“Where was I? I was many places. I was mothering. I was studying. I was travelling”: In an Exclusive Interview, PHY reflects on her time away, a new EP & her inspirations.
In this captivating interview, PHY takes us on a journey through her music hiatus sharing insights on her creative process and growth, shedding light on the intricate web of experiences that have shaped her new music.
From a season of rest and raising children to exploring new sounds, PHY’s authenticity remains steadfast, serving as a guiding force in her artistic evolution. As she unveils her EP, “Tatu,” PHY’s commitment to fostering deeper connections with her fans shines through, offering a unique blend of thought-provoking lyrics and vibrant melodies.
With resilience and a renewed perspective, PHY’s comeback marks the beginning of a new chapter, one where she invites her audience to join her in the exploration of life’s profound complexities and meaningful moments.
Nzyoka: Where were you?
PHY: Where was I? I was in many places. I was mothering, studying creative entrepreneurship and travelling. I went to the University of Ideas in Italy on a scholarship. I kept performing too with a notable performance being in Italy where I performed for the pope. I largely worked as a talent executive at Kenya’s biggest talent agency, Africa Centric Entertainment. This was founded by Marek, who was Sauti Sol’s former manager.
N: What inspired you to make your comeback after your hiatus?
P: I would say music never really leaves you. I think once an artist, you always stay one. No matter how far you go away from this gift that God’s given you, you always find yourself coming back to it. Luckily I was never too far from music. I was in a season of growing my career from a back end approach learning the vast nature of the entertainment industry. I dipped my toes in event planning, talent management and project management between brands and creatives. I was also in a season of rest, taking time to raise my young children. When it was time, I felt ready to get back to releasing music again.
N: How has your personal growth and experiences during your break influenced your new music?
P: Obviously, a hiatus does wonders for an artist. Ed Sheeran and Adele are examples of artists who take long-stretched hiatuses. The time off allowed me to be and to discover myself. I feel fresh and with a lot to share now. When people enjoy your music they keep demanding for more. As an artist, however, you have to live out life first so that it inspires and helps you paint a picture of life to others.
N: Can you share some details about the creative process behind your latest single?
P: 14U was a very easy song to record. It is one of the fastest songs I’ve ever written. I went into the studio where I work with my producer, Hendrix. A lot of our sessions start with a deep conversation about a topic. We were talking about love and that proceeded to us creating and finishing the song in the same session.
N: So, what is the meaning of 14U, I saw on Instagram you were concerned fans were not interpreting it correctly?
P: The song basically describes a strong attraction that you feel for a person. However, you are applying caution because you aren’t ready to jump into a new relationship just yet. You are probably taking time to work on yourself to find healing so that you don’t bleed on your new person. You hope that the person will wait for you and when you are ready you will be the one for them.
N: What can fans expect from your new material?
P: My understanding of life and my gift is clearer so my fans should expect a more vocal and bolder PHY, someone who’s a thought leader. I want to initiate and moderate conversations around our daily experiences by helping people process collective and individual issues. I’d love for my music to lead people into spaces of healing so that they live intentional lives while injecting health into the spaces they exist in.
N: Can you describe the emotions you experienced when releasing new music after such a long break?
P: Yoh! This was amazing. You pray for something for a long time, and then it finally happens. When it does, it’s surreal! I am grateful but also aware that this is just the beginning. It’s like building a new house. After all the hard work your house is complete, but then there is the responsibility to maintain it. I am ready to give my all and to push myself to my optimum potential.
N: What are your aspirations and goals for this new phase of your music career?
P: I want to reactivate my brand to a level where it’s locally respectable and internationally exportable. I’ve been known to play a lot of foreign festivals, especially in Europe, so I want to do more of that and keep exporting our Kenyan sound. I think there’s a serious hunger for African music and content so we have a window to supply our unique culture to the world. Burna Boy has exceeded the title of African artist to an international superstar. That’s where I want to go.
Through my music I want to create a safe space for my fans. My songs will allow people to think, to process, to feel, and to walk in this world with more boldness and more security in themselves.
N: Are there any artists or musicians who have influenced your comeback and new music?
P: Obviously, Sauti Sol are the blueprint for a lot of us musicians because of the heights they’ve reached. They are the biggest exportable brand we’ve ever had as a country. Nyashinski is another one, I have so much love for him. There are artists close to me like Wangechi, Bensoul, Ayrosh and Watendawili who inspire me everyday. I saw Wangechi work really hard to have her own comeback.
N: How have your fans supported you during your break and what message do you have for them now that you’re back with new music?
P: Gosh, my fans are the best! The absolute best. My name for them is the Phylosophers. First, they gave me the fire to come back by always asking where I was. I would just be randomly going about my day and then people would send me conversations happening on Twitter of people asking for me. I just want to say thank you to my fans, really. I’m very grateful. I’m glad that they held up and they never forgot. Two, I want them to know that the music I am making is from a very pure place and that I have a genuine care for them. I believe my music to be a gift from God and I want to really use this as a tool by which people will be touched.
N: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or collaborations fans can look forward to?
P: I’m dropping an EP in a few weeks called TATU. The EP has three songs with thematic topics meant to start conversations around cyberbullying, the joys and challenges of parenting as well as people leaving their loved ones in this tough economy to find a better life outside the country. I think these topics are apt with the current challenges we face as a country. There has been a lot of cyberbullying directed towards personalities like Azziad. Our young women keep going to the middle east to look for work while travel agencies are charging hefty sums to people searching for a better life in places like Canada. We are fighting hard economic times for ourselves, our children and families. A lot of music won’t touch deeply on these realities and that’s exactly what I am going to do. While I was away, I’ve also been experimenting with new sounds, so each of the songs sound very different from each other. I’m excited for this release. Share the music when you listen to it, vibe and TikTok to it. Do whatever you want with the music but most importantly let’s get it out there!