The latest single Shine On from the upcoming album Chasing The Sun is a funk testament to positivity and strength. The new tune features rising Australian star Thandi Phoenix who we caught up with from her home in Sydney to talk music, how she connected with Sola Rosa and how she’s adjusting to the new normal…
What got you into music?
Growing up I was surrounded by music at home and encouraged to play instruments, perform and see live music. I first started on the clarinet and then found my voice and picked up the guitar. I went to a performing arts High School in Sydney and it was a very encouraging environment to be creative and to express oneself through the arts. Though it wasn’t until I left high school that I decided I wanted to pursue music as a career.
How did you get to where you are now as an artist?
Through lots of trial and error lol lots of experimenting, lots of writing, collaborating with different people, performing, listening to different artists, styles, genres and finding different ways to express myself.
What are your musical influences and how have they shaped who you are now as an artist?
I’ve got a big old pot of influences that have surely made me the artist I am today. Growing up my mum played a lot of Afro Latin & Salsa, Bossa Nova a wide variety of African music. My father loved listening to the Jazz greats like Miles Davis, & Coltrane, Stimela, Nina Simone & Roberta Flack. As a kid born in the 90s I was blasting girl groups like the Spice Girls, Destinys Child, I loved pop, r&b and Jamiroquai. When I picked up a guitar in year 8 I fell in love with Amy Winehouse and learnt to play by figuring out her songs. Towards my final years in high school, I was listening to a lot Neo-Soul artists like Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Jill Scott and I really loved 90s hip hop so J Dilla & A Tribe Called Quest were on heavy rotation.
I met some jazz musicians when I left school and while learning some jazz standards to jam with I couldn’t get enough of Billie Holiday and her unique approach and tone. In about 2014 I went to see Disclosure perform in Melbourne and that was definitely a turning point for me and my sound. I started listening to more electronic, dance and house music so naturally, I started experimenting with it and I released my first single in 2015. Since then I’ve continued to experiment with music, collaborate with different people and that has pushed me to be the artist I am today. I believe I will forever push myself sonically in new and different ways to how I have before, but that’s what’s so exciting about music, you create your own rules.
More recently disco & funk has been getting me through lockdown. I’ve been listening to Evelyn Champagne King, CHIC, Patrice Rushen, Curtis Mayfield and Roy Ayers to name a few. So I’ve been cooking some ideas with those inspirations in mind. Truth is there’s so much good music in the world, so I’ll forever be listening to music that excites me and if something connects with me, it can spark inspiration in its own unique way.
How did you and Andrew meet?
We met at a studio in Marrickville. I think he said it was a publisher who put my name forward as a suggestion to work with him while he was in Sydney. He reached out to my manager and I was asked if I wanted to have a session. As soon as I listened to his stuff I was so down to collaborate. He sent me over some of his beats prior to the session and I was loving what I heard, So when we met on the day of our session I knew there was some magic waiting to happen
Have you spent any time in New Zealand touring or as a visitor, if so what were your highlights?
Yea I actually have family that live in Hawkes Bay. I visited there last in 2018 for my sisters wedding, we travelled to Waimara and stayed at a gorgeous beachfront house there for the weekend. I then went back and stayed with them in Raukawa Valley and they showed me around. A highlight was definitely when we went to Blackburn and I got to see one of my favourite live bands once again, Fat Freddys Drop. NZ is so lovely though, real nice relaxed energy there and such a beautiful landscape, Id love to come back to explore some more and do shows for sure!
How has the COVID pandemic impacted your career?
The pandemic’s really shaken things up. I remember in March once the restrictions were put into place, I pretty much lost all my work overnight. Cancellation after cancellation, the diary was completely wiped of shows and with how music is consumed nowadays, artists and bands rely so heavily on live shows to make a living, so that was a massive change to adjust to. On top of that, I had some writing trips planned that obviously had to be cancelled. So it feels like so much has been put on hold, but we’re all in the same boat! What I’ve found to be cool is the way we’ve been able to adapt. I’ve been doing a lot more sessions remotely, I even did a songwriting mentorship and I love that I’ve still been able to put music out through this period so it’s not all doom and gloom but I cannnotttttt wait to perform in front of a live audience again, it’s definitely what I miss the most!
What projects do you have on the horizon?
Well I’ve been working on a bunch of new material lately that I’m very excited to finish off and share with everyone. It’s been a tough year and music has helped me through some really difficult periods recently so I’m really looking forward to offering something positive back into the world and hopefully spread some joy to other people with the gift of music