Reneé Phoenix Discusses Her New Single and Forthcoming EP
You know Reneé Phoenix as the dynamic singer of Florida’s hard-rocking Fit For Rivals. Today, Phoenix is about to expand her impact, as she’s about to release her debut solo effort. I had the opportunity to sample the new EP and it is fantastic. Last night I sat down to chat with Reneé on the cusp of the premiere of her infectious first single, “Godless,” which you can hear at the end of the interview.
Debut Solo EP
Cretin: So first, let me say that the new EP sounds great.
Reneé Phoenix: Cool, thanks.
Cretin: What was the driver for a solo effort this time?
Reneé Phoenix: Well, it’s been about a year since we (Fit For Rivals) came out with our last album and I am constantly writing music. I ended up with a lot of songs by myself and I thought it would be cool to release a few songs that I really believed in and liked on a little EP that we could release before the next Fit For Rivals album. The more content the better.
Cretin: I know you have the ability to play guitar, bass and drums, are you playing on this EP?
Reneé Phoenix: Everything on the EP, I have written or played, so everything on there is 100% coming from me. For some of the solo stuff, I work with a studio guy, Dan Martell and he would help out.
I came into the studio with pretty complete demos of everything I wanted. I think I definitely over-prepared, but it’s good, because I like doing that before I go into the studio
Cretin: So, when you write the music, you are writing all of the parts yourself, except maybe the solos?
Reneé Phoenix: Yes, and even the solos, I’ll write out what I want it to sound like, with the melody. I’ll sit down in my little home studio where I do everything first. I’ll program all of the drum stuff, I write all of the bass lines, guitar harmonies and effects. I love getting in there and doing all of that stuff. It’s super fun.
Cretin: I imagine that has to be a satisfying process.
Reneé Phoenix: Yea, it’s pretty satisfying. I love doing it.
Cretin: How did you enjoy this recording process, as a solo artist versus a member of Fit For Rivals?
Reneé Phoenix: It’s definitely different. When we write for Fit For Rivals, It’s primarily Thomas (Amason) and I, and we’ll write everything. Thomas or I will have a complete song, then we’ll both add in and go from there. And on the last album we had a chance to play some shows songs before we recorded so we got a really good feel for them.
With the solo stuff it took a little more time because it was just me doing everything, but it was a fun challenge. I genuinely love writing music, playing instruments and figuring it out.
Cretin: How does Thomas feel about the new music?
Reneé Phoenix: He really likes it. He’s super supportive of it and he thought it was an awesome idea to do this. And then after this, we are going to get back to writing and put out another Fit For Rivals record.
The Music on Swallow EP
Cretin: “Swallow” is very Nirvanish.
Reneé Phoenix: Yeah, I definitely hear it in that song. Growing up I wasn’t listening to Nirvana and they didn’t have that aha moment for me that The Distillers or No Doubt did for me, but I do really enjoy Nirvana. I really loved Kurt Cobain and everything he put out, and I can hear it in there. That’s a very good compliment – thank you.
Cretin: Loved the breakdown towards the end of “Desperate.”
Reneé Phoenix: That song is a pretty strange one. It’s a weird one and it’s meant to make you feel weird, to be unsettling. Even the very end with the high part, it’s kind of weird and doesn’t completely come to a close.
Cretin: Do you have one favorite track, perhaps one song with a deeper personal meeting?
Reneé Phoenix: I would probably say “Swallow” is my favorite track. It reminds me of a lot of the bands I liked growing up. It’s got more of a punk rock vibe. Yeah. I’d say “Swallow” is my favorite, followed by “Godless.” I decided to release “Godless” as the first track because I thought it was the coolest track out of all of them. And I kind of want to do a music video for “Swallow.” I think that would be kind of cool. Maybe do that one next.
The First Single – “Godless”
Cretin: I don’t know if I’ve heard any of your vocals in the past that I like as much as “Godless.” Definitely a different vibe to my ears.
Reneé Phoenix: Every song calls for a different type of delivery or kind of emotion behind it. I started out in a punk rock band and although there was still melody in there, it was still so gritty and there wasn’t a lot of dynamic. I feel like from doing this so long, I’ve picked up different techniques on my vocal palette. It’s nice exploring different things I can do with my voice.
Cretin: Do you see yourself showing a more diverse range on the song than we have heard previously?
Reneé Phoenix: Yes. I think there’s a lot of little stuff that you hear in there. Like the little ‘oohs’ in there, and we were toying with that. I love the whole production aspect of it and having the little ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ – I loved putting that stuff in there.
Cretin: Can you share a bit about the lyrics and inspiration for “Godless”?
Reneé Phoenix: I feel like it’s my struggle, especially when I was younger, on whether to believe in God or not. I went to schools that had a religious base from Kindergarten up through high school. It’s jammed down your throat that this is how it’s supposed to be, but as you get older you tend to question all of those things you are told as a child. I feel like it reflects on that time of my life.
Cretin: So, after that contemplating, do you come to a decision at the end of the song?
Reneé Phoenix: I don’t feel like there’s a concrete decision. I feel in my personal life; my own decision is to just be a good person at the end of the day and don’t let beliefs get in the way and cause negativity.
Cretin: Tell me about shooting that video and is there any symbolism to you alternating between black and white shirts?
Reneé Phoenix: I just thought it was a cool kind of opposite effect. I guess you could interpret that as going back and forth on your beliefs and everything… good and evil.
Cretin: Who shot the video?
Reneé Phoenix: It was just me doing that myself. In Fit For Rivals, I feel like Thomas and I learned every tool of the trade.
What’s Next for Reneé Phoenix and Fit For Rivals
Cretin: Will you ever play any of these songs live?
Reneé Phoenix: I would like to, I think it would be kind of cool to at least experience that. I’ve never heard it even in a band room setting with actual people playing these songs back. For me, I feel that would be really fulfilling. I think it would carry a good vibe live and it could really move the crowd.
Cretin: Will you be touring to support the EP?
Reneé Phoenix: I think right now we are just going to wait and see what happens. Thomas and I, we want to get back to writing and get in the studio. We can’t really do anything because of all of that going on.
But this year should be really exciting for Fit For Rivals. We’re not on a label any more, so it’s nice to have that freedom and be able to make music and put it out whenever we want to.
Cretin: Having full creative control is nice.
Reneé Phoenix: Yeah, who knows if I would’ve ever been able to do something like this if we had stayed on a label.
Cretin: Do you enjoy touring more or the process of creating the music?
Reneé Phoenix: I definitely enjoy the creative process more than touring to be honest. I do love being on tour and getting to meet our fans and seeing their reaction to our music and their emotional reaction to it. Getting to see that in real time is pretty cool. But, I love creating. I think that’s my favorite part.
So with no further ado, here’s some of that creative genius, as Renee Phoenix premieres her killer new song “Godless” right here:
Want an instant download of “Godless?” When you pre-order the new EP for the ridiculously affordable $3.99, you’ll receive an instant download of the fantastic “Godless.” Click here for more information.
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