It’s not just Phoebe Whalley’s enchanting voice and creative guitar-playing that sets her apart: she has two Clockenflap shows under her belt and will play at the Rugby Sevens today. The Discovery College student tells Young Post about how she got started and her plans for the future ...
Hey Phoebe! Tell us, what’s been your musical journey so far?
I’ve always loved singing, but I only started seriously performing when I started learning guitar about four years ago. I have a really good teacher and I’ve progressed quite fast. I watch a lot of cover videos on YouTube. Ed Sheeran’s definitely a big inspiration too. I’ve always loved his music. I sometimes perform with a loop pedal like him, and it’s think it’s inspiring to see someone who performs by themselves – no band, just a guitar. It’s the path I’d like to follow.
Has Clockenflap been your highlight so far?
I was fortunate enough to play there in 2014 and 2015 and both experiences were really good. The first year I applied through their website and they offered me a slot after seeing me perform at the YRock music challenge. The second year, they also found me through YRock. Last year, I was sick on Saturday and I lost my voice. But it came back right before my performance. I was freaking out a bit, drinking a lot of warm tea. But luckily, it all went really well.
What’s the best way to promote yourself as an artist here?
Look for things you can apply for – like Clockenflap. Through one performance you’ll usually make more contacts for other performances. I’m lucky because YRock is based in Discovery Bay, which is where I live. Getting involved with music organisations like that, you can get a lot of opportunities.
Have there been any positive outcomes from playing Clockenflap?
It led to Clockenflap the next year! I’m really lucky to have performed twice and I really hope I get to perform again. I met a lot of other bands there. It was quite surreal – I was 15 the first time I played.
Every year, the competition gets tougher. I won’t be upset if I don’t get to play again.
Do you see yourself making a career in music?
I don’t know. It’s difficult to get into the music industry and I’m not sure whether I’ll do a music degree at uni. No matter what I decide to study, I’ll definitely keep music as a hobby and keep trying to perform and get involved in the music scene wherever I end up.
Do you think you’ll stay in HK?
I’m planning to leave for uni because I’ve lived here my entire life. It would be nice to get out and see other places! I really love HK so I can definitely see myself coming back here. I’m half-Australian, half-English so I’ll probably study in one of the two countries. I’m undecided.
If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be?
I look up to so many artists. Ed Sheeran would definitely be number one. I saw Bastille when they came here and they were amazing. I like Lana Del Rey as well – I sing some of her songs sometimes.
What’s your own songwriting process like?
I don’t really have a method. I usually start with a melody and then I always write guitar and lyrics at the same time. I can’t force myself to sit down and write a song. Sometimes you get an idea and have a rough draft within 20 minutes, other times you just sit there for ages and no inspiration comes up.
What do you do to find inspiration?
You can look at things that have happened to you or things that have made you feel strongly. I started off writing about specific things that had happened to me, but now it’s more thinking about a feeling and branching off that with metaphors to turn into a song that people can interpret in different ways.
Any plans to release music?
I’d really love to put together an original EP sometime soon. I’ll definitely do it, I’m just not sure when.
What do the next six months hold?
I’m doing the IB and it’s quite gruelling. So far, I’ve been able to keep up with performing and schoolwork, which is good. I’ll keep updating my YouTube channel and performing.
What’s your biggest dream right now?
I know getting into the music industry is ridiculously difficult, but that would amazing. If it doesn’t happen, I’d love to work in the music industry in some way – whether it’s managing artists, or more the recording or production side.
How would you improve HK’s music scene?
It would be nice if the busking scene here was bigger. It would be great if street performing was encouraged more. Since I’m an acoustic artist it’s really easy for me to set up, but I know a lot of my friends in bands have to pay for rehearsal studios, it becomes a hassle to find time to practise. Often, the cheaper places are really far away.
What was the first song you wrote?
It was called Guardian Angel. It was about my mum. I think I was 12 or 13 and it used the easiest four chords you can play on guitar. I didn’t play it for ages because it was so basic, but I entered a YRock competition and they really like original music and that was the only one I had. It gave me the confidence to start writing more.
What inspired you to start writing songs?
I saw Taylor Swift in concert when she came to Hong Kong and begged my parents for a guitar afterwards. I’d played other instruments before, like clarinet and piano, but gave up. Taylor Swift used to be a really big inspiration, and I still like her music, but now I look more to Ed Sheeran.
What’s the strangest comparison you’ve had so far?
A review of my Clockenflap first set said I sounded like Lorde, which surprised me. I take it as a compliment, but didn’t think my voice or guitar mimicked hers at all.
When are you performing next?
I’ve got couple of school fashion shows and I’m also performing at the Sevens.
What would your advice to aspiring musicians be?
Take every performance you get offered, even if it’s small or you have to travel quite a bit. Just start getting yourself out there and taking every opportunity you see. Audition for everything and keep practising. YouTube’s good as well because you get a lot of views from other places and you can expand your audience a lot with that.