PHASES finds success in creating throwback ’80s music
Indie pop band PHASES was created at a karaoke bar. A group of close friends decided the bar was too crowded — so they went home and formed a band. After coming from unique beginnings, the band also has found success in its unique sound.
PHASES’s latest singles, “I’m in Love with My Life,” “Betty Blue” and “Cooler,” are a combination reminiscent of ’80s synth dance music intertwined with modern-day pop and backed by killer instrumentation. The band, which is planning to release a new album in September, has already released an EP of multiple remixes of its hit single, “I’m in Love with My Life.”
The members of PHASES — Alex Greenwald, Jason Boesel, Michael Runion and Z Berg — have all previously played in different bands. PHASES, formerly known as JJAMZ, was considered a side project for the group members, a casual place to create and experiment with music. Each member’s experience and talent, culled from extensive previous musical experience, shines through, and the band is proud of its music’s advanced composition and musicality. Expertly crafted guitar and piano beats collide with Jason Boesel’s killer drums. Lead singer Z Berg has a voice of a pop diva that is joined on the album by harmonies from the male members of the group.
“I feel like our music shoots the glass,” said Runion of the band’s sound.
Nothing too sharp, though.
“But it’s comfortable, like taking your shoes off and rubbing your feet against the carpet,” Greenwald added.
The group dynamic is typical of Southern California natives: laid back, relaxed and hilarious. The members’ constant jokes and banter mesh with the distinct personalities of the four individuals. Their harmonious vibe has resulted in a natural creative process. Since the beginning, their self-produced and self-written music has been organic and natural.
“It was like the easiest writing process,” Berg said. “We literally got there, laid down some drums, recorded some instruments over it, and I went into the vocal booth-slash-shower, and then we were all like, ‘Okay, that worked.’ Then we put it on MySpace.”
After establishing a well-defined sound, the band needed a name to reflect its aesthetic and sound.
“We were formerly called JJAMZ, and we developed a new sound,” Berg said. “And, the first meeting we had with our manager, she sat down with us and she said, ‘I really love this record… The first thing I thought when I was listening to it was that I was being transported to being a teenager in the mid ’80s and going to this underage dance club called Phases, and I just heard you guys playing over the speakers.’”
Since their first album, Suicide Pact in 2012, the band has achieved success and recognition. PHASES has been signed by Warner Bros., their music has debuted on MySpace promos and they have been featured in the top-40 list for “Alternative Tracks” on Spotify.
PHASES has been touring the country, even recently performing at a pool party at The Standard Hotel Hollywood for the Fourth of July. Audience members, clothed in bathing suits, danced around with drinks in hand. The band’s primary goal is to make its music exciting and fun. And the audience’s reactions proved that its music is just that.
“[The musical inspiration] was something that excited me either in a dance way, in a song structure, or in an intelligently composed way. And if it stayed exciting, it was something that wound up on the album,” Greenwald said. “It had to be something that we were excited about. And in one sense, it maintained and even grew in excitement.”
With such passionate individuals, working within a group can be difficult. The members of PHASES, however, have utilized their differences to create exciting content.
“If your friends are open to communication, criticism and your own criticism, the perspective one can gain comes from more heads than one,” Greenwald said.
Berg said that criticism can be of the utmost importance.
“[It] is so invaluable,” he said. “It is so easy to get completely lost in your own head when you are working by yourself.”