Musician Phil King is a real success story from Farnham’s music scene. Having attended South Farnham Primary and Weydon School, Phil has gone on to become an incredibly popular musician in his new hometown of Bristol, winning multiple awards and performing sell out performances at venues across the South West.
His beautiful songcraft spread to a wider audience when Bristol Old Vic asked him to compose the music for their breathtaking 2014 production of Jane Eyre which later transferred to the National Theatre and was broadcast around the world. He is now one of the go to musicians for a whole host of new West End productions but has still found time to write a new solo album which he is touring the country with including coming to Farnham Maltings on Fri 17 June.
Despite his phenomenally busy schedule, Phil still found time to catch up with us ahead of his performance later this month.
What got you into music?
My parents played music a lot when I was a kid, they took me to see Eric Clapton when I was 12. Just after that I started playing guitar and I was hooked. Through Clapton I learned all about old American blues artists like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, BB King and Ray Charles. Then my older brother got into some heavier stuff, from Led Zep, The Who, The Kinks to AC/DC and Metallica and I got into rock. Then when I was at College, a friend of mine who played sax introduced me to Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and convinced me to join the college jazz band. After that I just listened to as much of everything as I could.
Who or what kind of music inspires your own?
I can and can be inspired by anything and everything. Musically I guess, its more often other artists doing a similar kind of thing to me (loosely, acoustic folk/rock/blues/country) so Bob Dylan, The Band, Neil Young, Ryan Adams etc. But I can also get really fired up listening to Nick Cave or Tom Waits. Lyrically, it can be other songwriters, but more likely novels, poetry, films and conversations. Its like a certain theme or idea gathers weight from different sources until it breaks through a threshold and makes its way into my own thoughts and writing.
Who are your favourite artists out there right now?
To name a few, AA Bondy, Conor Oberst and Brighteyes, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Fionn Regan, Sharon Van Etten, Ezra Furman……..
Other than your solo act, what other projects have your worked on recently?
Lots of theatre stuff. I composed the score for a production of To Kill A Mockingbird, which opened at Regents Park Open Air Theatre then toured and ended up doing 6 weeks at The Barbican. Then I performed in a production of Jane Eyre at The Bristol Old Vic and The National Theatre. Then I composed the music for a show called All The Ghosts Walk With Us alongside writer Chris Fogg and dancer Laila Diallo.
Do you prefer creating music for your own performances or for the stage?
Both are great. Composing for thetare is great because you are often given a structured brief which can be very freeing. I wrote the music for a show called Gods Garden where I had to go and study Fado and Madeiran folk music to discover the vocabulary of my composition, which was really fun. I would never have explored Fado in that way otherwise. Also, getting to work with Directors, Designers, Movement directors, actors etc and being part of a big team is really inspiring. Having said all that, writing and performing my own songs which are usually very personal reflections of my experiences is the best!
Can you give us a little insight into your upcoming album ‘The Wreckage’? How is it different from your previous work?
It feels ‘better’ to me, like I have found a stronger identity as a songwriter. I think lyrically, in terms of the subject matter its more interesting. Also, it was recorded with the band live together in Real World Studios Wood Room, so it sounds more organic I think. Sonically there is a slightly more country/americana vibe to it than previous recordings
How has your tour been going? Where else are you looking forward to performing at?
Tour is going great thanks. I am doing some solo, some as a duo and some full band and really enjoying the variety. Looking forward to playing at Bath Chapel Arts Centre, its a beautiful venue. In the autumn I am going back to play in Copenhagen, which is a beautiful city, so I am really looking forward to that too