DJ Profile: Phil B’s Potent Mix of House, Trance & Pop
Pleasuredome and Aftershock gave Phil a chance to develop his sound and grow from just being a T-Dance HI-NRG DJ to late-night, deeper sounds with more soul and drive. But it would be the Mass parties at Club 1015 on Folsom Street where he really made his mark.
Teaming up with the producer Gus Presents in 1996, these T-dances packed the crowds every Sunday. Eventually, Mass expanded to other cities, including Los Angeles. In San Francisco, Phil B. is still associated with Mass’ annual New Year’s Day "recovery" parties.
A mix of disco, ’80s music, ’90s Italo-house, trance, House of various stripes, and diva dance anthems, Phil’s describes his musical style as "constant evolution." He loves to take the dancers on a "journey," while also reading the crowd’s collective mood.
"Dance parties are a lot like a chess game," explains Phil. "You have to be thinking several moves ahead, and thinking about how you want your opponent to move."
The perfect analogy for leading a dance party from the decks, Phil watches his crowd, gauges the response and reacts accordingly. He steers them towards the destination he desires. It’s all strategy.
"I am always on the hunt for a new version of a popular track, something no one else has played, or that you have probably not heard very often," he explains.
Phil is happily involved with his partner of over 17 years, with whom he shares a home in San Francisco.
When he relaxes, it’s often with a DVD of the British series "Doctor Who." He owns one of the most respected and photographed collections of "Doctor Who" memorabilia, covering many years of the esoteric sci-fi character.
There’s another partner in Phil B’s life. No, not a three-way, but for the past three years, East Coast DJ Twisted Dee has joined Phil as a turntable tag team. Their styles of music and personalities have meshed so well that the duo has become twined in promoters’ minds.
They have played gigs like the Tea Dance for the mammoth Ascension Weekend on Fire Island, and Avalon in Los Angeles on July Fourth Weekend. One of the advantages of the "tag team" system is that two DJs can spot each other for bathroom and rest breaks.
But it means more than that for these two: It’s an overlap and complementing of styles. Katherine Hepburn famously said about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, that he gave her class and she gave him sex. Well, not quite applicable: But Dee plays a dark, sexy, near-tribal sound, while Phil is more trance, House with those diva anthems. The result is a sound that keeps both the drum-and-bass and the hands-in-the-air crowds pleased.
Phil continues to spend a great deal of time in studio, where he re-masters music he plan to spin at his gigs. He knows the difference it makes to take a track and fine tune it for a sound system to ensure that his listeners get the most out of his music. Phil recently completed work on some new tracks with Debby Holiday, including "Never Give Up" (http://www.beatport.com/release/never-give-up/869129).
Phil B has several big gigs planned for this spring, including the launch of a new event called Anthem. "This event will showcase my sound, and will be an evening where I can play the entire journey," Phil said. Anthem will be something new for San Francisco, with the vocals, sing-a-long and happy tracks in an amazing club.
He will also be part showing off his late night sound at Gus Presents’ "Sanctuary" on Memorial Day weekend at Club 1015, the home of the original Mass parties.