Feature: Ingredients of half alive in a dream with Philip Brooks

Monday, December 9, 2019

Late last month, London-based artist Philip Brooks unveiled his dreamy debut EP half alive in a dream. Across the EP's heartfelt tracks, he openly explores relatable feelings and emotions, including loneliness and isolation, modern dating, on-off relationships and more. Philip Brooks takes us through the influences that surrounded him when he worked on the EP below.

The way my creative space looks highly affects how productive I am and the way that the things I write sound. I have always gravitated towards nature, especially forests, as a place of comfort, so I tend to try and replicate that calming energy at home with plants. In my last flat, I had over 60. I'm not ready to admit that I have a problem — yet.

I don't know how many songs of mine started with me having questionable amounts of coffee and staying up way too late. “spend some time alone inside my head” was one of those. It must’ve been like 3am when I wrote it. Unable to sleep I was sitting on the floor messing around with drum machines and a loop pedal. I had the drum pattern and the chords on loop and started improvising vocals on top of it, recording it all to voice memos on my phone. I somehow came up with about 95% of the final lyrics in the first go, as if subconsciously I already knew exactly what I wanted to say and needed to get out.

Juno 106 Synthesizer
The sound of my dusty old Juno 106 is all over the EP. Someone listed it on eBay for real cheap, so I made a 5h drive across the country to pick it up from this old man’s house. It smelt like 30 years worth of cigarette smoke. I ended up sleeping in my car overnight ‘cause I didn’t wanna drive home late. When I got back I plugged it in and just improvised for a bit, playing what ended up becoming the intro to “i don’t know if i ever wanna go back home”. What you hear in the song is the original first take of that impro session.

The night I wrote “can’t fix the things i left behind” I was all caught up in feelings of a recent breakup and just couldn’t stop staring at the sky outside my window. It was around twilight when these soft clouds illuminated by peach coloured sunlight floated across the dark blue night sky. The first stars were out. That scenery together with my emotions made me feel like the loneliest person on earth, though in a weirdly comforting way. I wanted to conserve this feeling so I tried to make the intro of the song sound the way the sky looked that evening.

Brighton Beach
In my head, that place is the scenery for the Philip Brooks project. The way the evening light colours the air. The sound of the waves pushing around the pebbles beneath your feet. The flickering neon lights of the pier in the distance. I love to remember all the times we spent our last money on train tickets to take the EP single covers and film music videos there.

Listen to half alive in a dream by Philip Brooks below:

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