Philippe Nash, 27 from Salisbury, Wiltshire, moved to Brighton to study Illustration in 2010 and then BAM he found himself playing snazzy music with all sorts of delightful personages, and doing it jolly well! Currently, he’s joined forces with Oliver Chapman, Will HIlliard and Harvey Herman to make the reflective and ingeniously talented band ‘A Sunbeam’.
This gentlemen has a fabulous way of expressing himself and shares some absolute truths – he even talks of world domination through music which is just, cool. Serious energy, enthusiasm and talent.
When did you start to play music?
“I started playing music quite young, I remember playing the recorder in infant school. My mum had a piano in the house so music was at home too and I had a few simple instruments as a child. We also grew up going to church so music and singing was a big part of my life from the beginning. I bought my first guitar aged 13, a cheap blue-sunburst acoustic, and started writing songs almost straight away. Since then I’ve performed mostly my own music with different groups of friends and musicians. Now I play in a band called ‘A Sunbeam’.”
What were your influences?
“When I started playing guitar I was spending a lot of time with a friend who had older brothers. We listened to music and wrote songs together and he exposed me to post-punk and some other noisy emotional rock. One of the first riffs I learnt was the intro to ‘Private Eye’ by Alkaline Trio. Later on the sound of what I was listening to mellowed out towards acoustic guitars and folk music. I remember hearing Alligator by The National aged 19 in a friends Ford Fiesta and that felt exciting. I was introduced to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen in my early 20’s too, along with Sufjan Stevens and The Danielson Family who had a very strong influence on me with their hand-made outfits. I saw Sufjan perform the Age of Adz when I was 22 and it flipped the world upside down. Me and my friends were really into low-fi art and music at the time but that was the beginning of listening to all kinds of music. I think we wanted to touch something and that show gave more than you could imagine. In the last couple of months I’ve been listening to Neil Young’s Harvest, Hopelessness by ANHONI, London-based Wovoka Gentle’s EP’s, some Björk albums, Portishead, SONNA’s latest album Turquoise Purple Punk and my friend Harvey who plays guitar in our band put me onto a great album called Silent ’88 by Hood.”
Who were your inspirations?
“I’m often inspired by people around me. Older kids from my youth group were in bands so that was inspiring during my teenage years. There are some really great musicians and song writers that I know here in Brighton too – my friends Kristin McClement and Nick Austin each have solo projects and write really stunning songs. I met a brilliant band called Garden Centre a couple of weeks ago and a sunbeam recently played a show with Marcus Hamblett who we were all stunned by. Marcus also plays in SONNA. I find it really inspiring learning how people have approached making music. ‘Radiohead’ are an important band for me both in the way they release music and what they produce sonically. I recently watched ‘Stop Making Sense’ whilst reading David Byrne’s ‘How Music Works’ too. I like how music so often has its time and moment, a lot of the music I love was influential politically or socially and says something powerful. It’s not always been about a sound or a type of music, for me the most inspiring music and art is about communication.”
What are the different obstacles you’ve faced in order to be where you are today with your music?
“There appear to be lots of obstacles set against bands and musicians, it can be a struggle to get money together for recordings or rehearsal space. Good equipment is expensive too and finding the right people to make music with has taken me a long time. I think the greatest challenges are in the way we think. There’s so much happening, shows on every night of the week, so many open mic nights, so many bands, not to mention all the other kinds of performances that happen. The obstacle is how do you get peoples attention. Reality can feel a bit hazy and it can be difficult to figure out who to tell about your music or how to tell them. On a larger scale too we’re bombarded with sounds and images all day everyday so how do you have an impact as a band or even believe it’s possible. That’s one of the biggest challenges we are facing at the moment – how to keep connected to what we’re interested in making whilst life pushes and pulls us around. This bombarding, I think, constantly effects how we go to see music, how we listen and how we engage with music. While there’s lots going on, the quality can get jeopardised and that puts people off live music. People’s ears are changing, now that music is everywhere all the time. I personally find music apps like spotify really dangerous for musicians, although it’s great being able to access so much music it also distances audiences as well as giving the distributor lots of control and ultimately cash. It’s tough out there, but all of these obstacles feel less intimidating now and more of an opportunity for creativity.”
What style/genre of music do you play?
“I don’t really know how to answer this question. I’m happy for that to be my answer.”
What are some of your completed projects? Do you have any future projects in the making we should look out for?
“I’ve made and released my own music since I was 19. The first and long forgotten album I made I think was called Blue Wires. Since then I’ve put stuff out by myself and played with a few different configurations of musicians. Playing in ‘A Sunbeam’ really feels like the strongest expression of my music yet. We unofficially released a song called ‘Peel’ after spending a week in a studio in Sheffield rehearsing and recording. I’m really pleased with how it sounds and can’t wait to get on with more recording. We are moving towards a small release of some kind soon and I hope to make a couple of EP’s or an album in the next year or so. We have lots of ideas and energy, it’s just slow working amongst our jobs at the moment.”
Where people can find your music?
“On our website www.sunbeam.net.”
What message/s do you hope to portray through your music?
“There are underlying messages of hope in my music but there’s also a lot of frustration and anger too. I write through self-reflection and questioning and the best songs feel like they come out of nowhere so if there are messages they aren’t conscious statements. I am more and more concerned with issues of climate change though and our impact on the planet as well as capitalism degrading not just human experience but the whole entire world.”
Has it been difficult making time to pursue your musical career whilst successfully sustaining the income you need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle?
“Yes but maybe I shouldn’t be living so comfortably. I also love my ‘day job’ so some of the tension comes from splitting myself between the two. Truth is I would love to be playing music full time so until that happens there’s always going to be an element of unrest.”
What has been your biggest achievement yet?
“Musically – I don’t know that I would call it an achievement but I am pleased to still be making music now and particularly with the other three in the band. They are some of my closest friends and I love performing with them, that seems like something to be proud of. The last handful of shows we’ve played have felt really exciting. I’m also really pleased with ‘Peel’ and how that sounds and some of the other songs we’re playing live.”
What other extra curricular activities do you enjoy?
“Eating. Walking under trees. Talking to my brother. Not having a cold. Reading.”
Do you plan on staying in Brighton?
“Not if world domination through music goes to plan. No, I want to see other places. I’d like to live in the Whitehouse and play music until Donald breaks down in tears and says he’s a real boy. As a band we’re keen to tour and play music in different countries. I love visiting new places and I think ultimately I’d like to live in a small house in the woods. I do feel very grateful for life in Brighton though, it’s a special place and it stands out in comparison to other towns in the UK. There are some really exciting things happening in food at the moment and I’ve met some truly inspiring people here.”