Before you read this interview, a huge thank you is in order to the PR people at the label who made this possible. Another huge thank you to the lady herself Elizabeth Berg aka Z-Berg. If that name may sound vaguely familiar let me tell you a little something about our interviewee this week. She burst out on the landscape of music in 2001 with a band called The Like. They were on a few soundtracks and recorded two records. In 2015, it seems she has found a group of guys with a background that is so different from each other to create a band and sound that truly this group should never have been able to pull off so amazingly. The debut record by Phases is out now, and will more than likely be in my best of 2015 list. If you see Lights on tour in the upcoming days, they are with them so go out there and support them. Bands like Phases and even Lights need your support, so read the interview, if you like what you read seek out the music and spend some money to help keep bands like these going. Enough of me, it is time for the woman of the hour…..
INFRARED: Let me start off by saying this is truly an honor thank you for taking the time out for this. What was the first record or song that inspired you to pursuit music?
Z-BERG: Aww thanks!! I don’t think I could single out just one… My dad raised me on a steady diet of Beatles, Stones, and Dylan from the get go. I started playing piano when I was five and guitar when I was thirteen. The second I picked up the guitar I started writing songs… And the rest really is history.
INFRARED: If music did not happen for you, what was your backup plan?
Z-BERG: There really never has been. I can envision an alternate reality where I went to school for theater and Russian lit and probably ended up a forensic pathologist. But alas, that’s just a dream. The second I started playing music, I knew there was no other option for me.
INFRARED: Before we go into your past, let’s talk about Phases. Do you feel fans of your previous band The Like will get this band? Also, did you feel any pressure stepping out into this new direction?
Z-BERG: Thus far, the Like fans who have seen us play seem pretty psyched! Certainly it is a very different kind of music, but I think my lyrical perspective and my songwriting style are still ever present.
INFRARED: You know when you release a new record, you get the dreaded critics and bloggers. Do you read all the press your music has got? If so, does the bad stuff affect you?
Z-BERG: I don’t pay much attention. I’ve had so much shit talked about me in my life that I’m almost impervious to the negative things. But so far the response has been really lovely. Here’s hoping that continues!
INFRARED: When you are playing live, do you get nervous? Have you ever had a moment where you forgot a lyric or messed up a line and found yourself lost for what to do? When this happens, what do you do?
Z-BERG: I don’t really get nervous. The rest of the day is hard; getting onstage is easy. Sometimes I’ll get so wrapped up in what I’m singing that I forget where I am, but even if you stumble a bit, those are totally the best moments. When you really lose yourself…
INFRARED: Playing live, you are onstage giving a part of your being to these fans. Does it annoy you that you look up and see smartphones taping the performance or that you see flashes every second? Do you feel it takes away from the experience that the fan is expecting who is not cheapening it by trying to load you on youtube? Also does it take away from your part of having to play?
Z-BERG: The instinct to film a concert or even to take pictures is totally beyond me. But I’m aware that I’m in the minority. I’ve never owned a camera. I’m perhaps TOO much in the moment. But, however people want to experience my music is how they ought to. And I do my best to really make eye contact and engage people and make a personal connection that supersedes the instinct to record it. Also I’ve started getting people to use their phones as flashlights during “Spark” so I’m loving those cell phones right now! They make a glorious constellation.
INFRARED: Your a beautiful woman. Does it offend you when people focus more on that aspect of you and put your band in the backdrop or when people refer to you as a “ women in music”?
Z-BERG:Why thank you! You know, I don’t know if people focus on that more or not. I’ll basically take any compliment I can get!
INFRARED: Let’s talk about your past, The Like. I discovered your band on the soundtrack to Thirteen. Being so young, when you were working on music and a debut record was there any pressure on you? What was the recording process like for your first time? Do you think fans and critics were fair to The Like? Let’s be honest, the debut album was a great record that should have sold huge. June Gloom and What I say What I mean by all means should have been in modern college radio playlists on heavy rotation. It just seems that people perceived this as a band that got doors opened for them due to family more than anything else?
Z-BERG: Awww well thank you! The like was a very difficult band to be in sometimes. We started so young and we worked so hard and to read every single article talk about us like we were rich little daddy’s girls who had everything handed to us was…very hurtful. And remarkably inaccurate. I’ve been working and supporting myself as a musician since I was fifteen. And man, I loved that band. We made three ep’s before we made our first record, so we were pretty comfortable in the studio at that point. But every record is a new adventure. You never know how it will go or how the chemistry of who you’re working with will change your music and your life. It’s just the best. And what an interesting experience to have had so very young. I hope we do more together one day.
INFRARED: So, is Phases now a full fledged group or is the door open for another The Like CD?
The door is always open. But I am in FULL ON PHASES MODE. World domination ahead.
INFRARED: If you had to sum up your music adventure so far in one sentence, what would it be?
Is this real life???
INFRARED: With your label’s history of deluxe sets and anniversary records. This year marks the ten year anniversary of your first record with The Like, is there anything planned for it? Looking back though today, are you happy with the finished product?
Z-BERG: Whoa ten years that’s wild!!!! I couldn’t listen to it for years after we made it. The relationships one has with ones own records are verrrry complicated. But I recently put it on for the first time on years and was like WHOA I love this!!!
(Ed-I have to say this, of all the questions I asked her…this was the one I felt either the label or she would get offended by the most. The label comes under so much fire for these anniversary sets and I thought this woman will look at this question and be offended. Plus Z wins my respect with the most original sales plug ever.)
INFRARED: Z, what is currently in your Ipod?
Z-BERG: I LOVE the new tame impala record. Cannot stop listening to it. Also the new Dave Rawlings Machine record is a goddamn masterpiece.
INFRARED: I love you, you are awesome…The Like was incredible and Phases debut is flat out amazing.
Z-BERG: Damn, you’re just the nicest! Hmmm….
What did we learn off this interview, first off the woman took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us. That is major points right there. Secondly, we have to do a part two….Thirdly, if you see her live do not snap an insane amount of pictures or videotape it. Maybe if you see her afterwards and she is down take a picture with the band. Bands like Phases are not a Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, they need the fans support to grow and become bigger. If you read this interview and feel this woman is speaking your language or you loved The Like, support this CD, go to their show and buy a t-shirt. Thank you again to the label, the PR and the artist….