Phia - Artist Support Materials
Australia Council Grant Application

Artist Biography

Classically-trained singer-songwriter Phia makes music brimming with luscious layers of harmonies, vocal percussion and vivid pop sensibilities.

Recorded in Berlin at the famous Funkhaus Studios and mixed in New York by Eli Crews (Tune-Yards; Deerhoof; Dear Reader), her debut album ‘The Ocean of Everything’ is one of breathtaking beauty and joy, capturing Phia’s fascination and curiousity in the world around her and inside of her, with the pure sound of her African kalimba enhanced by electric guitar lines, deep synth bass and beats. 

Trained from a young age as a jazz pianist, Phia combines a formidable musical pedagogy with her passion for telling stories. She graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Music (hons) in 2008, specialising in piano and improvisation. 

In 2008 she was a co-recipient of the Alan C. Rose Scholarship, which funded the production of a debut album for contemporary improvising trio OK OK OK’s debut album, of which she was co-leader and contributed several original compositions. 

In 2009 she was awarded the Lionel Gell Travelling Scholarship, which enabled Phia to visit the U.S and study extended piano technique in person with acclaimed contemporary pianists Amy Williams and Amy Briggs.

In 2011 Phia discovered the kalimba – a small, tuned percussion instrument from South Africa. The compact nature of the kalimba, combined with infinite live arrangement possibilities (thanks to a loop and octave pedals), inspired Phia to buy a one-way ticket to Europe and take up residence in the cultural mecca of Berlin. 

This leap into the unknown led Phia and her incredible live-looping show around the world, playing hundreds of performances – from bars in Southern Italy, to fisherman’s villages in Iceland, and major music festival stages, including Melt Festival, Berlin Festival and Fusion Festival Germany. She has also performed on national television in Australia (Spicks and Specks) and Germany (TV Noir). 

In 2013 Phia was the recipient of a “Musicboard Berlin” stipendium, a prestigious government grant awarded to Berlin residents making an integral contribution to the city’s vibrant music scene. Thanks to this support, Phia was able to embark on the recording of her debut solo album ‘The Ocean of Everything’, collaborating with producer/guitarist and Australian ex-pat Joshua Teicher. The album showcases Phia’s lucid lyricism and conversational melodicism, weaving a patchworked landscape of imagery, memories and reflections as she searched for her identity in her new home of Europe, which was also the home of her ancestors. 

In 2014 she was invited by Rolling Stone Magazine Germany to record a cover of David Bowie’s song ‘As The World Falls Down’ for a special CD compilation distributed by the magazine.

After nearly 5 years in Europe, Phia returned to Australia in 2016, and hit the ground running – that same year she was named a highlight of the Sydney Road Street Party and was nominated for a Melbourne Music Prize Development Award. She toured her album through Australia, Germany and the UK, and has an upcoming appearance at the 2017 St Kilda Festival.

Phia is the founder and creative director of Melbourne Indie Voices, a new contemporary pop ensemble performing innovative vocal arrangements (composed by Phia herself) of independent and emerging artists from Melbourne and abroad. The community choir connects amateur vocalists with the local music scene, and has grown to over 50 members strong since being founded in 2016. Melbourne Indie Voices has performed at Leaps + Bounds Festival, Boite Singers Festival, been featured on ABC News, and also performed on ABC Radio Melbourne with Clare Bowditch.

Press quotes

 “Heartstrings' is bright, catchy as hell pop done with absolute surety from Phia. It's the sort of confidence and conviction to a sound that lands songs on big-money TV ads and establishes promising careers. Both are infinitely possible for Phia”
Double J
“[Heartstrings] is a bundle of joy.”
Dom Alessio, Triple J
“...great expectations for Phia’s debut album”.
Rolling Stone Magazine (Germany)
A lovely and clearly a very exportable proposition. From Later with Jools to the Festival Hall, it is not difficult to imagine Phia playing them all.”
Artrocker Magazine (UK)

“Phia has been getting a lot of attention here in Berlin…and the room is currently 100% spellbound with her right now”
Sounds Australia

Selected Audio/Visual Material


Click to enlarge