REPPIN' THE ENDS: Ember Phoenix, who hails from west London via Trinidad
DESCRIBING HIS sound as 'trap mixed with R&B’, the west London artist discusses his journey thus far, new project Levels and how nothing is musically off-limits for him.
Q: How and when did you first get into music?
A: From the age of about three or four. My mum used to send me to church and I had no choice but to be part of the choir. I was actually decent though!
Q: You can also rap, as well as sing. So, in terms of broadening your skillset to the former, how and when did that come about?
A: That came about much later when I was about 12 or 13 years old, listening to garage like Heartless Crew and So Solid Crew. From messing about in the playground with lyrics, I started to take it more seriously – going to pirate radio stations and different clashes in different areas. I never lost a clash. At the time, I felt like grime was a bit restricting.
Q: In what way?
In the sense that I could only express myself through anger. I always used to rap and sing which was great because it went along with what I was going through. However, as you get older and experience more things, you want to talk about different subjects. With grime it became more and more difficult to talk about those things, without losing your core fan base.
Q: So in light of this, how would you describe your current sound?
A: I believe that everyone that likes my music likes the 'turn up' clubbing aspect. However, they also like the deeper, more reflective side. The thinking about life and what they are trying to achieve. I’d describe my overall sound as a mixture of all of the above. As far as genre, rap mixed with R&B is the direction I’m heading in now.
Q: You released a project on 16 December last year entitled Levels. Can you walk me through the process behind that?
A: Levels is a joint project with me and friend Beast. Anyone who’s listened to my music before would say that it’s different to my usual style. Every artist has their experimental moments and that was definitely mine. The reason why I allowed myself to do that was because of the faith that I have in Beast. He’s the only person I trust enough to experiment and feel happy with the end result.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Trinidad and I moved to Harlesden, north west London. I got kicked out of my house around the age of 16 and that’s when I started moving around the west London area. I’ve literally lived in just about every town from Uxbridge all the way to Shepherd’s Bush, Ladbroke Grove. I always just say I’m from west because the majority of my friends are from there and my stories are from up and down Uxbridge Road.
Q: Name three UK artists that you would collaborate with...
A: Adele - she makes completely different music from what I make. Giggs - I've been listening to more of him recently. Out of the love for the ends, I’d have to also say WSTRN. I’d support home grown.
Q: You have a label – Cold City. When did you start it and what do you hope it’ll bring to the table?
A: I officially started my label in 2012. I basically signed myself to myself. I remember living in a youth hostel when I was about 16 or 17 listening to a Ludacris album – either Chicken-n-Beer or Word of Mouth – where he had a track about how to be successful in the game. He talks about registering your name, signing yourself to yourself – owning everything you do. That’s always something I’ve been an advocate of, that whole independence. I’m not saying I’d never sign to a label; I’ve always had joint deals but I do believe in being up on your business.
Q: What have you got in the pipeline?
A: I’ve got another project coming up and it’s called EnTRAPreneur. I am tentative about a release date but at the moment I am just five or six tracks deep. This is my story but elevated. I’ll be taking the listener on a personal journey about the vibe that I am on now, my way of thinking.
Levels is currently available for purchase via all major retailers and for streaming via Spotify.
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