“You hold a lot of trauma in your body without realising it”
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGES BY LEWIS VORN/CHESS CLUB RECORDS
Guided by the influences of James Blake, Tyler The Creator, Phoebe Bridgers, St Vincent and more, Phoebe Green has been building their own musical dynasty since the release of 02:00AM in 2016. Never going in just one direction, their new album Lucky Me hits the pause button, speaking to Phoebe’s pop and electronic influences as well as their archetypical, sweet indie rock sound. In many ways, she’s shed their skin and subconsciously reinvented themselves, exploring their relationship with their gender, their mental health and their northern accent. Rising like a phoenix out of the ashes, they’ve already supported Self Esteem, Baby Queen and Everything Everything – a true range of artists – in their career. So, what’s it like to be Phoebe Green?
DIVA: Your debut album, Lucky Me, is out now! Congratulations. Could you tell me a little bit about it?
I think it definitely documents quite a transitional period in my life. I think it shows the change from my kind of analysis of how I behave towards other people. Now, I really tend to write about just myself and how experiences have impacted me more than how I’ve impacted other people’s experiences. I used to write in an observational way. This is more introspective.
DIVA: On the single Lucky Me you explored your behavioural patterns and your relationship with your mental health. Are these themes we can expect from the wider album?
Yeah, I’d say so. I think a running theme through the album is definitely how my mental state has kind of altered my behaviour. I think that kind of does carry through all the songs, but it can be positive or it can be negative. I don’t think it’s one or the other, really. It starts in quite a guarded, defensive way, and then I get more and more vulnerable as the album goes on.
DIVA: You’ve kind of spoken about it being a way to sort of dissect your experiences rather than feel them, which I think is really interesting because I think we can all hide behind things. But how does this sit with you?
I think my emotions are just horrible. A lot of the time and like, can be so overwhelming, and so uncomfortable to feel. So I think a lot of the time, I will observe them and analyse them and kind of try and intellectualise them rather than actually feel them within my body. You hold a lot of trauma in your body without realising it. I hate that I can have an experience and I feel it before I register it. I think that’s why whenever anything is distressing, I’ll always try and kind of get it out of my body and view it as this kind of alien thing, rather than accepting that it’s actually a part of me.
DIVA: Totally. Trauma doesn’t sit in your mind. It sits in your body and soul, too. And how did you first get into music? What’s your earliest musical memory?
Probably when I was a kid. I’ve always been very theatrical and very attention-seeking without realising. I just loved being the loudest person in the room and I was able to channel that through music, melodically rather than shouting at the top of my voice. I’ve always felt things so deeply and it became such an outlet for me.
DIVA: On this album, you’ve shed your skin as an indie pop artist and moved towards these hip hop and pop influences. What kind of triggered this shift – was it an organic move?
It wasn’t even like a deliberate thing that happened. I realised that when I was younger, making more indie music, it’s because I was just replicating what the people around me or the people I was influenced by were doing. I think I lost a lot of my identity.
Now, when I started writing the demos for this album, I would do the beat and the baseline, and then record the vocal. I’d find quite minimal instrumentation to reflect the vocal melody or enhance the mood of it rather than trying to find the most obscure thing that would sound cool and outshine the vocals.
DIVA: You grew up in Lancashire and you’re quite a big face on the Northern music scene. What does it mean to you to be bringing this sound and this part of your identity to your music?
I think especially when it comes to the vocal, a lot of Northern people will try and change their accent as they’re singing. I definitely used to do that, but now I’ve realised that it actually is kind of cool and it pulls your attention in. I used to view my accent as being embarrassing or too much, but now it compliments my music really well because it feels more realistic.
DIVA: You use she/they pronouns – what’s this journey been like for you? What relationship do you have with your identity?
It’s been pretty gradual. But I think I’ve only started to use like… I only came to accept that I would ever feel comfortable with like, they/them pronouns in the past couple of years, because I think a lot of the confusion I had was to do with my relationships with men. I felt that I had to fit a certain role within that relationship and had to be super feminine. I wanted validation from the male gaze. Now that I’m out of it, I have a girlfriend and there’s much less pressure on my gender identity. I was so determined to find a label but I’ve chilled out now.
I appreciate it so much when artists are outspoken about their identity. It’s nice to be able to connect with an artist knowing that they’re the same as you. Growing up, I didn’t hear that many outspoken queer pop songs. It’s important to me to provide that for my queer fans.
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