I can’t imagine many people have seen a member of The Beatles taking a piss. But sat in a beer garden in Hackney, I find out that Tourist aka Will Phillips, accidentally walked in on Sir Paul McCartney relieving himself during a recording session with Cat Stevens. ‘After you see something like that, you just don’t get star-struck anymore,’ he laughs, clad in a beanie, tropical turquoise shirt and cute girlfriend of four years by his side.
He’s recently returned from a US tour and he revels in showing me pictures from the stage of packed venues, smiling faces and hands in the air. Confident but not cocky, Will is focussed, a deep thinker whose musical obsessions lead to a more refined sound with every release.
RB: Your new EP, Patterns is out on Disclosure’s label. How did that come about?
Tourist: I met them because I supported them for 2 nights. We played up north in Newcastle at an over 16s night. The crowd were really young and were there to hear chart songs like White Noise. I played a load of weird electronica stuff and the kids just stared at me and didn’t dance. We formed a good bond though, they’re good guys. It’s great they want a bit of Tourist on their label.
RB: Disclosure or Rudimental?
Tourist: Disclosure are the best big act by a long shot. I just don’t get Rudimental.
RB: What’s the go with you and Jimmy Napes?
Tourist: Jimmy is a legend. He’s a huge part of Tourist. We write everything together. He wrote Latch for Disclosure.
RB: How did you end up working with Will Heard on your new EP?
Tourist: When you write a song yourself its difficult to find a someone to sing it for you. We went though a couple of iterations and couldn’t find the right person. We were talking about life and the music industry and how it feels like its passing you by. Everyone else is out there achieving and you feel like you can’t keep up with them? It’s written from the perspective of someone that’s in an overwhelming industry. We were introduced to Will, and he just worked with the track. He’ so talented – it’s (music) his life, he feels it.
RB: Your first two EPs are incredibly different. Tell me about the differences in the head space you were in.
Tourist: I wrote my first EP when I lived in Brighton. I don’t know if I was happier, but I was definitely more naive. I was living by the sea, I met my girlfriend there, and the tracks represent that mood. Brighton is a weird oasis. Later we moved up to London – my home – and we had no money and I was only working a couple of days a week. So the TONIGHT EP was darker, more introverted, more sad and melancholy. I think each EP sounds like where it was made. This next EP (Patterns) is a refinement of the last one. I just want to write pop music that doesn’t patronise people.
RB: What are your musical obsessions?
Tourist: I love an a minor chord. I love it so much more than a big drop. F sharp is a good one for big speakers. The frequency it creates doesn’t distort bass on a big speakers. I love the way sound can change the way you think and feel. I love if you play garage now in London it’s cool. Garage is sexy and thoughtful. It deserves it’s own space.
RB: I heard one of your tracks on telly the other day. Is sync something on artists’ mind?
Tourist: I never think about it really. I just had an email from C4 asking if they could use one of my tracks for a new documentary. I’m cool with it because it seemed relevant. Will.I.Am wanted to use Your Girl for something, but I didn’t want him to use it because I don’t like him or his music.
RB: How do you pick tracks to remix?
Tourist: When you do a remix, most people don’t give a shit. I get so many requests but you shouldn’t do too many. Unless you can something really different they don’t have much artistic value. People hold such value to the original songs and remixing is just subverting the tracks. I love melody and lyrics and I choose really carefully. Actually, Annie Mac heard my CHRVHCES remix then she started playing a few other of my tracks and sort of became a fan. Then she called and asked me to play with her on some of her USA shows. She’s a great woman.
RB: Deadmau5 was recently quoted for saying EDM stand for Event Driven Marketing. What do you think about that?
Tourist: Yeah there’s something very wrong with people saying things like that. That’s how he lives, that’s how he makes his millions. He can be cynical but he wouldn’t have four Ferrari’s without it. There’s something strange about someone resenting a system they rely, on. The scene in America is so different. I met Skrillex, Diplo and A-Trax in American recently.I was surprised about how nice Skrillex is. He is genuinely a really cool guy. I went to his party on a rooftop in Miami and it was the weirdest thing ever…
RB: Four Ferraris!? Are you materialistic?
Tourist: I’m materialistic enough to want a studio and a bike and some shoes. Actually my bike just got stolen…. I don’t like buying cheap things – mainly because they don’t last.
RB: The streaming market is exploding.What do you think this means for the artist?
Tourist: Me and Jimmy were comparing our PRS statements. I got 149 quid. (laughs) He obviously got a lot more. We were looking at the breakdowns and yeah people do make money from streaming, but not the artists. The way streaming is monitised is led in favour of the tech companies. I like the idea that people want to own a tangible piece of what you do. The industry is driven by people who don’t care. They discover your stuff on the hype machine and don’t buy it. You really have to work hard as an artist to get proper fans.