PHRASE – The Clock’s Ticking


“In life when you die, on your tombstone there are like two dates – birth date and when you die,” Phrase begins. “In between is what matters. What sort of legacy are we leaving behind? I would like to leave some kind of legacy behind. Want to do something with my music career, to leave footprints in someone’s mind.”

Phrase the villain goes to work against the system and opens up to the inner workings ofClockwork, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Originally named Burn It Down but re-badged after the devastating fires in Victoria, Phrase favoured the broader theme of battling the rat race, beating it or conforming to it. Off the nine-to-five routine, the Melbourne-bred MC lets out what Clockwork means to him.

“The huge change in my life over the last five years,” Phrase turns the big hand back briefly. “Growing up, responsibilities and becoming a man. It is easy to get caught up in the nine-to-five grind – what the system says that you should be doing. [I’m] keeping it individualistic, being my own person.”

During the lifespan of his debut album Talk With Force Phrase worked as a furniture removalist, but after an ARIA nomination and due recognition he was afforded the late hour full-time career as an MC with nothing but time when it came to making Clockwork. The concept of the album is derived from a passionate awareness of being under the thumb of the systematic wheels of time, and certain grievances are aired out through this latest body of work.

The title track is eloquently rapped over the infectious groove of ‘Windmills Of My Mind’, sampled when Jackson Jackson’s J-Skub dusted off the old record – ironically it was the last track added to the project, and went on to become one of the year’s highest rotators on Triple J “I loved it,” Phrase recalls. “I said ‘Dude, I really need this right now. This could make the last song of the record.’ He said that he would give me three days to write something amazing over it. I went away and was under that pressure, but it could be that that pressure really made me work at it.”

Phrase was feeling the appropriate preamble for a timeless hit through his lyrics, “In the hope I write a track that might be a saviour/At least just enough to get me outta here/To the safe house with about a thousand beers.” Also pulling for the  album’s buying power, Phrase revisited an old Aussie ballad in revamping Wendy Matthews for ‘Day You Went Away’.

“I grew up on that song, as a kid,” Phrase says. “I loved it. I had a crush on a girl in the video. I sampled it and had to speed it up. I got the demo to her, she got back to me: ‘My god. I love what you are doing. You gave that song a whole new life.’ She came to the studio, let’s do it. It was great having her in the studio.”

Fresh from his support slots for N.E.R.D in southern parts, the time right now is his. As for tomorrow? Who knows, but Phrase isn’t ruling out a trip abroad to expand his musical vision.

“If by a chance this is my last record, I am going to make sure that I am doing exactly what I want to do,” the MC says with serious intent. “I am definitely set up to make something different. “At the end of a day, I have to make sure that I am happy with what I am doing and I will do it as long as I can.”



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