A Day With Philth Like
Mackem-born, Manchester-adopted, poet and rapper Philip Lawrence, the lead of Philth Like, joined Tipping Point for a catch up with him and his producer, Jack Candela, before their performance at Pop Recs in Sunderland.
Completing the trio is Reuben Hester, additional vocals within Philth Like, however he was unfortunately unable to make the trip to the North East, yet nevertheless was there in spirit for the day ahead. Hometown for Philip, he wanted to show both Jack and myself the best of Sunderland from his point of view that inspired him to become the artist we see him today.
Meeting up with both of them in the Ivy House pub in the city, Philip was eager to show us around Sunderland, especially as Jack hadn’t ever been to the North East before! Philip chatted about the places he grew up and the areas that shaped him into the man he is today. A place special to Philip was the SB Barbering Academy, a barber training institute in the centre of Sunderland, owned by Vicky Smith. Originally an engineer on the oil rigs, his passion was always with hair, something that he had dreamt of doing for almost a decade of his engineering career.
In 2017, after going through a divorce, he felt it was the time to change and completed the barbering course which gave him the confidence to develop the skill he always wanted to learn! As I was going to be shown a demo later on, we headed back into town to get into the Q&A side of the day, to dig deep into the development of Philth Like.
Settling for a Northern favourite, Wetherspoons, with the sun shining I finally saw the true bromance between both him and Jack. We dug into Philth Like’s Jack and Philip (minus Reuben) to see how the trio have shot through the roof with their upcoming EP release of World Wide Waster.
- Can you introduce yourselves for the Tipping Point Live followers: where did you both grow up/ how old were you when you discovered a passion for music/ your earliest memory of a song/influences?
Jack: Born in Warrington and raised in Manchester, I’ve been producing from the age of 11 but didn’t start getting properly paid until 3 years ago really from a different project. I’ve always been into music really, different genres as well so I’m really varied.
Philip: Well as you can tell I’m a Mackem, love Sunderland me. I’ve been doing poetry from the earliest of 6 years old. My biggest life and music influence was my uncle Howie. He was a DJ at the Blue Monkey in Sunderland, Mayfair in Newcastle and Rezerection in Scotland back in the early 90s. as well as DJ’ing alongside Carl Cox, The Prodigy, Joey Beltram, LFO, Frankie Bones to name a few. He introduced me to acid house, jungle, drum n bass, garage and hip hop was of course a constant backdrop to each of these introductions. My first CD was Ice T – Home Invasion, given to me by Howie. My parents brought me up, but Howie showed me how to view the world. He committed suicide in November 2017. My latest single, Brain Change, is for Howie.
- You met Jack Candela and Reuben Hester in November 2017, that caused the catalyst of Philth Like, how did that happen?
P: Over the past few years, I just rediscovered the North East Hip-Hop scene, just prior to this I started writing poetry again, after not writing for about 10 or 11 years. I met a few people who had the means to record stuff, who gave a good account of themselves like ‘yeah we should link up’ but it just never happened. I even tried recording with one or two people but it never really got off the ground, or we’d record something and nothing would happen. They wouldn’t get in touch with me or I’d try and organise something but nothing would ever come out of it. To be fair, I’m glad it didn’t like because I would have burnt up a lot of bars. Some of the stuff I’d been putting out was good but the beats were so generic, it just wasn’t my sound at all. Although I love hip-hop- my roots are all hip-hop and acid house (courtesy of my uncle Howie), it’s not the sound that I wanted. I come to the end of 3-4 years of just dipping my toes in and getting my name about, especially at open mics.
So, when I moved down to Manchester, I cut Jack’s hair one day. Him and Reuben Hester, who are in a band called China Lane, were getting their hair cut at the same time. They told me they had a gig that night, the reason I was doing his hair. You know, I didn’t have a big social circle, I would go out with my girlfriend Holly but I never had many friends in Manchester. The gig was around the corner from where we both lived, so we both headed up. I didn’t know what to expect, but I went down purely to make sure Jack didn’t touch his hair! When they came on stage, they just had this presence, and I knew I wanted that too as there was a sound within them that I knew I could extract and work on. Reuben just oozes this kind of star presence, he’s cool like, and a fantastic singer.
J: Then he hit us up after the gig, gave us a free hair cut for recording with him. I recorded his verse on this track.
P: Aye, that was it. I wanted to record on this track so I said I’ll give you a free hair cut if you let me record with you. I just wanted to see what the process was like, go see the studio, see Jack at work.
J: Well this was another deal maker. My studio in Manchester is literally right next door to where Phil lives.
P: Can you see a pattern emerging? It was literally like fate.
J: Philip came down, I’d be working on the tune, Phil would be doing Reuben’s hair. After that, Reuben would go in and sing as I got my hair done, mix up the tune with Phil’s lyrics and then bang we had a tune! Then I was like, hey let’s do something more. Me and Reuben, at this time, wanted to start recording with other people. Phil paid us a bit of money, and then we started the EP. The first phase of it, we didn’t actually connect properly, until me and [Phil] started going to the studio on our own. Then we listened to the Stranger Things album, like 80s vibe, and connected on this level, especially when we made the tune ‘Church Music for Aliens’. That point it worked.
- Where did ‘Philth Like’ come from? Does this reflect how you describe your sound?
P: Well it’s me name, and I say like all the time! ‘Philth’, listen to my lyrics. It’s just horrible reality, it is candid. My lyrics are pretty graphic descriptions of life, of life here. Not necessarily subjective to being [in Sunderland], I’m just trying to make it as relatable as possible. A variety of people can draw from, they can relate from their own personal experiences. Even if it can be seen from a person that they know. My music is very biographical, autobiographical. Life is ‘filthy like’.
As for our sound, it sounds like growth. We haven’t stuck to the norm, we haven’t cohered with every artist in the charts. We wanted to be different, and I think the 3 of us have achieved that.
- When are the new releases out, especially World Wide Waster?
P: 4th of May will be our new single. I want to roll out 4 singles, then drop the 8 track EP in June. That will be Jack’s 24th birthday, also in time for Tipping Point Live, so ready for the festival. The EP itself tells a story. We’ll be working on more stuff before the summer since the EP is just sitting there, it’s exciting times!
- Finally, two random questions! If you could be any animal what would you be?
J: A mountain goat. Just being able to stand on the side of a mountain is mint!
P: I’d be an albatross. Just to be able to soar across the world and see everything, I guess that’s how I what my life to be. To get the chance to see everything.
- If you weren’t a musician, what do you reckon you’d be doing?
J: I guess I’d be a chef.
P: Jack is a great chef! I’ve named him the best Sunday roast maker since me granny! I would be doing what I’m doing now, a barber. I enjoy the process and seeing the end outcome. It’s great.
After our Q&A, we headed back over SB Barbering Academy to watch a demo by Philip on Jack’s hair. Unreal skills shown by himself, I can see why Jack has been following him around for the past few years. The bromance was real, a true connection, and two very down to earth guys. Can’t wait to catch them at Tipping Point Live!
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