Photo credits: Dan Reid Photography
Deeply entrenched with more than 27 years in the music industry, Phil ‘Moonface’ Thompson is transcendent with hope and positivity. Phil’s online catalog growing with a stack of Moonface releases, not forgetting remixes and DJ compilations.
2020 sees Phil continue hosting his ‘Futurized’ monthly show on Frisky Radio plus presenting his vinyl livestreams sets via YouTube whenever he’s in the mood for it. In December 2020 he will be self-releasing for the first time a new double album exclusively on Bandcamp called ‘Pushover Mankind’. A collection of 8 weird abstract chill out styled tracks, along with 8 dance floor underground styled tracks. Limited signed & numbered double CD albums will be available. Most tracks come together by playing around jamming in the studio whenever he feels in the mood. Then once the ideas are down it can take months to years to finalize the track to the point it’s finished.
We caught up with Moonface to talk about his new album ‘Pushover Mankind’ out now via Bandcamp. Grab your copy here.
Electronic Groove: Hi, Phil, thank you for joining us, it’s a true pleasure. It’s been one hell of a year, right? How have you handled the lockdown?
Moonface: Hello EG crew. Yes, agreed, one mega roller coast ride for each and every one of us physically & mentally. No escape, rich or poor. For me the build-up to the first lockdown I became very anxious dealing with panic attacks I have never had before. But once in lockdown and I had closed my Car Window Tinting business for what I thought would only be two weeks, that then became two months. Then I started to relax and enjoy the time off away from my normal routines. We then re-opened and had a busy summer until the current lockdown number 2. My wife has worked from home for years so no change for her. And for me, it has been a magical time where I was out mountain biking every other day and enjoying working on the house, live streams, and finishing off my music.
EG: So, you’ve been involved with music for quite some time now. How do you feel about the evolution of your sound? How do you feel about the scene, in general, these days?
Moonface: Yep about 27 years since I learned to DJ and get my hands on some basic studio equipment. I would say my sound, my style is still very much the same consistently over the years. What has changed is my engineering skills, although I still listen to other music producers and think I want to sound like that. In the last two years I have upgraded everything from studio computer to synths to speakers to then moving home and building a new studio space. I feel now I can finally say that after mastering I am happy with my sound for now. For me, I’ve never really been into music trends, just stuck with anything I love. I’m not really known for any particular style and I love it that way. Always surprising people when they start to dig thru my mixes or productions. I feel the real scene is there bubbling away underground in private house parties across the planet.
EG: Do you enjoy the music that’s been coming out from the progressive realm? Is there something you’d like to see more of?
Moonface: I feel progressive is not such a dirty word these days. There is so much talent out there making such amazing forward-thinking magical music it’s unreal. Most producers are well off the radar. I am blown away with the music I can buy these days. So much more musical than my own productions. It really is endless out there online. What I would like to hear more of is uptempo dance tracks. Yeah, 120 bpm is cool for night club warm-ups, but not for a whole 5-hour set. I like to take it up to 130 even to 140 to keep pumping energy into the set. But then again I come from an era where +135bpm was standard across the 90’s dance floors.
EG: Now, back to you. We know you’re in the midst of releasing a new project titled ‘Pushover Mankind’, a very ambitious 2 part album. Could you tell us more about it? How did that come about?
Moonface: This came about during the last few weeks of lockdown 1. I knew I was going to open up my business again I had customers waiting for me to do that and I felt guilty that I had only messed around in the studio working on a few new tracks not taking things seriously. I woke up one day and thought I need to start tidying up my unfinished tracks. So I went through every folder opening up tracks in the making. Deciding what was finished, what needed finishing, what needed arranging, and so on. Suddenly I had way too much music to deal with. I was lost in what direction to take. I was finding tracks that I had made drunk in the zone that was nearly finished that I had totally forgotten about. That just needed some tidying up and they were done. I then decided I would not start anything new until I had a collection of tracks for release as my new album.
“I’ve never really been into music trends, just
stuck with anything I love”
EG: This will be your first ‘self-released’ album. How do you feel about the whole thing?
Moonface: I feel great, I feel empowered for the first time in 20 years. I never ever felt in control of my releases. I always made unique sounding underground dance tracks and never ever followed any trends. If anything I went against the trends. If snare rolls and huge breakdowns were massive, I would avoid snare rolls and breakdown. So I never really ever made music for the market and this went against me for obvious reasons when running a label and trying to make money from this. I’ve always been very stubborn with my style and stuck to my sound. So when I had this new collection of music I had no idea who to send it to. I had a few releases on independent music labels over all the years with an EP here, or a single release there, plus the odd remix if asked. Mainly only giving tracks to cool underground labels well off the radar that I gelled with. Ones I connected with or they got in contact with me asking for tracks. So when I had this collection of new music I was stuck with what to do with it and pondered on it for at least a couple of months. I knew I had something unique as a package but could not think of a single record label that I wanted to give it away to. Giving it away is basically what you have to accept these days as an artist. I then started looking into alternative ways to get my music out there. Should I just give it away myself as many artists do on Soundcloud? Should I contact a big label and see if I can get it released? I started to think about what a label would offer me in return these days and sadly they could offer nothing financially.
I knew that even if I was on the biggest label at the moment I would just be another release in the conveyor belt of music the labels are releasing these days. I sat back and watched a cool producer release an awesome unique underground dance album on a huge label only to be plugged by them the week building up to the release. As soon as it was released along came the next week’s release and his promotions had now been and gone. I just didn’t want that to happen to years and years’ worth of my productions. So I chatted with Lee Softley (Blue Amazon) who has been a huge activist in the last few years trying to fix some of the issues with artists releasing music and not getting paid for it. We’d chat every now and then and bounce ideas around. He is very knowledgeable about these music industry issues we have in this digital age. He sent me one article that had only just been written around September 2020 all about Bandcamp. I had known of this site for many years and often went there looking for music. Suddenly the penny dropped. This was now how I was going to release my new music. For the first time in 20 years, I suddenly had control over the artwork, the mastering, the release date, the merchandise, promotions, and let’s not forget the 85% instant income direct to your PayPal account. No label can match that… Getting CD’s duplicated and able to sell directly to the music lover. It all became so exciting to me as I had never ever felt before. Even if I sell just a few copies I would have made more income than I have done in years collectively from any of the labels my music is on. No fault of theirs, it’s just the way things are for underground dance music in this digital age.
EG: What gear did you use on ‘Pushover Mankind’? Do you still compose with the same gear you had during the early years?
Moonface: My studio is pretty basic. I still have all my outboard gear as would never ever sell any of it. I love to sample loops, sounds, and spoken words from whatever inspires me. Often I start with sampling stuff that then I build from there. It’s the way I have always done things going way back to when I only had 2secs of memory time in my AKAI 3000.
EG: Have your creative dynamics changed with the pandemic? How do you get inspired during these hard times?
Moonface: I feel hard times can make you more creative. It’s an escape from the madness going on outside. For me, I only create music when I am in the mood for it. I never ever force it or have to. I can go for weeks or months without working on any music. Then one day I am in the right mood and I switch everything on and suddenly I have something in the making. I’m also usually working on a new Frisky or vinyl livestreams, going thru my record collection always inspires me to make music. Also listening to other DJs on Frisky or Soundcloud whilst at work or cooking, watching live streams is enjoyable.
“There is so much talent out there making such amazing forward-thinking magical music it’s unreal”
EG: You’ve been doing livestream shows during the lockdown. Do you think the livestream mechanic is something that will disappear eventually once the pandemic is over? Or do you think it’s here to stay?
Moonface: I feel it all depends on what your content is all about. At first, I was a bit annoyed that suddenly every DJ was doing mostly really bad live streams. I had been doing them for a few years already and had a monthly slot with the local guys at Goat Shed (Check them out). I had just moved home and was getting ready to set up my own live streaming sessions right as the lockdown started. I had just bought the last cameras in the local computer store as lockdown started. Wondering why they were totally out of stock nearly everywhere I looked. Then BAM… Every Dj was doing it. I was considering not doing them because so many Djs were doing it. But then I thought I now have a captive audience and because my sets were vinyl only, I felt I had something to watch, something interesting to view and share with others interested.
Also, I had a regular bunch of mates that would tune in and make me laugh with their banter made it so much fun. Bearing in mind people watch on average 13 minutes before getting bored and moving on. Most stay for a few seconds… Some stay the full set. Some tune in after when they are in the mood. Once the lockdown started I did a live stream every Saturday night for about 11 weeks. Then I went back to work and now I do them when I feel like it. For me, they are here to stay. I feel like a veteran clubber who can’t get a good night out these days, they are the best way to connect with people who want to party at home and listen to quality underground music. For me, you just can’t beat a good party at home with great friends. If it’s done right it’s something to share. Once the lockdowns are over I will be having guest DJs over to join me in the fun. I really can’t wait for that to happen.
EG: What is the best advice you wish someone had given you back when you first started out? I what ways do you think that would have helped you out?
Moonface: (Laughter)…great question. Maybe if someone took me aside at the start of my 15 mins of fame and said to me to keep my mouth shut about all the negative sides of the music industry I came to experience. I, like many thought, once I had made it I was there for good. Little did I know back then, it would have put me on a different path. I was so naive, so giving, so young, so gullible. All the things the music industry loves about fresh talent.
EG: What can we expect from Moonface in 2021?
Moonface: Let’s see how my new album goes. I have another collection of very odd tracks with unique tempos ready for mastering. Depending on how things go I might get them out there. Other than that, just about to start a new remix for Paul Sawyer featuring Jan Johnston. The awesome thing is now when a track or two is done…. I can just put it up for sale.
EG: Thank you so much for your time, Phil! It’s been a pleasure. We wish you the best of luck with ‘Pushover Mankind’!
Moonface: THANK YOU. Thanks for some cool questions.
Moonface’s ‘Pushover Manking’ is now available via Bandcamp. Grab your copy here.