With a rich and sweeping sound that sees him follow in the footsteps of the likes of Damien Rice, Ben Howard and Michael Kiwanuka, Belgium-based singer and songwriter Diego Philips now returns to his bright and uplifting ways with the delightful new single Smile.
Blending euphoric guitar licks and his own honey-coated vocals, Smile sets itself as a wonderfully blissful slice of sun-kissed joy. Lifted from his latest album Tides, he looks to help us forget about the troubling world outside and bring a much-needed smile to our faces.
So with his new single doing the rounds right now, we sat down with him to find out more about his ambitions and what has inspired him most over the years.
Hi Diego, how are you today?
I’m good thank you, trying to keep busy all the time. I’ve been doing fine so far even if sometimes I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
For those that haven’t heard of you yet, how would you best describe your sound and who have been your biggest influences so far?
I guess a good word to describe it is soothing. When I’m writing I try to keep that element in mind. The result is a warm sound that relates to human feelings. I am inspired by other singer-songwriters such as Damien Rice or Michael Kiwanuka, but also bands like The Beatles or Pink Floyd. It’s important for me to find lyrics that everyone can relate to, a tradition coming from folk music and songwriters like Dylan or Cohen. I like to think of my music as an introspective experience for the listener where they can fully immerse themselves in the sound.
You have just released your new single ‘Smile’. Can you tell us how that track came about?
‘Smile’ is the most upbeat track on the album. It is about the first feeling of love you can feel when you meet someone new. Frightened by your emotional baggage but excited to experience a new beginning. A period of time where everything is possible, and love takes over your life.
And was there a particular style you were looking for when you wrote it?
I was looking for something simple and joyful, kind of like a Devendra Banhart song, and I think it shows in the final product. The bouncy vibe will take you on a journey where your feelings are the most important element. The crescendo at the end of the song portrays that. You should be able to open some gates inside of yourself, and embark on an adventure with someone without asking yourself too many questions.
It is also lifted from your new album ‘Tides’. What was the inspiration behind that release?
“Tides” is the continuation of that idea, but it explores different waves of feelings. We created the album like a journey. Something to be listened to in full. It has topics and themes that we all come across in our lives, such as grief, anger and ego. I like to think that the album has waves, hence the name. The emotions inside the songs go from quiet and soft to loud and angry – similar to our inner turmoils.
And were you pleased with how it turned out?
So far, we’ve received some great feedback! Both in Belgium where I was born and in the UK, where I currently live. It’s fascinating to watch something you have created grow in its own existence. Some songs like ‘Smile’ take their independence by detaching themselves from the album. One song is getting some attention which I didn’t expect. ‘A Song’ is an intense 8-minute track on the album and the audience are really relating to it which is beautiful to see.
I truly believe that there is something to take from listening to the entire album in your own time, with your eyes closed and letting the waves crash against the rocks of your own existence. But there is a sense of beauty and pride in seeing people create emotional attachments to individual songs as well.
The coronavirus outbreak has obviously affected everyone’s plans, but what have you got in store for the rest of the year?
We still have some material to release, particularly a few videos. We’re about to release a video for the ‘In The Dark’ and we have a beautiful animation ready for ‘When I Feel The Moon’. We hope to shoot a video for ‘A Song’ soon with photographer Amir Mahdavi.
I seriously hope that we are going to be able to start touring again soon and share the songs with the audience.
On a different note, James Yates (the producer) and I have already finished the next album. It’s just sitting on my hard drive, but the approach and the ethos behind this new project are completely different. We are currently working with a team of 6 volunteers to bring this project to life. It will be visually orientated, but I will leave your imagination to do the rest because I’m not going to say too much.
And finally, what are you hoping to achieve as an artist in the years to come?
I really hope I will be able to find an audience that resonates with my music and keep building this relationship. I truly believe in the power of music and its ability to heal and help people. I want to keep bringing people together and show them that it is OK to feel things and to express them.
Diego Philips’ new single ‘Smile’, alongside his new full-length ‘Tides’, is available to stream and download now. Check out the new video for it below.