Phillip Phillips at Fresh Fall Fest

Last night, a few lucky fans had the chance to see Phillip Phillips and Dave Eggar perform an acoustic set as part of Fresh Fall Fest 2016.
The annual event, hosted by Fresh 102.7 New York, took place at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York, NY. OneRepublic and singer/songwriter Mike Posner were also part of the lineup.

Photo credit: Beacon Theatre
Photo credit: Beacon Theatre

Earlier, Phillip joined Christine Richie from Fresh 102.7 New York to talk about the show and answer some questions about his upcoming 3rd album. Among other things, Phillip confirmed that the album is done and that a new single should be released in the “next few weeks.” Take a look at the interview below!

Check out some more photos from last night below and of Phillip’s last visit to Fresh 102.7 at the link!

Phillip Phillips Talks Invictus Games, New Album

Phillip Phillips called in today for a quick chat with radio host Mario Lopez on his show “On With Mario Lopez.” In the interview Phillip revealed a few details about his third album (he has been working on it for the last several months), his upcoming summer tour, and recent addition as one of the musical acts taking part in the 2016 Invictus Games.

The Invictus Games are an international sporting event for wounded, ill, and injured Service men and women – both active duty and veteran. Founded by HRH Prince Harry, the first Invictus Games were held in 2014 in London. The 2016 Games will take place May 8 – 12, 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Phillip will play on May 12 as part of the Closing Ceremony.

Listen to the interview below!

And click here to learn more and buy tickets for the Games.

Q-and-A with Phillip Phillips

Grand Canyon University student Ashley Romantic sat down with Phillip Phillips before his concert at GCU Arena Saturday night to talk about his music, faith, advice for college students and, of course, how to get your Lopes Up.

Q: Tell us about your album “Behind the Light.”

A: I think it’s got a little bit of everything to it. It’s got some funk, a little bit of soul, rock, a little jazz and pop. I think it’s good. It’s honest. I only have two albums out so it’s definitely my best work so far. I am starting to work on my third one right now and am really excited. It has some cool, kind of weird stuff happening, but I like it like that.

Q: I am sure everyone out there will think it’s really good.

A: Not everyone, there’s always somebody who thinks it’s not good, but that’s just people you know. As long as my mom and fiancé like it, that’s what counts.

Q: I understand it’s geared more toward a concert setting. Is this the most fun you’ve ever had on tour?

A: Yes. I was touring last year. This year I am writing a lot more, doing shows here and there kind of like this one, more like one-off shows. But every time I get to play the songs, especially when I was debuting and doing the tour, it was a lot of fun. It’s easy to get them live. As my band played on, we just changed up stuff, added some jam in and other musical parts. It’s always fun and it’s always evolving. I definitely wanted to represent that live setting, live show and that is what I am working toward on the third one. You always want to keep them different, and when making a song for the album you want to make a song and not just a jam. And when you play it live, that’s when you have fun and get crazy.

Q: Do you play university settings often? What are your impressions of GCU and GCU Arena?

A: It’s very beautiful. It’s definitely one of the cleaner arenas I have ever seen. This campus is great. My first headlining tour, all I did was college dates and it was a lot of fun. You build those fans with people similar to your age.

Q: You get the crazy college kids.A: Yeah, are they crazy here?

Q: Well, we go to Chapel so we are mellow, but we do get crazy.

A: We’ll go to church tonight, then!

Phillip-Phillips.014_webQ: So what was your school experience like? Were you more the excited and anxious type or were you dreading it?

A: Ah no, I always hated school since I was kid. When I was going to college, too… What I was studying, it was something I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life, so that made it miserable. If you are going for something you enjoy, I am sure it is a lot more fun. It’s still hard work.

Q: What role does faith play in your life?

A: It plays a big part. I grew up in church. Ever since I was a kid, my mom played the piano and sang. My Poppa, my grandfather, he led worship when I was a kid. He has a deep voice, and now he sings a little quieter. My dad would sing sometimes, and both my sisters sang in church at a young age. I didn’t get into music until I was about 14. I was into my music, but I didn’t pick up the guitar until I was 14. I grew up on the hymns. I was writing this week with my band — a few of those guys play in church sometimes when they are home — and I started signing some hymns, and they were like, “Oh yeah, Phil, we didn’t know you knew that.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, I grew up learning all those.” All my friends went to a more contemporary churches, singing more David Crowder type of stuff. I love David Crowder, it’s an incredible band. I was singing “Old Rugged Cross” or “Victory in Jesus” type stuff. Faith plays a role every day. Anyone who grew up religious, even if you get away from it, it always comes back to you in some way or form. I try to keep living right every day. Sometimes you don’t do it right, but that is what learning and life is all about.

Q: The audience tonight is filled with young people chasing their dreams. What words of advice can you give them?

A: Don’t mess up (laughing).

Q: That’s good advice.

A: Aim to do something you love and enjoy – that’s really the biggest thing that counts. Money doesn’t buy happiness. It can buy you fun things sometimes, but in the end, if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing… I’ve met a lot of miserable people that don’t like doing what they are doing and that is not a fun place to be. Like I said, I was going to college for something I didn’t want to do and I was miserable. Do something you love. If it’s music, if it’s technology, if it’s being a teacher, whatever it is, do it to the best of your capability. That is how I was brought up.

Phillip-Phillips.013_webQ: Now, “Lopes Up” is a thing we do here at GCU.

A: Is this like a hand signal thing? I saw a billboard about it. I didn’t know if it was a dog or what.

Q: It’s an antelope. If you do this (showing Lopes Up), you’ll connect with the audience right away. That’s my best piece of advice.

A: OK, I get nervous doing interviews — I am nervous right now — but I will try and remember it. My mind starts racing once I get up on stage. I’ll either do it right when I go out, or sometime during the show, when I’m like – “I need to do that.”

Q: I am sure you will see lots of people who will join in. If there are 7,000 people out there, and you do Lopes Up, you’ll get 14,000 hands up in the air. It’s what they teach you Day 1.

A: Sweet… If they are not into the show, I’ll do this (Lopes Up) after every song.

Source/Thanks: GCU Today 

Exclusive Interview with Guitarist Errol Cooney

One of the best things about being a music fan is making discoveries, the way listening to one band leads you to discover another one, and admiring one musician leads you to love another one. So is the case with Phillip Phillips fans, who in the last couple of years have been lucky to be introduced to Errol Cooney, a guitarist and music scene veteran who has quickly become synonymous with Phillips’ wildly diverse sound. From rock, to soul, to jazz and funk, Cooney has done it all, having played small and big stages with artists such as Lalah Hathaway, Christina Aguilera and music giant Stevie Wonder.

As Phillips’ lead guitarist and acoustic guitar duo partner, Cooney brings an incredible range of influences that help him create soulful melodic landscapes around Phillips’ intricate playing and writing. Phillips and Cooney’s collaboration was captured last year in the iTunes Session (a beautiful and raw acoustic album) and more recently on Phillips’ second album, Behind The Light.

Errol Cooney took a few minutes out of his busy touring schedule recently to answer some questions exclusively for PhillPhillcom. Read on to learn about his wide-ranging musical influences, his collaboration with Phillips on Behind The Light, and the one word that may help explain his very cool and chill vibe.

PhillPhillcom: How old were you when you started playing?

Errol Cooney: 12.

PhillPhillcom: Did you always know you wanted to play the guitar? Were your parents supportive of your musical ambitions?

EC: I got interested when I was around 8 or 9 when I saw both of my older brothers, Michael and Brian playing and singing. My parents were very supportive. They are both very creative in their careers; my father is an actor and singer, my mother an actress, singer, pianist and writer.

PhillPhillcom: Who were you major influences or inspiration when you were starting out?

EC: At first classic rock; The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Eagles and Jimi Hendrix. I’ve gotten into all sorts of things since-heavier stuff like Ministry and Sepultura, then Parliament-Funkadelic, Steely Dan, James Brown, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and a million others as I got older. This list could go on forever!

PhillPhillcom: You have performed with some big names in music, including the legendary Stevie Wonder. What was your first big, “I made it” show and was it what you expected it to be?

EC: I don’t think you ever necessarily “make it” but getting to do the Stevie Wonder gig has been pretty special to me. I’ve idolized him since I was very young. The first major tour I did was opening for R. Kelly with a singer named Sunshine Anderson. That was a lot of fun. I don’t believe you can ever stop growing as a musician and become complacent. If you do, it’s time to do something else.

PhillPhillcom: You have also recorded with many other musicians in the studio. Do you consider yourself to be more of a live guitar player or a studio musician? Do you prefer one more than the other?

EC: I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of both and I love doing both. They are amazingly different, especially as recording technology has changed so much over the years. There’s nothing like the rush and energy of playing live with a group of musicians for people that are there sharing that energy with you. And there’s nothing like creating music in the studio with artists, producers and musicians that you hope will stand the test of time. You get to dig through it with a fine-toothed comb and be spontaneous at the same time.

PhillPhillcom: In the last couple of years you have become well known to Phillip Phillips fans as his guitar duo partner and lead guitar player on his band. How did you come to work with Phillip?

EC: I have worked with American Idol as a hired musician for many years. Particularly in the house band for the tour Phillip was on. We started doing radio shows together as a duo at the time and hit it off. We have a good time playing along with the rest of the group. He’s a special talent.

PhillPhillcom: How is it going from a very large band setting (such as when you perform with Stevie Wonder), to essentially a rock band setting as you have in Phillip’s band?

EC: It’s a lot of fun. I love the rawness of Phillip’s project.

PhillPhillcom: The iTunes Session, which you recorded with Phillip last year, is a fans’ favourite; it captures your collaboration with Phillip really well. How was it recording that?

EC: A lot of fun. Very spontaneous. We went in there for a very short amount of time and came out with something I think we are both proud of.

PhillPhillcom: You also got to play on Phillip’s new album Behind The Light. There are so many beautiful guitar moments on this album. Do you have any particular songs from Behind The Light that you loved working on?

EC: “Face” was really cool. I love the writing he did and it’s very minimal live arrangement. There were lots of others I enjoyed a lot- “Fly,” “Trigger,” “Raging Fire” to name a few.

PhillPhillcom: You are setting up to go on tour with Phillip very soon. What are some of your favourite cities or venues to play in?

EC: Vancouver tonight! Austin, Rio, Quebec City, Red Rocks in Colorado, Bay Area, Paris, Amsterdam, I love everywhere I go!!

PhillPhillcom: You have played hundreds of shows through your career, both with Phillip and many other musicians. Do you have any really memorable or favourite performance from past tours?

EC: River Plate stadium in Buenos Aires, Paris with Stevie Wonder, Glastonbury Festival, Bonnaroo, Red Rocks with Phillip, the White House, A Capitol Fourth.

PhillPhillcom: What band or musicians are you into right now that you can’t stop listening to on your iPod?

EC: Radiohead right now as I write this.

PhillPhillcom: The world is ending, you have to save three albums that, if you survive, you will have to live with for the rest of your life. Which ones do you take with you?

EC: Axis: Bold as Love-Jimi Hendrix, Songs in the Key of Life-Stevie Wonder, Abbey Road-The Beatles.

PhillPhillcom: Finally, Errol Cooney in one word:

EC: Sleepy.

Behind The Cover-Exclusive Interview With Behind The Light Designer Rob Carmichael

From optical illusions, to beautiful photo manipulations, to intricate and carefully crafted designs, Artist/Designer Rob Carmichael’s work cannot really be categorized as mainstream. Owner of LA/NY based SEEN Studio and main collaborator with indie band Animal Collective, Carmichael’s designs and album covers trick the eye and engage your mind. Phillip Phillips’ cover art for upcoming sophomore album Behind The Light, designed by Carmichael, is no exception. With its deep colours and multi-layered textures, it seems to point to a new, bolder, more complex direction for Phillip’s music. PhillPhillcom had the great pleasure to talk to Rob Carmichael recently about his work on Behind The Light, the process and inspiration behind his designs and the current state of album cover art. Read our conversation below.

PhillPhillcom: You have worked with many musicians in the past through your work at SEEN, and also through your former record label Catsup Plate. How do you approach the process of designing an album cover and how much does the music play a role in that process?

Rob Carmichael: Well, I always say that I only hear the music about half the time. A lot of times the musicians are still working on the music, or it’s being mastered, or is just not ready yet. So a lot of times I don’t hear the actual music, which is interesting and something a lot of people are surprised to hear. But usually, the process for me is more talking with the musician and trying to see what they think the music is about. Because music is pretty open-ended, so what I think it sounds like and what the artist thinks it sounds like can often be very different. So I find that talking about what they feel is going on is actually the best place to start and even more important than hearing the music.

PhillPhillcom: How did you get to work with Phillip? Did you know his music beforehand or was “Raging Fire” and Behind The Light your first contact with his music?

RC: I didn’t actually follow American Idol that closely–I knew a little bit of the story. I knew some of the bigger singles from the last album because they were everywhere, but I wasn’t super familiar. I have a place that represents me for design work called Probation–they are based in London but they do a lot of work here in the States. They had gotten my portfolio to Interscope and Phillip wanted something different from what had happened before–he didn’t just want a pretty picture of him with type and just call it good–He wanted something a little bit more, and I guess he saw what I did and was interested. But I didn’t have any contact with him until a little bit later in the process.

PhillPhillcom: So how did you get the briefing? Did you have a chance to meet with Phillip to discuss ideas about the design a little bit more?

RC: Initially we worked on a song that did not actually come out [called] “Midnight Sun.” I worked on that first and I heard a very rough [version]. I went for a meeting in LA and Phillip was still in New York working on it and I heard the work in progress at his management company’s office, just to get the feel. But I only heard it once (laughs) and I tried to keep it in mind as best possible. [So] when I was working on “Midnight Sun,” they gave me a bunch of photos of him and they said, “We want you to take this kind of far out.” I said, “OK.” And I’m thinking, “This is American Idol, there is a lot of money at stake, they can’t really mean that” (laughs). So I went back and I did some stuff that I thought was pretty far out there and I sent it in and Phillip and his people said, “No, we thought you were really going to bring this.” Which is funny because a lot of the really out there indie bands that I work with would have been a bit uncomfortable with the stuff I initially sent to Phillip. [But] he and his people were really adventurous and they literally said to push it more, so I said, “There is not going to be much Phillip left if I push it more” and they said, “Great, yes, do it!”  In the end, there is Phillip on all the stuff but it’s just different from what I thought they wanted initially.

PhillPhillcom: How was it working with Phillip?

RC: Once I started to work directly with Phillip, it was great. He was very clear in what he thought, but he was also very open to what I was going to be doing, which is actually rare: a lot of musicians are unclear about what they want, but are very, very specific about how they think I should go about it. So I just explained what I thought and we talked a little bit about how I could do things so that he was there, but not there in a stereotypical pop star kind of way.

phillip-phillips-previews-single-raging-fire

PhillPhillcom: What was the main idea behind the designs for “Raging Fire” and for Behind the Light? For example, the colors used on Behind The Light are quite striking and different from anything around right now, not really on trend. How were the colors chosen?

RC: There are a few things. One, it’s just how I like to work. I like a lot of more bold colors and a lot of texture to things. In terms of the designs and what the inspiration was, I guess a lot of the things I’m interested in are ways to take a photo or an image that exists in the real world and also geometric forms, [and] I like to combine those two things, because, in my mind, the eye tries to make sense of a perfect line and then it hits something that it’s clearly a photo and it gets a little confusing and you are trying to figure it out. So what I try to do is get somebody interested enough to interact with the cover, or even if it’s on a screen, to get them to lean in to try to figure out what’s going on. I’m [also] definitely into reflection because it does a similar thing: is not really possible to have two perfect versions of something. So “Raging Fire” has Phillip reflected and this sort of circular radiant on this textured background. But it didn’t feel very fiery until we found that sort of [radiant] lines. And I try not to be too literal but, in that case, it felt like it needed something sort of fiery. For the colors, I tried to tweak them until I had something that was kind of warm, like glowing or hot.

[For] Behind The Light, around the time that we were talking about it, he was talking about the first video (“Raging Fire”). The day they did the photo shoot for me, was the day they were shooting that video. He had one day off and they did it all together. Phillip initially said he wanted some photos of him being painted for the actual record cover, which I thought was good, but that it would limit it to looking like the single’s video and not the album as whole. So I tried to think painterly and bright as much as possible so that it kind of got that feel without being exactly like the video. So it’s a lot of blues and oranges, this sort of rainbow without being cloying or really cheery. Because some of the songs have a little bit of darkness to them too, so I was trying to get color in without it being overly happy–just trying to do something interesting.  

PhillPhillcom: If we look in detail, the background for Behind the Light looks paint-like, or like splatters of paint on a canvas…

RC: Most of the images that I used were from the photo shoot. The photographer did a great job, and what he did the best was to take pictures of things that most people wouldn’t think were worth taking pictures of. So the background there was just after Phillip had gotten up from being painted, there was just what was left over. I thought, “This is great!” because I’m not a painter and I can’t draw or paint. But here it was, this very painterly texture to use and it was perfect. Same thing for the picture of Phillip on the cover. He had taken a lot of really great posed shots, but that shot, it was actually Phillip warming up. The rest of the photo you can see the van is behind him and they were going to the shoot and he was literally just getting off or getting on the van and it seems like he was tuning his guitar. And it wasn’t something that anybody would think to take a picture of. But it was really this great composition, and then when I made it black and white, it felt very dramatic. So that’s the sort of thing I was looking for–that sort of, off-the-cuff, Phillip not quite looking directly at the camera–that seemed more in the spirit of how he likes to present himself.

Phillip-Phillips-Fly-iTunes

PhillPhillcom: Apart from the cover art for “Raging Fire” and for Behind The Light, a new cover has been circulating in the last couple of weeks for another song called “Fly,” and it’s quite different from the other two; very abstract, reminiscent of 1970’s classic rock album covers. Did you also work on that?

RC: Yes, I did that one too. I was just trying to push things more and Phillip thought of that song, as he put it, as a little bit different from everything else. Initially, I did some things that were fairly close to the themes of the album. But he felt that [the song] was different enough. It was funny, because that one was something that I started working on, trying to fit a picture of him and it wasn’t really working and I was kind of frustrated. So I started to mess around and it started to come together and I thought, “I just throw it in there, I’m sure everybody will think it’s ridiculous, he’s not even on it.” But then, that’s the one Phillip chose. Normally record labels really want to be involved in the decisions about the artwork, but for Interscope, it was really whatever Phillip wanted and felt was appropriate as long as it had the title and the name on there. So Phillip liked that one and said, “Oh, that’s it.”

Phillip-Phillips-Fly

PhillPhillcom: So far, looking at the “Raging Fire,” “Fly” and the Behind The Light covers, there seems to be a theme going of the double and mirror or crisscrossing images. Is this something you brought into the design? Or is this something that Phillip talked about or that is present on the album in some way?

RC: Again, I didn’t get to hear the album. I got to read the lyrics–actually–I think I got to read the lyrics after the front cover was kind of decided. But I think the geometry and the mirror theme was coming from me. So Phillip didn’t say specifically that, but him being present on the cover was something that everybody felt made sense. So it was just ways to show him or put a piece of him there without doing this pretty, glamour thing, but to do something that felt artistic and interesting and that made people work a little bit–not in a bad way–it’s just more fun if you have to figure out that it’s mirrored or you can’t totally tell what’s going on. Because the way I still think of designing art for music and the way I listen to records is, I put on the record and then I look at the cover and try to figure it out. That doesn’t happen as much anymore with digital stuff, but I do think that, for people that do want to engage in that way, it’s good to give them something to really think about or look at.

PhillPhillcom: Phillip has talked about how fast the song “Raging Fire” came about and was selected as the first single for the album. How much time did you have to make the “Raging Fire” cover art? What about for Behind The Light?

RC: Yeah, I only had a few days to do it. [For] “Raging Fire” I had 3 or 4 days; it was definitely fast. But I tend to work fast because I have a kind of process where I just basically have to block out the time to mess around until things start gelling. Behind The Light–I like that a little bit more than “Raging Fire” and I think it’s because I had a little bit more time to work on it and tweak it. Not that “Raging Fire” is bad, but there are some subtleties to Behind The Light that are stronger and it’s just because I had more time to work on it.

PhillPhillcom: Did you have to show Phillip many different designs before he approved the final art, or did he approve the first mock-up?

RC: I think for the first single there were probably about 10 different concepts that I sent. For the album there were about 6 or 7 ideas and initially the first version of what you see, Phillip didn’t like and I liked a lot, but it wasn’t as fully formed as it is now. So I took it upon myself to work on it more because I thought there was something there and then it got to the point where he did like it. And then it came down to Phillip deciding between two covers that he was stuck on which direction he would go.

PhillPhillcom: Nowadays, most people download music instead of buying a CD or a record. What do you think is the state of the album cover today?

RC: I think it’s still pretty essential. I think a lot less effort and time is put into the visuals by a lot of artists and a lot of record labels because you can get away with not doing it so well and maybe, if it’s a good song, it will still sell really well. What album art does, is start you on road to understanding the record before you hear it. If the Phillip Phillips’s cover was just black text on a white background and it said “Phillip Phillips Behind The Light,” it’s harder to know where to start with that. But as it is now, you have this very colorful, complicated image and hopefully that colors the way you are going to listen to the record. But it can be a tough business sometimes these days because a lot of people think you don’t need it. But I think having that visual connected to it, it locks it in people’s mind in a different way that if it is just boring or a throw away. If you think of the [records] that are so lodged in your brain, most of the ones that are meaningful have some of visual to start with that it’s meaningful to people.

PhillPhillcom: The other side of that is that people manipulate images so easily online today. For example, as soon as the covers for RF and BTL were announced, fans took to them and used them for their Twitter or Facebook accounts, even deconstructing the images for their profiles to show their support and to promote the album.  How do you feel about that? 

RC: There is another much smaller band I work with called Animal Collective. They have a very dedicated fan base–really enthusiastic and they do a lot of the same things. To me it reminds me, in a digital way, of something I used do when I was a kid. Which was that I would buy Rolling Stone and cut up photos of the bands or the album and put it on my wall or tape it down on my school binder. It’s kind of a natural human thing to want to participate as much as possible or in some small way in something you love or are passionate about. So if people are so interested in what it looks like and what I have done and they want to do something for themselves, I think it’s great.

PhillPhillcom: Will there be more of your work included on Behind The Light and what can we expect to see?

RC: Yes, I did everything in the CD, the typesetting, everything. I think some of the themes you see on the cover kind of continue through the rest of it. I tried to make it feel like a world as much as possible, so there is a lot more of the geometry, there are some more photos, things are less centrally laid-out. I have a very straight forward type of graphic style, I don’t like to cram songs really small, so I tried to put things as they are and let them overlap. There are some other great photos of Phillip that if you knew where I pulled them from, there are not the ones anyone would normally use, especially not on an American Idol competitor. They would want something very polished, airbrushed. [But] he’s very much about showing himself as he is and I just wanted to emphasize that as much as possible.

PhillPhillcom: Finally, what is the coolest design you did for Behind The Light?

RC: I think my heart is with the front cover. I think some ways that the lyrics are interacting with the colors plus the photos in interesting ways is cool. But my heart is really on the cover, and the rest of the art is there to support that strong image.

Follow Rob on twitter @seenstudio
Portfolio: www.seenstudio.com

Exclusive interview with cellist Dave Eggar

You may think you don’t know Dave Eggar, cellist, composer and arranger, but if you listen to music at all, you probably have heard the sound of his cello at some point in your life. That’s because Dave Eggar is an extremely busy and prolific musician who has worked with numerous artists across many genres and styles, from classical, to world music, to rock, including recording and performing with bands such as Coldplay and Pearl Jam and a long time collaboration with Evanescence’s Amy Lee.

Fans of Phillip Phillips best know him as the creator of the beautiful cello and string arrangements on Phillip’s first album The World From The Side Of The Moon and as one third of Phillip’s wonderful acoustic trio. PhillPhillcom had the pleasure to interview Dave Eggar recently to talk about his inspiration and evolution as an artist, his collaboration on Phillip’s upcoming album Behind The Light and life as musician on tour. Check our interview below.

PhillPhill.com: We know you started playing music at a very young age. How did you start and when did you realize the cello would be the instrument for you?

Dave Eggar: I started playing the cello when I was 6 years old! It’s kind of a funny story. My mother really wanted me to be a concert violinist, so she enrolled me in those Suzuki violin classes for kid–you know–the ones where you march around holding the violin and play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”! Well I really hated it–so I smashed my violin (I know it’s immature)!  For Christmas that year my mother bought me a cello and I took to it right away–it was kind of weird–it just fit me. Six months later I was playing the Brahms sonatas.

PhillPhill.com: Throughout your career you have worked with an incredible amount of musicians and artists in many different mediums and genres. Can you share a little about your evolution and inspiration as an artist?

DE: Until I was 21 I didn’t play any music except for classical–my whole family was classical musicians. However I was always improvising and writing songs. When I was a teenager I started to fall in love with rock music–especially Nirvana and Pearl Jam which became a major influence on my musical development. In my early 20’s I started to become fascinated with the use of the cello in other music.  The cello is like a huge bowed fretless guitar–and I found very quickly that I loved the idea of re-imagining the instruments in different styles (jazz, rock, Persian music, South-East Asian folk music).  Pretty soon I was on tour–even with some of my heroes–and I kind of didn’t look back!

Phillip Phillips @ Barclays Center Brooklyn, NY

PhillPhill.com: How did you get to work with Phillip for the first time? Can you tell us a little bit about your collaboration on Phillip’s first album, The World From The Side Of The Moon?

DE: I first met Phillip through his producer Gregg Wattenberg. Gregg is an incredible producer of pop music-and I have worked for him on many projects. Phillip and I just started jamming at the beginning of the first session–and I don’t know, it just clicked [and] we just kept playing. He’s my musical brother in a lot of ways. I loved his music immediately and found a voice for the cello in it right away. The first album was made very quickly (in about a month) and we all worked around the clock–it was a really amazing adventure.

PhillPhill.com: What do you look for in a song or a piece of music, either as a listener or as a musician? What is it about Phillip’s music that makes you want to play with him?

DE: I care about the story and the depth of emotion in a song. I also care about clarity of execution and intellectual detail in playing. I also love music that pulls together influences you would not normally find together. I really dig Phillip’s guitar patterns and melodies.  I feel they have both directness and sophistication. I also love the emotional diversity of his songs and the tremendous dynamic of the live show–it’s rare that you will have an artist with a fragile acoustic song like “A Fool’s Dance” in the same show with an epic pop hit like “Raging Fire” and a rocking cover of “Thriller.” His shows keep us on our toes technically and I like that.

PhillPhill.com: Phillip’s second album, Behind The Light, is coming out in just a few weeks. How much did you get to play on this album? Can you walk us through the process of creating the cello or string arrangements for a song?

DE: Much like the first album, the process was very organic and very fast paced. I am really excited about the strings on the record (there are strings on most of the songs), as we were able to create a powerful diversity–some songs have a full rich orchestral arrangement (like “Raging Fire”) others are quirky and cool with an almost jazz or gypsy type use of the cello. Many times we would come back to a song a number of times tweaking it over and over till the parts were just perfect.

PhillPhill.com: How would you say this new album is different musically from The World From The Side Of The Moon? Did you approach your work differently this time? What is your favourite song that you got to work on in the album?

DE: I loved working on “Raging Fire”–and also some of the more striped down acoustic songs. I like “Face” a lot. It was great working on this album because I have done hundreds of shows with Phillip since the first album and I felt I understood his message and style much more. It was personally a very important album for me for that reason as well.

PhillPhill.com: The string arrangement on the album’s first single, “Raging Fire,” is beautiful and quite prominent. How did the strings came to be such an important part of the song?

DE: It was Gregg’s idea (and a brilliant one). We found a perfect blend of violins and cello that are reminiscent of Gustav Holst and Elgar–there was a moment where we found the perfect sound–you know when everyone looks at each other with a smile in the studio. I’m really excited about how that track turned out.

PhillPhill.com: You are a very busy musician, but fans were lucky to see you on the road with Phillip during his college tour last year. You have also played numerous shows with Phillip and Errol Cooney as part of an acoustic trio. How do you approach these two settings? Does your playing and arrangements change when playing with a full band?

DE: We are always playing. While we don’t rehearse all the time, we are always jamming on the bus, in the hotel, etc. The trio is a lot of fun because there is so much freedom. Errol is pretty much the best guitar player I have ever played with so I love when the three of us get to really stretch out. Full bands rock though, and that is tremendous fun!

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PhillPhill.com: The video for “Where We Came From” was shot during the band’s stop at the Alaska State Fair last summer. How was it to record the music video for this song, in particular the “trio” version of the video?

DE: Haha—it was COLD!  But a lot of fun. When we recorded on the mountain it was also very, very windy and the cello almost blew off the side of the cliff. The show itself was magical though–so many awesome fans and an unbelievable setting.

PhillPhill.com: Phillip’s shows are known for having a good amount of jamming and for their display of excellent musicianship. How much do you get to practice as a band before a tour or before a show? How much of what happens on stage is improvised and how much is rehearsed?

DE: We are always rehearsing. We set aside time before the tours for more structured rehearsals, but also, since Phillip does different groups of songs each night, we are always doing touch-up rehearsals on the bus, and trying new things at sound check. Some of the new songs emerged from things Phillip would teach us at sound check and then over months they developed into the new songs. It’s a very organic process.

PhillPhill.com: What song do you most like to play with Phillip? Among your performances, which one is the most memorable and why?

DE: I like all the songs, but some of my favorite to play are “Hold On,” “Tell Me a Story,” “Where We Came From,” and “A Fool’s Dance.” I feel I really connect to these songs and they have really challenging and fun cello parts. It was really amazing playing “A Fool’s Dance” at the Hollywood Bowl last summer. I had played the second to last concert of Michael Brecker, who was my teacher and mentor, on that stage and it was very meaningful for me to play on that stage with Phillip a song that meant a lot to me.

PhillPhill.com: We read recently that you play the Bach cello suites almost every day. Is this part of your daily practice or part of a special ritual for you? Do you have any special rituals or things you do before a show to get ready?

DE: I really love to practice classical music–I do it every day and it is really grounding for me; I love the balance and the subtlety of detail. It makes it easy for me to play all the other styles I play. I also am really into Karate, so sometimes I will do a Kata before going on stage. I also eat a lot of chocolate, which probably isn’t a good thing haha.

PhillPhill.com: Do you have any funny or interesting stories about life on tour with Phillip? What do you like to do on your days off when you are not playing or practicing?

DE: Man–we have a great time–we’re kind of like a family. It’s always fun. Phillip is a really down-to-earth guy, so it’s a great hang.  We’ve finished a lot of video games on the bus too haha.

PhillPhill.com:  We know you will be performing with your band Deoro in May. Will you be joining Phillip on his tour this summer?

DE:  Yes, I will be touring with my own band in May with a collaboration we do with this really cool dance company called Hammerstep which fuses Irish Step dance and hip hop and then I will join Phillip in June for the tour with O.A.R. which will be awesome!!!

PhillPhill.com: You are an amazingly prolific artist and a huge inspiration to many other musicians. Do you have any tips or advice for beginning music students?

DE: Thanks so much for your kind statement.  You always have to follow your dreams and be persistent no matter what anyone says. A lot of teachers told me the way I played the cello was different and strange and wouldn’t work. There was one very old teacher, Ardyth Alton, who was the person who accepted me into Juilliard when I was 9. I saw her years later when she was in her 90’s–she said: “Thank you for being different–I always knew you would be the one who would make a difference for the instrument.” There is really room for all artists, you just have to find your own way home, so to speak.

image2 5833b3a4974511e3becb129ac153a6d5_8 Phillip Phillips @ Barclays Center Brooklyn, NY Screen-Shot-2013-11-04-at-12.53.14-PM Phillip Phillips @ Barclays Center Brooklyn, NY BfQkkSdCAAIHbFr 10175246_550698128377426_999106932_n phillipphillips-qvc Phillip Phillips @ Barclays Center Brooklyn, NY

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