“A live-looping frenzy” (Artrocker Mag UK), Phia creates a truly genre-defying experience on stage right before your very eyes - looping her african kalimba with rhythmic, pop-tinged hooks, she layers beat-boxing and hand claps to weave a unique sonic palette supporting her swooping, lush vocals.
Phia (born Sophia Exiner) studied improvisation, composition and piano at the Victorian College of the Arts before relocating to Berlin in 2011. There she departed from her classically-trained roots to forge a new sound in DIY-folk, honing her remarkable live-looping show over hundreds of performances and festivals in Europe and Australia, including: Grampians Music Festival 2018; St Kilda Fest 2017; Berlin Festival 2015; Fusion Festival Germany 2012, 2013 & 2014. She has also performed on national television in Australia (Spicks & Specks 2014) and Germany (TV Noir 2014).
Her newest release is The Woman Who Counted The Stars EP, described as “…a cosmic experience buzzing with sonic energy” (Happy Mag) and "Flowing from [...] minimal loops to stadium-scaled grandeur” by Rolling Stone Magazine (Australia).
The new EP encapsulates Phia’s ferocious creativity, with the five tracks brimming with layers of glitter and grit, heralding the arrival of a bold new sound for the Melbourne-born singer- songwriter. Pulsing, distorted drums and intergalactic juno synths collide with fuzz guitar and vintage casio keyboards, as Phia’s longtime production collaborator Josh The Cat realises a sonic vision that manages to be both lush, raw, and emotionally affecting. Phia’s effortlessly charismatic, crystal-clear vocal soars
The Woman Who Counted the Stars EP is a rapid fire follow up to her debut album The Ocean of Everything, which was released in August 2016.
Featuring the kalimba, an instrument she has made her own through her unique use of it through effect pedals and loops, Phia recorded the album in her then-home of Berlin at the famous Funkhaus studios and mixed it in New York, U.S by Eli Crews (Tune-Yards, Deerhoof, Dear Reader) with the aid of a successful crowdfunding campaign, Double J hailed the album as “bright, catchy as hell pop”, with Dom Alessio (Triple J) declaring it “a bundle of joy”.
Last year Phia was a co-recipient of an Australian Council grant along with fellow singer-songwriter Georgia Fields. They embarked on a 20+ national Sky & Sea tour, lending their distinctive sound to each other’s material in a one-off, fully-collaborative live show, accompanying one another on everything from kalimba to casio, electric guitar to tambourine.
This tour was one of three for the indefatigable artist, after the Sky & Sea tour, Phia left for Europe, where she played a whirlwind 18 shows around Germany, the UK and Austria in support of her new EP, and her final tour for the year saw her deliver her unique live-looping show to 5 of Australia’s capital cities.
2018 has started off with a bang, with a band appearance at Grampians Music Festival and a new gig performing and writing for Australia’s own subversive and radical Circus Oz.
Phia also founded contemporary choir Melbourne Indie Voices in February 2016, which has a focus on connecting amateur musicians with a love of singing with the wider Melbourne music community. Since forming in 2016 MIV has performed live on ABC 774, showcased at Melbourne Music Week 2016, and been featured on ABC News Online. In 2017 MIV performed at the Melbourne Town Hall collaborating with iconic Australian voices Paul Kelly, Paul Dempsey (Something For Kate) and Vika and Linda Bull and jumped up on stage for Ali Barter’s two sold-out album launches.