Robokid and Phem talk their new two-side, Judge Me / I Miss U
The two parties link up for a pair of singles released through US collective and label Moving Castle.
Photo by Michael Tyrone Delaney.
After last year's break-out single 23, this year's radio-friendly track Next Year and a slew of remixes since, LA-based producer, singer-songwriter and label co-owner Robokid has returned with a pair of singles Judge Me / I Miss U. The collaborative two-side sees the Moving Castle name link up with emerging vocalist phem, who you may recognise from vocal features with names including G-Eazy and gnash over the past 12 months or so, for a pair of quite varied but incredibly exciting singles. Judge Me, the leading single of the pair, is a menacing and warped electro-pop banger, with Robokid crafting a glitching, futuristic production which kicks behind phem's commanding vocal line. Judge Me is the more unique single of the two, leading the charge with an assertive tone which flicks you into control with its crisp percussion whips and deep punches of bass before Robokid and phem tone things down a touch for the more mellow B-side I Miss U.
With a large upcoming 12 months planned for both parties involved with the two-sided single, we sent both Robokid and phem a couple of questions about how the collaboration came about, what they have planned for the year ahead, and a few other bits and pieces. Check it out underneath the stream embed below, and if you're a fan, make sure to head out to LA's Union to see Robokid (with Hoodboi + more) on the 28th of this month.
Hey team! Congrats on the new two-sided single. Can you walk us through how the collaboration came about?
Robokid: I met phem at a studio session that my manager set up, he showed me a few of her demos and I really connected with what she was doing. After that initial session, we just started hanging out at her studio and making a bunch of songs. Judge Me and I Miss U are actually two of our newest songs but we have a lot more and we’re going to put them out soon.
Phem: Robokid is a really talented producer and I think we clicked really quickly and organically. His production is really emotional and thoughtful. We also get along really well andIi feel comfortable being myself with him.
What were the dynamics in working with one another on the two tracks?
R: When we make songs together generally I just have a bunch of beats and then let phem listen to whatever is like the newest of them. For Judge Me, I actually made the beat with her in mind knowing I was going to be hanging with her later on that day. I was kinda pissed that my laptop was dying and the screen wouldn’t work unless I plugged it into my TV so I was just making a really distorted heavy beat with these databending sounds I had come across. I liked how it sounded like my speakers were breaking too lol, I figured some people would either really love that or hate that.
Phem, you explain that the track is about staying true to yourself – do you mind expanding on what this means?
P: In the past, I've had a tendency of being very sensitive to critique and nervous about being too vulnerable with the music I make... but as of lateI'vee turned all the negative commentary and ill-willed advice from people into something positive. Judge Me is encouraging those personalities to bring it. Go ahead and rip me apart, tell me everything that I’m doing wrong, all the ways I should change my aesthetic… you’re making me a better artist because of it… so thank you.
Robokid, you’ve been a bubbling force in the electronic music world for a while now but over the past few months, your evolution as a musician and creative has been particularly evident. Can you detail how the Robokid project is changing and what you have planned?
R: I started making music as Robokid in like 2011 – 2012 but was making music prior throughout high school with not really any direction. My main goal when I was starting out as Robokid was just to make the shit that I thought sounded cool and didn’t fit any sort of genre labels. I just wanted to be a producer and wasn’t really thinking about DJing. In 2014, Moving Castle started getting a lot of attention online and I really got sucked into the EDM world. Since leaving my booking agents in 2016, I’ve just been focusing on production & writing instead of shows.
It's been fulfilling to be able to collaborate with a bunch of really great artists and work on my music making skills and I’ve learned a lot of new things just by working with other people. My main focus now is my debut EP which should be out early 2018, it's going to be all songs with just me singing and a few friends helping me with the production and engineering. I’m really excited to open up and be able to speak my mind through music, I think people will finally get to know the real me then.
Has there been anything which has pushed you to evolve the Robokid project or is it more of a natural progression?
R: It’s definitely been a natural progression, I just think it was a very slow one. Touring and moving around a lot affected my music as a whole and I don’t think I was ready [in 2015] to be a touring musician because sonically, I hadn’t really developed enough. I’ve always known that I wanted to write music like what is on my EP, it just took me a while to realize that I could do it by myself. And now, I am super lucky to have people around me (who I have always looked up to as producers), that want to help develop my sound even more and that’s the best feeling.
Phem, you’ve worked with names like G-Eazy and gnash previously but I feel like you’re still an over-looked name, especially in Australia. Can you give us an introduction into who you are and what you’re about as an artist?
I kinda hibernated for a year or so.... I was sleeping in my studio and doing a lot of work on myself and developed the music i was making a bit more. I went through a bit of a dark time, but I'm on the other side of that now and feel really great about where I'm at, even though it feels like the beginning of something new, and that’s always kinda scary. The response has been really positive though. I'm grateful to be working with such talented and genuine people. At this point, I want to unapologetically be myself and write with as many other artists as possible. I want to learn as much as I can.
What else do you have planned for the future?
P: I have a few more collaborative singles coming out, as well as some of my own singles and an EP to follow in 2018.
R: I have another single coming out soon and an EP in 2018. The music will be more of my songwriting and singing so that’s really exciting for me. Phem &Ii might have a couple more songs down the line too.