Phildel: Records that changed my life

Singer-songwriter Phildel reveals the records that changed her life, including Yann Tiersen and Imogen Heap

Romeo and Juliet motion picture soundtrack

I grew up in a house where music was banned due to my step-father’s religious beliefs. So when I left at the age of 17 to pursue my love of music, I had a tremendous amount of catching up to do. I found that music compilations were a quick way to get to know a variety of different sounds and artists and formed a nice introduction to a cross-section of genres. The Romeo and Juliet soundtrack was a real stand-out compilation. The range of artists/bands was so diverse, from the soulful, beautiful Des’ree’s “Kissing You”, through to the brooding and atmospheric Radiohead’s “Talk Show Host”.

It also helped me understand how music works in relation to film—how music can accentuate and elevate visual content far beyond what it would be left on its own. I think this understanding massively helped in the way my own music interacted with visuals later in my life...some of my biggest breaks came through my music being featured on TV dramas such as Ravenswood and TV adverts for Apple, Verizon and Marks and Spencer as well as catwalk runway shows for designer Henrietta Ludgate.

 

Amelie Original Soundtrack by Yann Tiersen

I discovered this soundtrack at the age of 17. It was a revelation. I adored Tiersen’s piano-led arrangements—the atmospheric, emotive piano motifs. And whilst piano was my main instrument which I loved composing on—I was surrounded by a world of pop and R’n’B in the charts and so had just assumed my piano compositions would be something I created, just for myself—and that few people in the world would be interested in them. Up until that point there were no piano albums hitting the mainstream and so it hadn’t occurred to me that a piano-led instrumental album could become such a mainstream hit.

But the Amelie soundtrack was enormous when it was released—all of my friends at college loved it and bought it. Everyone was learning how to play the pieces. (Even just this week, 15 years later, I heard someone playing one of the pieces on a piano randomly placed in a garden centre!)

I guess back when I was 17, it somehow made me feel the music I wrote could connect with lots of people out there. That year I began writing my piano piece “Qi”—which today has garnered over 70 million streams on Spotify and has sold thousands of scores.

Read more: Yann Tiersen interview

 

Speak for Yourself by Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap’s album Speak for Yourself was a beautiful body of innovative musical work, with moving songs wrapped in intriguing and unique instrumental arrangements. It was also a moment for female producers, engineers and artists. It’s not everyday a woman produces a best-selling album. (Imogen Heap also later won a Grammy for engineering for her album Elipse). It’s not so much that I grew up consciously believing I could not engineer or produce because I’m a woman.

But I think when the producing and engineering world around you is so dominated by male names and male successes...it plants an almost unconscious seed of doubt in one’s perception. You question whether you, as a woman, belong in that space. It can be a subtle but extremely powerful voice, leading to all kinds of insecurity. “Hide and Seek” and Imogen Heap’s subsequent successes - formed an enormously empowering message for me. It put a female authoritative technical presence into the music scene. And held up a beacon for all female producers and engineers. It made me braver in my own execution of artistic vision.

Phildel’s album Wave Your Flags is out now on Yee Inventions