instrumental Insight • Phoelix
Phoelix is a liner note king who has been popping up all over the Chicago scene as of late. That being said, he might not be a name you recognize, unless you're obsessed with checking out the production credits for your favorite songs (like I am).
While Phoelix was not someone I was familiar with last year, he's since found his name as a co-producer for artists like Saba, Noname (I think she dropped the Gypsy), Nehemiah, Blakædvis, Leaf, and more. In regards to Noname, Phoelix assisted with her last two acclaimed tracks (“Freedom Interlude” and “All I Need”), helping to gain buzz for her highly anticipated Telefone release (summer?).
Rather than assist on one song by Saba, Phoelix seems to be a studio rat with the Pivot Gang member, having worked on the song “Soap Box” as well as the new number “World in My Hands” which features Smino and LEGIT. On top of that, Saba also added a hypnotizing and impressive verse for Phoelix's solo track “Buddah”, which I'm still looping on a daily basis.
Production credits and powerhouse assists aside, Phoelix is also a vocalist, often enjoying a nice amount of auto tune. Although this column is called Instrumental Insight and we focus on producers, it's always great to have a strong vocalist who can also create his/her own backdrop (see also: Sean Deaux).
Sending this article a bit into the past, Phoelix first appeared on my radar (and the TheseDays radar) as part of the experimental and smooth duo MDMC. They released their debut EP FirsTrip half a year ago and followed that up with the three-song EP Lisa earlier this year. Alongside artist EL, they describe their sound as "a sudden-death cage match between your heart, your head, and your loins.”
Along with the strong MDMC releases, Phoelix also dazzles and dabbles in the solo realm, having released one of the more slept on projects of 2016, ingénu, which he claims simply, “Made this in my bed a couple nights ago.”
It's obvious that Phoelix doesn't stop working. Even when he leaves the studio, he's examining and altering stems, he's opening new files and starting new projects. After Saba's newest dropped today, complete with production credits from Phoelix, it looks like the talented man of the hour is not one to do one-off collaborations. Instead, he seems to find artists he can vibe with, molding chemistry into something more than a simplistic single. A bigger picture seems to always be at the helm with Phoelix's output. Something tells me he will be a close and frequent collaborator for Saba's full-length follow-up to ComfortZone. 2016 might not be the mainstream year of Phoelix, as he's still subtly flexing behind the curtain, but something tells me he will enter more and more conversations about Chicago's talented scene as the months continue.