Phrase be­gins new chap­ter

The Aussie rap­per has been in a dark place re­cently but with his new al­bum’s re­lease the artist looks set to put his demons be­hind him, writes Nui Te Koha

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - BABY­LON ( Mar­lin Records)

CLOCK­WORK, rap­per Phrase’s 2009 al­bum, al­most killed him – twice.

First, it had a hellish ges­ta­tion. Phrase made the al­bum in 2007 but it was put on hold in­def­i­nitely.

De­pressed and des­per­ate, Phrase ( pic­tured) asked Triple J mu­sic di­rec­tor Richard Kingsmill for sup­port and got it.

Kingsmill green-lit air­play for songs Clock­work, Sky­light and Space­ship, forc­ing Phrase’s record com­pany to re­lease the al­bum.

But two years of tour­ing to sup­port the al­bum took its toll.

‘‘ I par­tied too much and was outta con­trol,’’ Phrase, born Har­ley Web­ster, says.

‘‘ The shows went from packed and amaz­ing to less peo­ple and sh----y.

‘‘ I was get­ting wasted be­cause I had noth­ing else to do.’’

And other thoughts be­gan haunt­ing Phrase.

‘‘ I hadn’t writ­ten a new record. There was noth­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘ This was af­ter promis­ing my­self I wouldn’t leave my­self with­out new mu­sic. I’d promised my­self I’d be pre­pared. Once again, I didn’t have s---.’’

The pro­fes­sional lows were coun­tered by per­sonal highs. Phrase mar­ried singer Jade Macrae late last year.

‘‘ It was emo­tional and in­tense,’’ Phrase says.

‘‘ It was a mile­stone for me in terms of mov­ing on, like start­ing a new chap­ter.

‘‘ I feel like I’ve started to be­come more re­spon­si­ble not in the sense of pay­ing my bills . . . but as a young man.

‘‘ I have peo­ple who rely on me my wife, for one, and my fam­ily and friends.

‘‘ I am try­ing my best to be a good per­son in­stead of the id­iot think­ing about my­self only.’’

Soon af­ter the wed­ding, Phrase trav­elled alone to Bali to write his new al­bum, Baby­lon.

It is a rev­e­la­tion, not only for its in­die rock swag­ger, but Phrase’s dis­clo­sures about a life of ad­dic­tion. He is now see­ing a psy­chol­o­gist to deal with those is­sues.

‘‘ He has helped me join the dots on a few things. I had a drug ad­dic­tion and that ad­dic­tive cy­cle has be­come part of my per­son­al­ity,’’ Phrase says.

Af­ter tour­ing Clock­work, Phrase felt trapped in a funk.

‘‘ I couldn’t get out of that headspace. Even when I was happy there was this un­der­ly­ing feel­ing of un­hap­pi­ness,’’ he says.

‘‘ So, for the first time ever, I’m see­ing some­body to work through all that . . .

‘‘ I was em­bar­rassed. I kept think­ing: ‘ I’m not a psy­chopath. I’m all right’.

‘‘ Now, I’m aware of my own be­hav­iour. I’ll call my­self on that.’’

He is also learn­ing to de­tach from the Phrase per­sona.

Har­ley Web­ster re­cently signed a song­writ­ing deal with EMI to work out­side the rap realm.

Baby­lon is the per­fect start, but not sur­pris­ing.

Space­ship, a jagged lit­tle thrill from Clock­work, got huge re­ac­tions at the live shows, so Phrase knew it was a good jumpoff point for the next al­bum.

He soaked up garage rock in­flu­ences and started rap­ping over Kinks songs in the car. But is it hip-hop? ‘‘ I don’t know what it is,’’ Phrase shrugs. ‘‘ I wouldn’t call it hip-hop. There is rap on it. But I feel like, more than ever be­fore, they’re ac­tu­ally songs.’’

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