Alumni Interview – Phoenix Manson
Phoenix Manson – Introduce yourself
Hey, my name is Phoenix Manson and I am a 19 year old artist/music producer from Melbourne. I make Hip Hop and R&B music that infuses an old school vibe with the modern new wave sound.
You graduated 18 months ago. Where are you now and what are you currently working on?
Just after graduating from Abbey Road I launched my first release called WAVELENGTH – EP. Two of the tracks from the EP were toplined by Charlotte Adele. Charlotte is another Abbey Road Alumni who has forged an awesome career for herself at Studios 301. Around the same time I became actively involved in the Melbourne beat making scene. I was a part of the Beat Collective Committee, running the fortnightly live streaming show on TRNSMT and playing shows in venues across the city.
Life in Berlin
About two months ago I relocated from Melbourne to Berlin. Mostly to start building a network in Europe and to explore the amazing electronic music scene here. At the moment I am working with a few rappers producing beats for their projects. I’m DJing regularly and getting ready to release my next single. I recorded it at Abbey Road Institute Melbourne before I moved over here.
Can you describe your roles and what you do in those different roles?
I guess my work can be split into two distinct roles – in the studio and on the stage. As a producer most of my time is spent in the studio making new music for my own project or for other singers/rappers. The other aspect of my job is traveling to different places as an artist to either play live shows or DJ sets. Over the past 6 months I have been really enjoying playing music in different environments and to different crowds.
How did you get into music production?
My music production began around the time I moved from Sydney to Melbourne in high school. I was 15 and spent most of my time on visual arts like painting, drawing and experimenting with film and photography. I told my mum that I wanted to be a graphic designer after high school and I remember her suggesting that I explore the other creative pathways (like music) before I make up my mind.
A lot of my friends at my new high school in Melbourne were into Hip Hop and they would have regular freestyle sessions and rap battles at lunch time. At this point I really started falling in love with the old school beats that they were using as a foundation to rap over and I got really curious how these instrumentals were made.
After doing some research I found that most of my favourite artists were using a piece of software called Ableton Live, so I downloaded the 30 day free trial and the rest is history!
What do you think the most important thing you’ve learned during your career since you have started?
That’s a tricky one because I have learned so much. Probably the most important thing I have learned about the music industry over the past 5 years is to place value on your work. It’s really important to know your worth and not be afraid to charge for the time and work you do. This is an idea that I have only really come to understand over the past 12 months but it is the main thing that has allowed me to turn this from a hobby into a full-time job.
At the moment there are far more people in the world consuming music and other creative content than there are people producing it and releasing it. This trend seems to only be increasing throughout the 21st century. So it is just a matter of finding a way to monetise what you do. I have found that 9 times out of 10 people are more than happy to pay for any piece of work you do for them whether it be editing a podcast or playing a DJ set.
What has your biggest challenge been during the start-up period?
The biggest challenge I have come up against during the first few years (and still deal with at certain times) is staying focused and dedicated to the same goal in the face of the social and financial pressures. Being told to get a real job is something I think all artists hear regularly during the startup phase.
When you first start a career in any creative industry it takes a long period of time to refine your skills and establish a name for yourself. This time is usually spent living on little or no income. It takes a lot of passion and strong commitment to persist through this period with no guarantee of success but I think for those who have believed in themselves and stuck it out, the hard work always pays off in one form or another.
Which skills are the most important during the startup phase?
The skills that have been the most important during this time have been staying flexible. Always being ready to adapt to new things (whether it be new opportunities, technologies or other external factors). In retrospect, there are so many goals that I have set and even though I arrived at the same destination. The path that took me to the end goal was so different to the one I had planned. I think it is really important to stay open minded to the things that are changing around you. You can’t be fixed on an idea about the “right” way to achieve a goal because change is a constant.
What did you learn during your time at Abbey Road institute that helped you to get started on this journey?
The time I spent at Abbey Road Institute helped me transform my skills. I came from a bedroom producer who made music as a hobby to an audio professional. Being surrounded by knowledgeable and friendly lecturers paired with access to such a high-quality studio space. This meant I could ask questions, learn new skills and incorporate those newfound skills into my music every day of the week.
Also learning about the business and legal side of the music industry has been invaluable. It allowed me to set up my own business. I do my own marketing and negotiate contracts with artists and singers.
However one of the most beneficial skills for my journey so far is finding the confidence to network and collaborate with other artists and industry professionals. I think the community at Abbey Road really helps foster this in their students. It is a skill that I have now been able to apply all over the world.
what advice would you give to existing students?
If you are currently studying music production, my advice to you is to stay hungry. Always be curious. These two things are what keep you motivated and learning more. There will be certain points in your journey when making a name for yourself feels like a massive uphill battle. It’s really important to stay motivated and positive while you endure these feelings of doubt.
When you start to get overwhelmed with how far you have to go to achieve your dreams just take a second to look back on how many of your dreams you have already achieved by studying at Abbey Road and how far you have come since you started this journey.
What are your next plans and steps?
Right now I am planning the release cycle for my new single called “Blame It On My Game”. This single will drop next month. I had the pleasure of collaborating with the super talented singer/songwriter Mareya on this track and I am extremely happy with how it turned out.
This single will also be accompanied by a music video clip that we filmed at the end of last year. It was my first time writing and directing a video clip so I am super excited for it to launch. It’s called Blame It On My Game (feat. Mareya) and will be available for streaming on all digital platforms on May 3rd 2019.
Keep in touch with Phoenix’s latest releases by following him;