It’s Phoebe and her Shortstraws
As part of this Parishues music week, it was impossible not share with you again the super talent of my school and childhood friend Phoebe Killdeer. Here is an interview we did a few months ago. Not only do I love her cause she is a friend but her voice is objectively OUT OF THIS PLANET.
Here it is, hope you enjoy the talented artist and her work the way I very much do!
I cannot describe the sensation I feel when I listen to Phoebe’s deep, surreal, jazzy voice. She makes me feel like I am in a David Lynch movie/an heroin of an old flic/charged with energy. Phoebe Killdeer and The Short Straws:
Being a singer too, Guildhall School trained and all that, I really appreciate an original, balanced voice. Phoebe impresses me for that.
It really doesn’t help that I have known Phoebe since school, for maybe (drum roll:) 25 years now. The idea that I know where the voice is coming from touches me deep inside. I was buddies with her beautiful sisters Zazie and Chloe and believe me, the whole school was in awe of these 3 ethereal spirits of femininity and grace. The beautiful story now is that Chloe (the middle sister) manages Phoebe (the youngest of the 3). Sister love at it’s pinnacle.
Here, I got to interview Phoebe from her base in Berlin. Even her voice, her speaking voice, hypnotized me. It was a real feat for me to concentrate.
Fiona: So Phoebe, before I knew you in London, what was your life?
Phoebe Killdeer: I was born in Antibes, South of France in 1977 to Australian parents. We spent the 10 first years of my life in Aix en Provence where I joined the local dance school at the age of 3. My mother is a contemporary dancer and we just automatically went with that artistic flow. At the age of 6 I joined the local dance company but we had to leave for London a few years later, where you and I met!
F: how was school for you, considering how artistic you are?
PK: I was dreamy and shy and towards my A levels, I got pushed out of school by a teacher who wanted me to explore what was out there for me I think. I went on a voluntary trip to Africa as a result when I was 19. I started listening to African and Hip Hop beats over the radio there and that was a revelation for me. I felt that was the music I wanted to work with.
F: so how did you launch your career as a singer/composer?
PK: I started to go to a great bar that existed in London, called the WKD in Camden. There was always live music going on and people I knew were up on stage. Some others were pushing me to get up there and share my music. That’s where and when I realised it was my vocation. I was working on/off as a sound engineer at the time but that didn’t feel completely right. I was 26 years old then and I have never looked back. My sister Chloe immediately started managing me and together we met with some producers and started some studio work.
F: who have you worked with and how did your career move on to La Nouvelle Vague?
PK: I collaborated with Basement Jaxx on their kish kash album as well as Bang Gang (on the track There was a Whisper) and the English Electro group ODB. In 2005 I joined the group Nouvelle Vague which was largely influenced by the Punk Rock wave. This was such a liberatory phase for me, I could try out different things, perform the way I wanted. This is also when I started working with our producer, Marc Collins. Then La Nouvelle Vague came to an end for me and I wanted to really compose my own version of a band, with the specific influences I had going on in my head!
F: who are the musicians behind the short straws and what are their influences?
PK: Cedric is our lead guitarist. I actually saw him live in concert one night and it was total musical love at first sight, I just had to work with him. He is influenced mainly by 60′s rock. Alex is our bass player, he is more experimental, romantic. Our drummer is Raph, has played drums forever and is very influenced by electro.
F: what was it like working on your first album and touring?
PK: it took me years to write Weather’s Coming and we actually toured for a whole 2 years to promote it. We are a stage band, a LIVE band and so we were already used to that whole experience.
F: and your second album?
PK: I really wanted it to sound like we do on stage. Not studio, not finished. Innerquake needed to sound live. I got the name for this album from my mother, who is one of my greatest influences along with our common love for Tom Waits. This album was about introspection, confronting my demons and I think it reflects that well. Now the musicians and I are used to working together, I am more like the conductor in an orchestra. I can come up with a tune but they will put it all into place for me. They just translate what I feel and what I hear in my head. I try to push them to go as far into themselves as they can and they pay me back with some beautiful sounds.
F: what are your plans now Phoebe?
PK: there’s work on a 3rd album but we are still touring now for Innerquake. We are the touring band! I would also love to go into directing, choreography, the whole setting up process of a concert or a show. There is so much more out there for me than just singing, I am going there where I feel I must.
And you know what? She will.
She’s magic and never quite touches the ground. The way she was when we were young and the way she will stay always. Thank you Phoebe. I can’t wait to follow your next steps.