Musically, the blues are founded on emotion. With the progression of technology, a lot of blues artists focus on playing loud, fast and in all honesty, obnoxiously. Often times forgetting that basic element that connects with people. That emotion. Today I’m introducing you guys to a man that certainly plays loud, fast and…well, we’ll call it confidently. BUT, he has his tender moments and isn’t afraid to be a vulnerable artist. His name is Philip Sayce and he’s agreed to sit down with us and discuss his new album Steamroller, and anything else we can come up with.
First off, thanks for joining me today and welcome to the Unsung Melody family. Let’s discuss the album a Steamroller a bit. You come out of the gate showcasing three different aspects. With Steamroller, you simply show you mean business. With Stung By A Woman, you show your range and a funky side. Then with Marigold, you turn everything upside down. You go into this beautifully layered ballad. Tell me a bit about choosing those songs to lead off the album and the thinking behind it.
Well first of all, thank you for listening to the album. Steamroller for me, is all about getting past fear, and embracing what is authentic. Hopefully this translates to the listener as well. This album is an expression of things that I’ve been dealing with on a personal level, each one of the songs is about a specific experience of my life. I wrote this album with Dave Cobb in Nashville, and we had fun being really immediate with the creative process. With “Stung by a Woman” it’s not necessarily only about a woman – it could be about any relationship… especially in this crazy, unscrupulous music business. “Marigold” is one of my favorite songs on the album, and is written for my wife. “Steamroller” is exactly what it’s meant to be, a track that was written to cruise right over anything that gets in its way! Really fun song to play, & a good way to open the album…sets the tone!
Holding On is one of my favorite tracks on the album. I like to feel my music, as much as I like to hear it. Give me a little insight into that track.
Thank you, Jonathan. “Holding On” is really a song about positivity and openness. The lyrics are pretty much straight ahead… “make every moment don’t throw it away, and turn it into something good.” That’s the whole idea and hopefully will bring some positivity to the world, hopefully help me on some tough days, and maybe some others as well. That’s the whole intention of this music and the sound is to reach other people and hopefully have it resonate with them in a positive way.
I get a Jimi Hendrix feel in that song. Specifically the song Waterfall, which is a personal favorite of mine also. This album has an old school feel sort of pushed through a modern spin. Tell me a bit about the writing process for this album. A bit about the mindset and what you wanted to accomplish.
What an enormous compliment, thank you! “May This Be Love” is one of my all time favorite songs, it has a special place in my heart. As I was mentioning a moment ago, I wrote each of these songs with Dave Cobb, who also produced the album. We’re big fans of keeping the music pure, and in the moment, so everything was written in the studio and recorded right then. Very fresh and not over thought…keeping it as close to the original inspiration as possible. It’s a different approach to demo, and record, then re do the recording and demo again – which is fine as well, but we wanted to keep this record very raw, organic and feeling like the first time…because it was!
Aberysywyth is an unbelievably beautiful piece of music. I read that it’s named after the small town in which you were born. In my opinion, that track speaks to me at a level most musicians can’t reach. You’re emotions flow through your fingers. I have a sneaky suspicion that this song means a lot to you. What does Aberysywyth mean to you on a personal level?
I’m just trying to be as open as I possibly can be…to try and get out of my head, combine it with my heart, to stay open, and keep reaching for something deeper. The technicalities of playing or singing are not the only priority, it’s all about the feel, and I’m so glad to hear it resonated with you. I did the best I could on the particular day we recorded Aberystwyth, and definitely put my heart into it. I try my best every day, and I always want to do better and get deeper.
Can we expect a tour soon?
Oh yes! We’re working on it…Get ready!
Alright, I’ll admit that I am a bit confused though. The Blues are a Southern Thang. You’re from Toronto. How on earth did you find so much soul and such a spirited playing style in Canada?
Well, I don’t necessarily look at music only as a geographic thing…it’s a language, a Universal language that speaks to everyone, if you let it. We all feel things, and my music is my personal interpretation of what excites me & makes my heart beat faster! There are a lot of super deep cats in Toronto…the winter is long, and there’s lots of time indoors to practice. Go out on any night and you’ll find some crazy musicians all over town. Same thing for Los Angeles… or Timbuktoo… But we all have feelings, and that’s open to everyone where ever you live! It’s about being connected to inspiration, energy…
You cut your teeth, so to speak, with The Jeff Healey Band. Jeff is unfortunately no longer with us. I certainly was and continue to be a fan and often thought that he seemed like such a good soul. Looking back over your time with him, what is the biggest lesson or the best advice he gave you?
Where to start!?! I’m a huge fan too. Every note I play and sing is influenced by Jeff in some way. He was the most incredible musician I have ever had the experience of spending time with…beyond words, a magical spirit. He gave me lots of advice, but through the music. Sometimes we would talk about specific things, but I was doing the best I could to listen & learn…So pretty much all of it was a learning experience! He gave me room to explore and grow on his stage, and I am deeply grateful for the time I spent with him. It changed my life, and I listen to his music pretty much daily for guidance and inspiration.
Alright Philip, I always end things on a random question. The last one was pretty heavy, so I’ve got to lighten the mood before I let ya go. Since the announcement of the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie. I thought I’d ask who gets the best of the other if you were to pit say Bugs Bunny vs. MacGyver. Both have similar abilities to get out of sticky situations. Who wins and why?
Great question… I’m might actually have to go with… MACGRUBER!!! Have never really extensively watched MacGyver, so perhaps I’ll get up to speed and come back to you, so otherwise, it’s Bugs Bunny…There are no rules in cartoons.
Philip, thanks so much for your honesty and for being such a good sport. The site and myself wish you all the best. I hope to see you on the road soon.
Preview or purchase Steamroller below:
Philip Sayce – Steamroller: