Posted On 21 Apr 2016
Tag: Alex Greewald, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Betty Blue, Beyonce, Bright Eyes, Cooler, electro, electro pop, Ethan Tobman, I'm In Love With My Life, Jason Boesel, Jay-Z, Jessica Alba, JJAMZ, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Mark Ronson, Michael Runion, Nylon, OK Go, Phantom Planet, PHASES, Pop, Rilo Kiley, Taylor Swift, The Honest Co., The Like, Warner Bros, Warner Bros. Records, Warner Brothers, Warner Brothers Records, WBR, Z Berg
PHASES is Z Berg (The Like), Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley/Bright Eyes), Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet/Mark Ronson), and songwriter Michael Runion. They wrote and recorded previously under the name JJAMZ, and after some time apart, worked on new material in Alex’s living room, and will be releasing their Warner Brothers Records debut in early fall.
The band filmed a video singing and dancing in reverse for single, “I’m In Love With My Life,” directed by Ethan Tobman (Jay-Z/Beyonce, OK Go, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift). The video premiered at NYLON, who called the track “your new morning mantra,” Buzzfeed deemed it one of their ‘Pop Songs You Can’t Miss This Summer,’ and Flavorwire said it was one of the ‘5 Best New Songs We’ve Heard This Week.’ Jessica Alba also sings along to it in her new video for The Honest Co.!
PHASES also just released two brand-new tracks, “Betty Blue” and “Cooler“.
PHASES is the result of four friends listening to the universe and working tirelessly to make their dream a reality. For all the serendipity and magic involved, the real through line was a year of the hardest work and most prolific collaboration any of the group had ever experienced. The result is a party album culled from all the best moments of its players’ favorite decades, a cosmic validation of shared creativity, and turning past struggle and strife into excitement and pure joy. Without the trust in their own abilities together and apart, without each domino falling into its right place, without simply believing in the power of a daydream, who knows what the universe would have had up its sleeve?
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to catch up with leading lady, Z. Berg to discover more about the bands journey and what lies ahead. Read more in their interview below!
Hi! I’m doing quite well thank you! I’ve got the day off today and I’m going to take my boyfriend to the hospital to have his broken hand reset.
How did you guys all meet? Are you all from Los Angeles originally?
We are all pretty much from LA or its surrounding areas. Man, we’ve known each other for so long now! I met Alex when I was 13 years old. My dad took me to go see his band, Phantom Planet. I literally had a picture of them on my wall as a kid. Michael, I met because I found a zine that he had written and sold to my parents and it was so funny I emailed him because I thought we should be friends. He then went on to date with my sister.
I met Jason I believe once I started The Like (my old band) and started playing around town with Phantom Planet and Rilo Kiley and whatnot. We all started hanging out through the scene of bands we were all playing in. And over the years we became really close friends and then started the band.
What made you want to form PHASES? Who or what was the catalyst to form the band with one another?
When we started playing together (under the moniker JJAMZ) it was really because we hung out all the time anyway and it occurred to us one night, out on the town at karaoke, that we had all the makings of a band, and instead of just hanging out and doing nothing productive, we could get some music out of it!
You have performed with so many talented artists in all your various other bands. Who would you love to collaborate and tour with next? Who is on your dream list music or otherwise?
DJ Mustard, Major Lazer, Daft Punk, Justice, CHVRCHES, Prince, Primal Scream… I mean, if we’re dreaming… Leos Carax, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Amis… And I would like to marry Keira Knightley. I love this dream.
Who have been your inspirations growing up that also inspire you today
John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Dusty Springfield, my parents, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Adam Sandler, Buffy the Vampire Slayer…
What is your songwriting process like? Do you all share writing duties as far as the lyrics go?
Every song really comes about in a different way. Some of them are brought in pretty fully formed by one of us and then we all proceed to finish them together, some of them are written with all of us in a room spit-balling, or someone writes the melodies and someone writes the lyrics.
One song started as a song Mike brought in to the group, Alex made it into a track, sent it to me and I wrote a whole other song over it without ever having heard the first one. It’s pretty exciting to realize that songs can be written a million different ways.
What was the inspiration for your new single, “I’m In Love With My Life”?
The track was one of the earliest in this batch of new songs, and it was one that Mike Elizondo (who co-produced the record with Alex) was extremely enthusiastic about. But we could never write the right song over it. We tried over and over with no real luck.
Then one day we were working on another song at Alex’s house, a ballad that would later become a song called “Spark”, and Jason yelled something from the kitchen. Alex stopped playing, stood up, and said, “Did you just say ‘I’m in love with my life’??” And Jason said, “Nope!” Alex then proceeded to sing it over that track all day (partially in jest) and then over every other track for the next couple days until it occurred to him that perhaps this was the key to the unfinished early jam of which Elizondo was so fond.
It just seemed like such an aptly fun and funny, sincere and silly sentiment to encapsulate the pretty deeply joyous process of writing and recording this record.
The video for “I’m In Love With My Life” was directed by the very talented Ethan Tobman and shows the band singing and dancing in reverse. Did you help come up with the treatment for the video? Any funny stories you can relay from set?
The treatment came entirely from the brilliant brain of Ethan and we were immediately bowled over by his enthusiasm, his vision, and the feeling that this concept matched the feeling of the song itself.
Making this video was about as surreal an experience I’ve ever had. Waking up every morning for weeks with the song stuck in our heads backwards, dropping a car from the sky in the middle of the desert, countless bruises and cracked ribs, hands cut by smashed disco balls, acrobats and dancers and skateboarders flying through the air… It was pretty psychedelic.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
Loving the new Family of the Year record that will come out at the end of summer, We love Jenny Lewis’ record and Blake Mills’ new record. I’ve been listening to tons of Richard Hawley’s solo records. Roxy Music, Robert Palmer, Gordon Lightfoot, Michael Jackson, Linda Perhacs… Always a pretty eclectic mix.
What’s on tap next for you guys? What are you most excited about for this year?
Very excited for the record to come out and to get out on the road. We’ve just started playing shows and my GOD is it fun. Phases shows are the kind of party you’ll want to go to, I promise.
PHASES ON TOUR
7/21 New York, NY – The Studio @ Webster
7/31 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
8/1 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater
8/2 Seattle, WA – Barboza
8/7 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
8/8 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
8/9 Colardo Springs, CO – The Black Sheep
8/11 Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock Live
To learn more about PHASES visit the band HERE .