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EXCLUSIVE: Plested Interview

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Phil Plested may not be a household name just yet, but you will recognize a number of his previous creations. Plested went from esteemed songwriter to an artist overnight, he spoke about “The Least That I Can Do,” his musical journey, and more.

How did “The Least That I Could Do” music video concept come about?
We wanted the video to be as simple as possible, a beautiful visual and storyline that would let the song do the talking. I loved the director’s previous work so asked him to put an idea together and he just seemed to understand what the song is trying to say completely! I’m so happy with it.

What went into filming and creating the visual?
I spent the last day of my recent LA trip in the desert just outside of the city. It was crazy hot and I literally have the most pale skin, so I held onto lots of factor 50 sun cream and an umbrella (laughs). We waited for sunset on the last shot and I just remember being overwhelmed by the scenery (apart from the rattlesnakes and giant ant nests)!

The single you wrote years ago, what made you choose that song to release as a single, now?
I always knew that this song is a one and basically I just didn’t want to throw it out into the world without some context of who I am as artist. So first we dropped a project of songs and I did a bunch of touring and now it feels like my fans are ready to hear where I see my sound going as an artist!

What was your mom’s reaction to hearing the song for the first time?
She loves the song!!! In fact, the first time she heard it was when I played it at a live show a long time ago! I messed the whole song up and she just said “you need to practice that one” (laughs).

I love that you share demos with your fans on YouTube, is there a specific feeling you have when you know a song needs to be more than a demo instead of an official release?
I basically upload the demos because it seems such a shame to just leave certain songs on a hard drive in the studio. I’ve found that a lot of my fans’ favorite songs are actually some of the demos and the best feedback I’ll ever receive is from them! It’s important to show people the whole creative process and that some songs only make it as far as a demo.

Was there a specific moment when you realized you wanted to move from songwriting to becoming an artist?
It was actually when I wrote The Least That I Could Do, the thought of giving the song away didn’t feel right, so I held on to it!!! A few people heard it and asked why I wasn’t performing the songs I write, so I just took the leap!

What inspired you to start writing and creating music?
My grandad always played guitar when I went to my grandparents’ house, so he planted the seed and then through school, me and my friends would always end up in the music block instead of playing football or hanging outside. We pushed each other to write and I still write with them all 10 years later!

Since you’re a songwriter, what’s the oddest place you’ve come up with an idea for a song or actually written a track at?
I co-wrote Touch for Little Mix and I actually came up with the concept in my best friend’s car! He had a broken wing mirror and every time I got in the passenger seat, I had to poke the wing mirror into place, I’d always say ‘just a touch’ as I did it!!! And then ended up in the studio with a guitar and started singing it and the song was born.

When you write a song, how do you know if a song is for you or for another artist? Do you ever have other artists in mind?
The songs I keep always come from the heart! I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I’ll always spend days making my lyrics as solid as possible. Songs for others I can be a bit more free with and I play on melody a lot more!

We heard you play a cover of Little Mix’s “Touch” that took our breath away, if you could have any artist dead or alive put a spin on one of your songs, who would it be?
Ed Sheeran actually played a cover of Touch once, which took my breathe away for about a week!!! I’d love to hear Bob Marley put a spin on The Least That I Could Do and turn it into a reggae BANGER.

How do you go about taking a song and then creating an acoustic rendition, recorded version, and live version?
Acoustic versions I like to make super raw and rough around the edges! The listener should be able to hear the real emotion behind the song!!! And then live versions from now on I want to get the crowd involved! Make sure they’re singing along!

What goes into creating a setlist for you?
I like to make it big at the start and the end, but in the middle, I always play a few acoustic, emotional songs! I guess I like to show the difference in character my songs can have! I think I’ve actually got too many songs now though, I had to cut some out on tour!! (Laughs)

Jacklyn is the Editor In Chief of Stage Right Secrets. Jacklyn's photography and articles can also be found on The Recording Academy's GRAMMY.com GRAMMYPro, GRAMMYU, PopCrush, Taste of Country, among other outlets. Besides press Jacklyn is a "Jack of All Trades" working various jobs at local concerts and touring.