ABOVE: PARISIAN (LEFT) AND PHASEONE.
Down-tempo comrades and St. Louis natives Phaseone and Parisian originally bonded over a love for mid-2000s dubstep. Today the former hip-hop producers admit that the genre’s gotten egregiously warped over the years, but they’ve definitely strayed far from their early influences.
Though hundreds of miles apart—Phaseone lives in Brooklyn with his girlfriend, Parisian remains “stuck” in St. Louis—the two make a similar brand of ethereal, instrumental music. While you can hear the hip-hop past more in Phaseone’s production through his samples and song structures, Parisian works in a more experimental, abstract world. Still, their styles meet in a spacey, atmospheric place, where they’re able to curate distinct emotional journeys, hypnotic in their own ways.
Days before the release of their collaborative 7″, we spoke with Phaseone and Parisian—from here addressed as Andrew and Ian, respectively—about St. Louis, space music, and releasing music with friends.
DAN BUYANOVSKY: To start, are you French? Or Parisian?
PARISIAN: No, I’m not. I was definitely born in Missouri. I still can’t figure out if it was a good idea, making that my name. I guess it’s kind of cheesy, but I always liked the aesthetic of the New Wave stuff that Godard has made, and Truffaut, that kind of stuff. It had an influence on me and that’s kind of the sound that I go for.
BUYANOVSKY: So you’re inspired by Parisians?
PARISIAN: Yeah, I’d say so.
BUYANOVSKY: You’re both originally from St. Louis, and Ian, you’re still there. Tell me about it.
PARISIAN: St. Louis is cool, but it honestly feels lacking in terms of a rich culture, especially in electronic music and what I do. And it’s not even that what I’m doing is that unique, but it’s just lacking here. But that’s a big part of how I met Andrew, because he and a few friends used to do this little DJ thing and they’d play all this new music, and not that I’m into it now, but it was the first time I heard dubstep and a lot of the stuff that’s caught on now. But yeah, I don’t know, I’m not that big into St. Louis.
BUYANOVSKY: Do you think living there influences you, musically?
PARISIAN: I’d say it does, but it’s more like trying to make something different from what’s being made here. Not that everything here is bad, I don’t want to give that impression, but it’s just not my style.
BUYANOVSKY: Andrew, you’re living in Brooklyn now, but do you think your style was originally influenced by the lack of what was going on in St. Louis?
PHASEONE: I mean, I started out trying to be a rap producer for local rappers, but most of them sucked. And for whatever reason, I got tired of it and felt like I wasn’t doing the type of thing I wanted to do, so I just said fuck it and started making some different kind of music. I didn’t really know what it was at the time, but it was something that came more naturally to me.
BUYANOVSKY: I feel like a lot of producers who mainly produce rap feel like they lose a sense of control—like they’ll make a great beat, then someone comes in and raps over it, and fucks it up.
PHASEONE: I agree with that, one hundred percent. That’s exactly why I got sick of it—even if you did hook up with a rapper that you liked or were excited about, they might try and like sing on the beat. This was around 2004, when a lot of rappers would try to sing their own hooks, and I sort of caught the bad end of that. That’s exactly what it was, though.
BUYANOVSKY: How has living in New York been so far?
PHASEONE: It’s cool—if there’s something cool or new going on, you’re not just going to hear about it on the internet, you’re going to be a part of it. But at the same time, I just don’t have as many friends here, and I get bored a lot.
BUYANOVSKY: I think a lot of people here spend a lot of time inside, because when you’re outside you’re just confronted by these masses of people and get over-stimulated, so sometimes you’d rather just go home to slow down. But then you end up not doing any of the things that are available to you.
PHASEONE: That’s totally true. And you kind of get spoiled, like you go out two or three nights in a row, then the next night something really cool is happening, but you’re like, fuck it, I’ll catch it next time.
BUYANOVSKY: Ian, are you planning on staying in St. Louis?
PARISIAN: [sighs] No, probably not. I’ve been looking into the possibility of moving to New York or Chicago—a bigger city. I’ve been here almost my entire life, with the exception of study abroad, and occasionally leaving the city. But yeah, I think I need to be someplace else. It’s intimidating though, coming from here and going there, it’s intimidating as hell. I was actually in New York over New Year’s, and I’m not really used to catching trains and the mass of people, but I like the energy out there.
BUYANOVSKY: The project you guys are putting out is like a collaborative album, but you both have your own side for a solo release. Who came up with the concept?
PARISIAN: Andrew and I have been talking for a while about possibly working together, then the label basically presented it to us, and we were into it.
PHASEONE: I guess they wanted to do it as a joint release because I’ve done some more shit in the past, and Ian is, for lack of a better word, sort of unknown, and I think it would help the success of the release if I were attached to it. But, I kind of look at it as the apex of our two styles and ways of doing things. I also haven’t released anything since like 2010, so this is sort of like and end to the silence.
BUYANOVSKY: Ian, are you excited about releasing your first high-profile project with a friend?
PARISIAN: I’m excited as hell, man. I mean, he’s a pretty good friend, but he’s also a big influence on a lot of what I do, so it’s cool to be able to go from posting up in the back of some bar and watching him do his shit, then eventually come up and do something with him.
BUYANOVSKY: Tell me about your song on the record, “Sean.”
PARISIAN: So, I was in a group doing hip-hop stuff before I did this solo thing, and the dude I was in the group with was Sean, and he’s the one who pretty much taught me how to make beats proper. Before I met him, my shit was all maxed out and just wonky, and he pretty much sat me down and was like, “this is how you do this.” And he actually stopped making music altogether, and we had somewhat of a falling out, so… I’d always assumed my first record would be with him, but it’s not going to happen now, obviously, so it’s more like a dedication to a friend.
BUYANOVSKY: Andrew, I feel like your production is sparser and leaves a lot of room for listeners to add their own emotional ideas to the songs. What do you think about when you listen back to a track like “It’s Not Forever”?
PHASEONE: I don’t know if I can really have a personal experience with it, because I spent so much time on it and it just has a different meaning to me. It’s more of a logical understanding of it. I don’t think of it as something I can listen to and enjoy. But… I don’t do many songs where there’s a repetitive sample throughout the entire song.
BUYANOVSKY: It’s cool, though. It makes it sort of hypnotic.
PHASEONE: Right, and I don’t think it would be as effective if it were any less repetitive. I think it’s probably the strongest conceptual statement I’ve made as an artist so far, because of the many different ways it can be interpreted.
BUYANOVSKY: Pitchfork called your song “Being With You” a “space jam.” What do you think about the movie Space Jam?
PHASEONE: I haven’t seen it in a while, but Michael Jordan is the greatest athlete of our time.
BUYANOVSKY: If you were in that movie, do you think you’d be on the Looney Tunes team or the Monstars team?
PHASEONE: I’m not very good at basketball. I think I would be the ball boy or some shit.
BUYANOVSKY: You could be the ref. [laughs]
PHASEONE: [laughs] Yeah, I’d be the ref.
BUYANOVSKY: The cover of the project is a photo of a spaceship taking off. Do you think astronauts listen to music when they’re in space?
PARISIAN: I hope astronauts listen to music in space. I can’t imagine having that experience and not having something to soundtrack it. If you’re up there, and you’re having this experience that so few have had and you’re not listening to music, then you’re definitely fucking up.
PHASEONE: They did in the movie Apollo 13. They were listening to like, The Doobie Brothers or something. I would. I would have to, it’s so quiet.
BUYANOVSKY: Do you think astronauts would listen to your music, up there?
PHASEONE: I mean, the possibility of an astronaut coming across my work is…
BUYANOVSKY: Well, if they had it already, in their catalog of songs. Do you think it would be good space music?
PHASEONE: Yeah, I think it would be a good soundtrack for being in space.
BUYANOVSKY: What do you think you would listen to up there?
PARISIAN: I imagine if I was up there I’d be listening to classical. I feel like that’s kind of the time to do that.
PHASEONE AND PARISIAN’S COLLABORATIVE 7″ IS OUT TODAY VIA LEFSE RECORDS.