Singer Phil Watkis promoting new project in Jamaica
Singer Phil Watkis’ latest release, Never Search, is a one-drop reggae ode to one’s destined love, treated with visuals of newly-weds getting lost in the sands of their happily ever after. Produced by his Radical Roots Records imprint and Serbia-based producer Vladimir Krkljush, Watkis shared the song’s backstory, which began 19 years ago.
“ Never Search is not really a personal experience; it’s just a rhythm I heard back in 2003-2004,” he told The Gleaner. “A producer friend of mine had the beat, and sometimes you listen to a beat and it gives you a particular vibe, so that’s the energy I got from it. I was going through (some songs) and listened to it and realised this is an amazing song that I [had] had so long. So, I revamped it, made over a beat, and got it to this energy.”
The record’s zenith is Watkis’ powerful guitar solo, which has been attracting commendation from fans.
“That is refreshing, because what people have been hearing these days in music is just chorus-verse-chorus-verse-bridge and out. So to bring back that kind of solo feel, where the music has its moment, is a vibe most people are feeling,” he said. “Overall, the feedback to the song has been amazing, and it’s getting a lot of shares on the stories on Instagram. The support has been really good.”
Based in Florida, the musician is currently in Jamaica to promote the track, as well as a collaborative rhythm project called ‘Innocence’ with Small Axe Music Productions, slated for release on April 5.
“In 2016, when I just established my studio, I just had an interface, two speakers and a little laptop. I got frustrated with going to the studio booking all that money for studio time … I was just on YouTube looking at how to use Pro Tools, how to mix reggae … and I came across this brethren, Small Axe Music Productions, and I checked his Facebook page and sent him a message. He immediately looked up my music, and we made the connection there.”
They’ve been working together ever since and released Watkis’ Kick it With You, the first single from ‘Innocence’, in October. The track is outside the singer’s usual roots and reggae signature and oozes a “dancehall flair with the crossover-type beat”. With other acts like Anthony B (in collaboration with Real McKoy), Flexx, JA and Yungg Muta on the roster, Watkis has high expectations.
“When you listen to the beat, it’s so calming and just reflects an innocent vibration. I don’t know if it’s the tonality, tempo, the way in which the overdubs are played, but it just brings out that kind of feeling . The majority of the songs on the beat have that type of message as well. We haven’t been doing much juggling per se in the dancehall space, and I’m looking forward to getting some bangers from this and having it on the mixtapes, hitting the dancehall with the DJs, and people just vibing and gravitating to the positive energy of the production.”
Watkis’ professional musical journey kick-started with the mentorship of esteemed producer Mikey Bennett and studies at the Excelsior Community College. His production credits include the ‘Know My Friends’ rhythm, of which the hit We Got the Love, recorded by Sasha and Turbulence, is on. The rhythm also boasts Buppy Brown and Oba Simba’s She’s Hot, which was featured in the 2015 Whitney Houston biopic. His personal catalogue includes songs like Hustler’s Anthem, Mama Struggles, and the recently released tune, Lion.