DJ Q/A with PHI

June 9, 2013 in DJs, Words by Mark Vicente

PHIPatrick Haggart, goes by the name PHI and is an electronic music producer and founder of PHI Sounds Record Label and PHI Sounds EDU that specializes in music production, in particular, Ableton. Check him out on his links below! Here’s what PHI had to say:

What inspires you about being a DJ / Producer?

What inspires me most about music production in the 21st century is that as an individual, I now have access to tools to fully express myself musically, utilizing the sounds and instruments of the past; yet I am free to create totally new sound textures never heard before. I don’t have to necessarily rely on band members or cultivate an entire orchestra to write and produce music. Although I do appreciate the quality of real instruments and the human element of live recorded instrumental sound, and strive to bring those elements into my music; I’m not limited by it. It’s exciting that I can sit down and quite literally transcribe the music and sounds of my imagination into a song in a matter of hours or days, with little more than headphones and laptop.

Of course after a lot of fine tuning, mixing, mastering and feedback on my work, DJing takes that solitary creative expression of music production to whole other realm, where I am freed up to draw in an audience and share the sounds that I hope will move them. The performer in me, is fascinated with creating a space where dancers can collab with me to create a profound, fun, sexy, healing experience.

What role does club culture have in society?

Club culture is one of the breeding grounds for catharsis. After long days, weeks or stressful lives, I find music venues are places where people go to let go. The club is a place where the rules change from your day to day life. I understand it’s not always like that, but it can be fun to submerge yourself in a totally different sensory environment, and just have fun for a while….Dance, flirt, loose yourself in the music. Personally, I find music can be quite a catalyst for healing, so its quite interesting to see all the different ways we incorporate music into our lives, and even make a ritual out of it socially.

What are the criteria for a great party night?

A good gender balance, great mix of diverse people with good vibes, and great music. Personally a great party for me is when the music is thoughtfully weaved together, moves with the changing moods of the people present and tells a bit of a story. A good DJ set has a beginning, middle and end. Terrible DJ sets tend to focus on each song. Totally pro DJs (in my mind) have a consistency and can with ease move you from one state to another, whether its from relaxed to hype or from hype back to social. I like when an overall theme or storyline binds the whole set together.

What is something amazing about Ableton that most people might not know?

Ooh! If only you knew! Take my Ableton Mastery Program to find out! Ableton is a high quality ‘swiss-army-knife’ of music production (made in Germany). Ableton is a bit of a playground where you can create your own instrument to perform music in your own unique way. In the studio, Ableton has enabled me to add a step in the creative process that was lacking in other softwares. I can use it like a sketch pad in “session view”. It allows me to compose, riffs, beats, rhythms, and melodies; composing a song piece by piece without having to decide right away which piece is going to have to fit where in the overall structure of the song. I can pull together the song structure later on in the process. It’s a non-linear music making game changer in that regard.

Also if you really want to go down the rabbit hole and be a geek about it (I highly recommend you do) explore the integration with MAX/msp programming language. MAX/msp has opened up Ableton to pure infinite potentiality, it allows you to create any instruments you desire, add whatever effects you desire and literally change how Ableton works to fit your own personal needs. It’s somewhat of an ‘open-source’ software.

Why are production schools like PHI Sounds EDU so important to up and coming DJs?

It’s important in today’s music industry to have well-rounded knowledge and not just an aesthetic appreciation of music. Quality performance depends on a thorough grasp of the music your presenting and your instruments. With the increase in access to music and music technology, there is definitely a need for more education. Thorough musical instruction and knowledge of your tools, gives music producers a greater range for self expression. When it comes to music production, you don’t want to be thinking about how you’re going to do something, you need to be able to just play it down. I’ve been building PHI Sounds EDU to share the skills needed to do just that.

I enjoying offering a comprehensive understanding of music to fellow musicians and producers, plus I learn so much as a teacher sharing what I know.

Follow Patrick: