Beth Gibbons, Nina Simone, Lana Del Ray, Josephine Philip
Kevin Cook

Q&A with charming psychedelic pop singer Josephine Philip

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 Image credit: Fryd Frydendahl

A  captivatingly cheeky track, singer Josephine Philip track The Clue’ addressed the cracks in the modern dating world. Inspired by iconic vocalists like Nina Simone and Nancy Sinatra, Josephine Philip charms us with her retro-fied and polished sound. Inspired by all forms of truthful expression like film, literature, art, Josephine hones this creative fuel and channels it into her sound. The Clue’ is a bewitching pop song that feels somewhat lullaby-esque but nothing short of engaging with Jospehine’s nightingale-like vocals. ‘The Clue’ will have you wanting to have your heart broken so you can listen to it on repeat.

We chatted more with the up-and-coming singer Josephine Philip below.

Stream / Download ‘The Clue’

Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

I think one of the wildest entries is when I found out that I could actually sing. When I was 14 I started playing guitar. My teacher thought it would be good for me to sing while I was playing. I knew that I could hit a note, but I didn’t really know that I actually had a voice. My teacher was quite stunned when I started singing, and from that day everything kind of changed.

Please tell us more about how your latest song was conceived.

‘The Clue’ is the second single from my forthcoming debut solo album. I call it a contemporary love song. It revolves around impossible love, but also the acceptance of this impossible love. 

The track is an homage to Nina Simone’s version of Billie Holiday’s song ‘Don’t Explain’. I simply love that song. And I love the way that Nina Simone sings it, it almost sounds like a lullaby even though it’s a song of infidelity. ‘The Clue’ is also an inspirational tribute to the great women, their sound, storytelling, and courage, that took me to the microphone and stage before me.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

I have been in bands over the years, and I am still a part of Darkness Falls. A couple of years ago I could just feel an urge, I wanted to make a solo album. I have never had the need before, but all of a sudden I could feel a burning wish. I spent a long time finding out what it should be and sound like, I wrote a ton of songs but I couldn’t quite find my path. I’ve had many lonely days in my studio because I was so focused on trying to write and produce everything on my own. I felt I had to shift my focus. I missed collaborating and sharing with others, other than myself. I decided that even though I was writing songs for my solo project it didn’t have to be in solitude. One day through a mutual friend I met up with Lasse Martinussen who I had worked with before (he produced an album for my band Darkness Falls). We decided to do a session with no expectations, other than letting whatever happens happen. We decided that we wanted to try and write something new. The process of writing together felt so natural and effortless.We wrote a new song every time we met in the studio. It was a match made in heaven, and since that day we have been working together.

Your new single is an empowering tribute that pays homage to Nina Simone’s classic rendition of the Billie Holiday hit ‘Don’t Explain’, which talks about infidelity. What inspired you to celebrate women’s stories with this new track?

I have been on quite a journey. I had a couple of years where I wasn’t even sure I wanted to make music anymore. I just didn’t feel it, and I couldn’t figure out where I belonged. I started singing jazz with my amazing friend Lennart who is twice my age, with who I had sung with many times before. I dived into all these old jazz songs that I had heard so many times before, but all of a sudden they gave me another meaning, and I felt something when I made my own interpretations of the songs. It turned on something in me because I love singing so much. Therefore there is something very special to me about some of the great singers – such as Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Nancy Sinatra, and also more contemporary singers as Lana Del Ray or pop icon Billie Ellish. They tell a story and they move and inspire me in such a way that it seems like life or death. I think they are all women who contributed and contribute with something unique and that needs to be celebrated. 

How much do you invest in how your music is received upon release?

When it comes to my art and writing music I don’t compromise, that is super important for me, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense for me to create music. I do hope people will like my music and feel something when they listen to it, but I try not to think too much about how it will be received, but just enjoy the process.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

I once got a message through our fan page with my band Darkness Falls. It was from a woman who had recently lost someone very close to her. She wrote us and wanted to thank us because one of our songs made her come through a very had time. I think that was quite special, and it made me very proud.

Are there any key non-musical influences on your sound and creative process?

Yes. I get very inspired by many other forms of expression. Art, films, literature, and also my surroundings.

What advice would you give someone who doesn’t feel appreciated in the relationship they are in? 

‘The Clue’ is inspired by the song ‘Don’t Explain’. The way Nina Simone interprets it sounds almost like a lullaby to me even though the lyrics revolve around how her man has been unfaithful. She sings it so calming. The way I hear it she kind of feels pity for the man – and she tells him to drop the excuses and take responsibility. Don’t explain the clue – I got it! 

‘The Clue’ is not about infidelity, but about being so much in love that it is impossible to walk away from that love even though you know it’s not the best for you – you just don’t care. And it’s kind of empowering to surrender to this love even though it seems hopeless at the same time. My advice to someone who doesn’t feel appreciated in a relationship is plain and simple, to take responsibility for themselves. You can’t control what others do to you, but you can try in the best way possible to control how you act. Stand up for yourself.  

Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects, DJ mixes or collaborations in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

Well, my forthcoming album will come out in spring 2022, and I must say that I am very excited about this.

Famous last words?

Hope to see you around 🙂

‘The Clue’ features on the Spotify playlist

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