PHFAT explains why he took a break & why he came back ahead of RARE CASSETTE this weekend in Cape Town

PHFAT just wants to do cool shit. At least someone in this sleepy town does.

The first RARE CASSETTE gig, at The Factory on 83 Auckland Street in Paarden Eiland, features PHFAT, Honeymoan and Internet Girl with support from the groovy miscreants from After Hours and Dirty Disco.

This is PHFAT’s foray into doing that aforementioned cool shit. Nathan Levinrad caught up with him ahead of this weekend’s event to find out what exactly he’s been doing because it’s been a while.

Nathan Levinrad: It’s been a while since we’ve seen anything from PHFAT. What have you been up to?

Mike Zietsman: I was in active hiding. I was sick of being in the public eye. And the longer I was away from it the less excited I was to be back in the public eye. It’s a weird feeling because attention is so commodified these days. 

Workwise, it was stressful at first but I really did enjoy the peace and quiet. Friday nights with friends instead of at clubs and festivals, waking up early on a Sunday just to jog, that sort of thing. I also found myself hanging out with far fewer musicians. This is all a very long way of saying I took a break from being an active full-time musician. 

I even turned down some well-paying shows. However, I don’t think you can switch off the creative part of your personality for a very long time. I eventually started to fall asleep and fantasize about ways to put out new music or cool projects I could do. I started to imagine the possibilities again. And that’s why you’ve been hearing more and more from your old pal again recently.

NL: You’ve been mastering for other people as well haven’t you?

MZ: Yip. That was some of the work I was doing while I was in hiding. I’ve also been helping people record vocals and doing things like additional production and even some sync work. Mastering is the thing I enjoy most probably. 

It puts you in the studio with so many people from so many different scenes. Especially younger musicians. The track I’m putting out next is called “get out my head” and it was the almost direct result of mastering a track for aboynamedblu called “Charismatic Lad”.

Musically the songs are unrelated but mastering that track was just such a good reminder to break the rules, musically and technically. It’s a strange place to derive inspiration but it’s pretty damn real.

NL: We’ve seen finger puppets of psychologists in your studio. Tell us about that.

MZ: That’s how we sort out conflict in the studio. With finger puppets of Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, Carl Jung and Couch.

NL: You said you were releasing a track last week – what happened?

MZ: I’m not sure if the track is too loud or if it cut too suddenly but it was rejected by the aggregator. It’s been uploaded with no real compromises–I turned it down by 1db and it’s still my loudest track by maybe 60 or 70%. I’m just waiting for it to go live now. I’m fucking excited for it to come out. I wrote it with Josh Berry from HONEYMOAN in about three hours and we literally didn’t touch anything. We didn’t even mix it. I’m still not sure if it’s a song or a scientific experiment.

NL: Mike, apparently you embarrassed yourself for a long time in Afrikaans. What happened?

MZ: For a very long time, I would tell people “Ek wil jou later sien.” When I was trying to saying goodbye and intended to see them later (‘I’ll see you later). Turns out I was saying “I want to see you later” and that’s the story about how I freaked out a bunch of people in Afrikaans towns. Until one day Luc [Veermeer] started laughing and told me what I was actually saying.

NL: We know you’re a part of the Rare Cassette team. What is that and how did it come about?

MZ: Basically, we just wanted to throw a standout show. It’s been such a long time since anyone has done something cool with live music in Cape Town. The thought of doing another run-of-the-mill club show makes me want to go back into hiding. And we only wanted to do something if we could make it very very special. We’d been looking at the viability of a show and the space kind of fell into our lap while we were costing sound. It’s SO dope and we just knew that we had to make it happen.

NL: Who is the next shit hot act in town?

MZ: MOONGA K has the voice, the performance and the raw talent to pop off as soon as he’s in front of a big enough crowd. It’s a matter of time. He was electric at Daisies this weekend even though he was the second act on the Mainstage. 

That field was empty before he walked on. Half the audience only watched because they were walking past and had probably never heard of him. Like. He has enough raw talent to do that type of thing. The type of dude who could open for some big international and win the audience even with all of the limitations they put on opening acts at those events.

Aboynamedblu has something super unique and unexpected about him, it’ll be a slow burner but I think we’ll blink one day and he’ll have his whole own lane.

I’ve also thrown my coin in the jar for Internet Girl a bunch of times. They’re pure chaos which is why we booked them for this weekend at Rare Cassette

NL: What’s next for PHFAT?

MZ: Lots of music. I would love to get back to do some good shows and writing sessions in Europe and I would love to throw some more premium events in SA. In the immediate term, the focus is new music. I have a ton in the vault.

Buy tickes for RARE CASSETTE here.

Feature pic courtesy of MJ Johnson.

Pic by John Second