Electric Lights - Women in Electronic Music,

Phew: “Making music is a statement of one’s way of life”

Phew (Photo: Katja Ruge)

Which music was the first to touch/inspire/move you? What made it so special and standing to you?

Phew: I went to a catholic elementary school, and every Friday we had mass, and the prayers of the sisters there, which were in Latin, were beautiful. Then, around the same time I heard and loved the theme song for a special effects TV show. It was performed by a children’s choir, and there was a very strange sound in the interlude. The sound left a stronger impression on me than the melody. I later learned that the song was composed by Isao Tomita and that the strange sound was made by slide guitar.

Have there been people whose contribution to the development of your musical identity was of special importance? 

Rather than people, I would not have started music without the NY punk scene from around 1975 and the London punk scene that followed. The New York Dolls concert I saw in Japan in 1975 was my first punk experience.

Are you able to share the process of evolving your identity with us?

I approach my shows with that attitude. Whether I am doing that well or not.

What do you hope to find in music?

Rather than finding it, I think making music is a statement of one’s way of life. As for the content of the music, this may sound a bit sketchy, but I think it is a matter of taste.

Phew (Photo: Katja Ruge)

What do you prefer, the seclusive working process in a studio or the live presentation of your music in front of the audience?
And why so?

I think studio work is for me. Because I still don’t know what it means to entertain an audience.

What is your ideal space/place to listen to music?

Anywhere. Depends on my mood at the time. Sometimes I need a good sound system when I want to concentrate, and other times I enjoy music that leaks from somewhere in the hustle and bustle.

Please name female artists without whose music you wouldn’t be producing music?
Why those?

I can’t think of any particular one.
But Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads was significant. Her bass was the core of Talking Heads’ music, and her image as an artist was very new to me at the time.
Then there is Ikue Mori, the drummer of DNA. Her playing set me free from the stereotype that drums are for rhythm.

What do you think sets your “voice” or creative expression apart from other’s?

I don’t know about this because I don’t think about it in comparison to others.

What empowers you or helps you to overcome obstacles and challenges in your work?

Family, friends, cats, dogs and other animals, flowers and fresh air

Phew (Photo: Katja Ruge)

Your most beautiful experience focused on your music?

The very first live performance of Aunt Sally. Although the audience was only my friends, it was a magical night that seemed to last forever.

What’s a secret guilty pleasure, an idiosyncrasy of yours or something that would surprise people about you?

This is not a particular secret or something I feel guilty about, but I like to lie on the couch (not bed) doing nothing, really nothing. Whenever I have time, I do so. Sometimes I find that several hours have passed.

What would be a fantasy venue or event to dj or play live at?

I’m glad to play in a place with a good PA system.

Do you see a connection between your femininity and your work? And if so what is it?

In my case, not so much. Gender is only a part of what makes me who I am, not a defining characteristic of me.

What is your favorite app/technology/instrument to create sounds with?

I use Live and Logic for DAW, and recently Serge for synths.

Phew (Photo: Katja Ruge)


This interview with Phew is part of the ongoing photo-project “Electric Lights – Women in Electronic Music” by Hamburg based photographer Katja Ruge and Kaput co-publisher Thomas Venker focused on the role of women in electronic music. Each photoshoot is accompanied by a short interview, based on a personalised questionnaire. The interviews will be published on the kaput website on a monthly basis, before finding their way into a book.


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