By Rosine Alleva , Journalist/Photographer–Rock At Night France
Venue: Woodstock Guitares Ensisheim April 8th
Back in Europe after 5 years, it was a real privilege to meet Philip Sayce and see him live! He performed the day before at the Basel Blues festival (Switzerland). I had made up late morning with Jeremy, who organized the French event, at Woodstock Guitares. We drove to Basel, to be at the hotel at noon and meet Philip Sayce and the other musicians, the bass player Sam Bolle and the drummer Fritz Lewak. We had a nice chat in the van, asked about the concert in Basel and left them at their French hotel before the sound check planned for 4 pm.
From the very first notes, I was just there, staring at him and his fingers flying on his legendary Stratocaster. After this magic moment, I was even more impatient to see the show! But we all had dinner first and just an hour before the concert, Philip Sayce still took time with pleasure for the interview. He is such a charismatic, real, sincere, wonderful person and musician. It would be a magnificent evening …..and it was!!!
People came from Paris, Germany and even Italy!!
It is the talented Jérémy Cardot with his acoustic guitar who opened the concert with a 30 minutes performance. Very confident and delighted to sing in front of this big crowd, he was also really excited to announce the arrival of Philip Sayce on stage. Jeremy already supported Tony Joe White in Paris at the New Morning last November. A young artist to follow!
RAN– With all the people you played with, and you supported, which has been your best musical experience?
Philip Sayce- Ooh, that’s really hard to say. I’m very grateful to every experience because certainly working with Jeff Healey, he was a real genius, it was breathtaking to listen and watch what he did…I was the biggest fan in the room. I just stood there next to him, I can’t even put the words how much that meant to me and it still means to me. And Melissa too, in a different way, when she sings it’s like Gods come through her too, she has something very magnetic, very raw, very beautiful. And again, standing next to her and watching her perform, I was electrified too, she’s so powerful!
RAN– I saw Melissa Etheridge on television at the Grammys in 2005 with Joss Stone. What a performance!
PHSA- Oh yeah! And at that very particular time in her life, she thought about the people that night. We were so thankful to have the opportunity to go and play with her. When she sang that note in Joss Stone song, it was just like everyone’s head blew off!! That scream, this tribute to Janis Joplin, it was crazy….She’s so great!
RAN- How do you react when people don’t understand why you’re not better known, or why they didn’t hear about you more?
PHSA- You know, I’m just thankful, if the music resonates to people, if they feel good after they hear it, they share that energy with me, I feel very thankful. Hopefully there is an energy exchange through the music there, if the people share something back…. that is really what it’s about, it’s this exchange. It’s nothing about wanting something or have sort of ego about it. Everyone has an ego, of course, I’m thankful for the opportunities. Some days are easier than others. But I’m doing what I love, I wanna focus on that. You can always look at what you don’t have, but maybe it’s important to look at what you have, that’s what I’m trying to do, to be thankful to what I have. It’s really important to stay positive and be grateful.
RAN– As a musician, do you consider your life complete since you play your own stuff?
PHSA– Haha, it’s a good question! Again, one day at a time, one step at a time….what I really like to do is just find a way obviously to keep practicing as a guitarist, singer and songwriting and as a human being. And if I can learn to be a better and deeper person, keep growing from the inside out, hopefully that will reflect in the music as well. I’ve got a long way to go, just a baby, try to keep growing, that’s really what it’s about.
RAN– You’re incredibly humble….
PHSA– What I mean, just look at Jimi Hendrix on the wall there! We’re all children of Jimi Hendrix, we’ve got nothing to say, you know!
RAN- Talking about Jimi Hendrix, what about “Mother” your guitar? Why did you choose a fender Stratocaster, is it because of Jimi Hendrix? Since when do you play with this one?
PHSA- I had this guitar for a very long time, I started up when I was working with Jeff Healey, she’s a 1963 Stratocaster. It’s a guitar I’m very thankful to have. And yeah, I certainly chose it because of Jimi, been a very famous stratocaster guitar player, but Eric Clapton as well, Mark Knopfler, Ry Cooder sometimes played the stratocaster, Steve Ray Vaughan, Jeff Healey, Robert Cray, all my favorite guitar players.
RAN- And all your influences as well?
PHSA– My main influences, yeah! A lot of them played certainly fender guitars, and a lot the stratocasters. Certainly Stevie Ray Vaughan…His music resonates with me I think, at a very deep level, as Jimi as well and Eric Clapton. But Stevie’s, it’s absolutely like the voice of God coming through him, when you see this prodigy, you just have to stop and stare. You see that in Jeff Healey and you see that in Eric Clapton. One note and waow …
RAN– How did you feel when you signed with Warner Music Canada in 2015? That was one of your big wishes.
PHSA– Yeah, sure! I was very thankful. The vice president of Warner Music, his name is Steve Waxman, he heard some of my music on Spotify, he got in touch with me. We then build up a relationship, friendship, the opportunity came up to release my music with honor. I ‘m deeply grateful, we take it one step at the time. They’ve been very supportive, very patient, very understanding, I think, of the things that are important to me .
RAN- Are you going to record a new studio album soon?
PHSA- We’re getting started right now on a new record, and again I’m very very thankful for the opportunities that Warner Music has brought up to the table.
RAN– This gave you the opportunity to play more in Canada, and in Toronto particularly ?
PHSA– Yeah, absolutely, I grew up there! We’re gonna play a lot more in Canada and more opportunities to play in US. We’re getting in the process now Warner music is gonna be my global partner, so we’re going to be working together for the world. We’ve been to Japan, and I’m hopeful that there will be an opportunity to come back to Europe more often.
RAN- You toured quite a lot with other artists in Europe, what do you think about the actual music business here particularly?
PHSA– I remember when we were coming to Europe for the first time, when I first started with Jeff Healey, I was very young and he just said “you’re gonna enjoy this”. The European audiences are amazing, it’s very powerful, everybody comes together and claps in time. And he was right, it’s a very powerful experience! Perhaps there is a longer history in Europe, respect around music, certainly going back hundreds of years, classical music, composers. People listen a little different maybe here. There is more room to breath for a minute….Again I don’t want to generalize. Maybe people take a moment, they really share, they’re not afraid to get wild with the music, they’re uninhibited, have less fear, they don’t care about what anybody else thinks. If they wanna dance or shout, they will! It’s huge, it’s big energy. That’s something certainly why I always enjoy coming here….Passion.
RAN– This is you! Passion and a big heart! How did you feel playing at the Silver dollar and record that live album Scorched Earth
PHSA– It was really wild! Cause that was a club where I started playing at. It was pretty cool, it was just one night, in the middle of a tour, and they just brought out the recording and the filming stuff…a great experience, yeah.
RAN– This was Volume one, are you intending to record more live albums?
PHSA– Yeah, yeah, Scorched Earth is kind of the first of a series for more live releases.
RAN– What is your biggest wish in life?
PHSA– Oh my god! Maybe to spread some love in the world, maybe some peace, especially nowadays..
RAN- Thank you so much for this moment! You do spread love through your music! Everyone here tonight just wants to hug you!
Seeing Philip Sayce on stage is to live the love and passion of music through each note! And a shout out to the great Fritz Lewak and Sam Bolle who took part in the magic! At the end of the concert, Philip Sayce exchanged a few words, took the pose for pictures with every single person until the last one…it was hard to leave. We’re looking forward to seeing you again in Europe soon!!
The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without written permission to Rock At Night and the photographer. Use of any image is a violation of the United States and international Copyright laws.