With less than a month to go before the sophomore Philippine concert of French synth-pop band Phoenix, fans are filled with excitement and anticipation. Phoenix is set to return to the Philippines on August 15, 2017 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Phoenix at their sold-out 2014 concert in Manila | Photo by Kris Rocha; courtesy of Karpos Multimedia

They have released six full-length albums since 2000, beginning with their debut United. This year, their sixth record Ti Amo, continues the visual and musical trajectory that delights their fans all over the world. The record according to the band, is a recall of “summer” and “Italian discos” and a “fantasized version of Italy”.

Guitarist Laurent “Branco” Brancowitz stated that the band resorted to using new instruments and finding a new studio in Paris where they worked on the new album. The sound of Ti Amo delivers a fresh take on the band’s musicality as it features more pop-driven synthesizers that are infectious and reminiscent of early-80s disco. Branco says that Italian culture —he and brother Christian Mazzalai have Italian heritage— continues to be an inspiration because of its vibrance and diversity. Besides the new studio in Paris, La Gaité Lyrique where they worked, the album’s sound was also highly affected by the creative use of vintage equipment to generate a more authentic theme. Branco also shared that he barely played the guitar to contribute more in the synth and overall arrangements; Chris consequently took most of the six-string work.

Laurent “Branco” Brancowitz at Phoenix’s 2014 concert in Manila | Photo by Magic Liwanag; courtesy of Karpos Multimedia

BillboardPH had a quick exchange of thoughts with Branco about their recent release Ti Amo:

The sonic journey of Phoenix has progressed throughout the years. What is the most significant change the band experienced in terms of musical evolution for Ti Amo?

Every album is a new adventure and Ti Amo is yet another one. We try to develop our sound each time we make albums as much as possible but for some reason, we always sound like Phoenix. So we tried to find new things to discover to develop our songs.

Ti Amo serves like a musical tour around Italy. What particular experience inspired the theme of the album?

We have listened to a lot of Italian music for the past year so I guess that’s one part of it. Another thing is that we have a strong connection with Italy, because Chris (Mazzalai) and I are half-Italian.

Christian Mazzalai at Phoenix’s 2014 concert in Manila | Photo by Magic Liwanag; courtesy of Karpos Multimedia

What creative processes did the band have to go through in order to come-up with the album? Did the band lean towards using more vintage instruments to match its theme?

We did use a lot of vintage instruments. Right now we have a big collection of synthesizers and one particular synth, an old model of the Arp Quadra to be specific became a standout.

How does Phoenix plan to adapt to the ever-changing era of musical streaming?

We don’t really adapt. We always believe that the album’s content is the most important thing. We always try to come up with a collection of songs that is united by a theme and that people can relate to. We love the fact that there is a democratic relationship between artists and listeners because of their access to discover music without mass media.

Any chance on taking the Philippines’ distinct tropical setting as an inspiration for future material? Probably a song or two that talks about your experiences in the country?

Yeah! We’ll never know. The last time we played in the Philippines was a strong experience. When we got back to the studio, we were overwhelmed with emotions and it gave us more energy to create more music.

Phoenix at their sold-out 2014 concert in Manila | Photo by Magic Liwanag; courtesy of Karpos Multimedia

What is Phoenix’s vision in the upcoming years? Will fans expect more thematic material?

Right now, we’re very happy touring. We spent a lot of time in the studio and we need to see the world again. You know, meet people and experience more adventures. But we have a few song ideas out there. Maybe we will release something in the near future.

Briefly describe your 6th record Ti Amo

I will use two words: “Lost Paradise”.


FEATURED IMAGE: Artwork from a photograph by Antoine Wagner