a, Arts & Entertainment

An eclectic phaeleh

Under the stage name Phaeleh, Bristol-native Matt Preston creates and performs electronic music of an indeterminate genre. Also indeterminate, for some, is the pronunciation of his stage name. Matt corrected my initial pronunciation of Phaeleh to “fella,” although he added, “I did not have a certain pronunciation in mind when I created the name, I just liked the shape of the letters. The visual balance and the combination of letters and ideas spoke to me.”

Though Tides, Phaeleh’s most recent album, was released to mostly positive reviews, Preston downplayed the importance of critical acclaim.

“I’m glad my fan-base likes the album because that’s who I make the music for. If some critics don’t give it a good review that’s fine; they probably would never like my style of music [anyway].”

Preston’s music does challenge definitions of several genres within the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) umbrella. It could technically be labelled ambient dubstep, but with the direction dubstep has taken in the past several years, that classification may give the wrong impression. “I struggle as much as journalists do to describe it,” admits Preston. “Chilled electronic music with quite a bit of emotion is the closest I can come [to a precise definition].”

Each track on Tides varies in construction; some use dub-inspired beats while others seem more akin to trance. Additionally, a few tracks prominently feature vocals from frequent collaborator Soundmouse and other vocalists. The combination works, providing an album that keeps the surprises coming until the last song.

Perhaps Phaeleh’s music is so unique because he does not have a concrete mindset while creating each track. When he sits down to work, he lets his present mood dictate the song he works on; whether his day has been full of joy or pain, he makes sure to imbue each song with its own moody edge. This provides the emotional connection fans feel to his music, eliciting atypically powerful responses at shows. Due to the variety in sound, Phaeleh’s music draws out different audiences at each show. He enjoys seeing how new cities respond to his music and catering his set to the crowds’ mood of the night. Some crowds simply want to dance and yell and jump around whereas others find his music therapeutic and find essential meaning in the sound. He finds improvisation to be critical when performing: “I don’t want to play songs no one will like.”

When asked about the recent drug-related tragedy at Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in New York, Preston says that he feels great sympathy towards all affected, but does not agree that EDM as a genre should be punished for the mistakes of a few. The opinion many people are forming of EDM fans is unjust, according to Preston.

“Some may enjoy drug use but many more find meaning in the music sober. Nobody should need drugs to enjoy this music.”

Though Phaeleh’s music is all over the place in the subgenres of electronica, his heart certainly seems to be in the right place. He may be on the way to bigger things,  but we shouldn’t worry about him forgetting those who helped him get there: his fans.

Phaeleh will perform at Le Belmont (4483 St. Laurent) with opening act Shigeto and Beacon on Sept. 14 at 10 p.m. Admission is $12.

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  1. Fantastic analysis of a diffuse and expanding concept of sound/emotion/marketing

  2. Fantastic analysis of a diffuse and expanding concept of sound/emotion/marketing


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