Phil South is a bad dude. Like in the video game Bad Dudes, meaning he’s a good dude. And like Bad Dudes, Mr. South came up hard in the 1980s. Since then, he’s established himself as the charming British ex-pat behind the venerable Golf Channel Recordings and part of the No Ordinary Monkey posse.
His label’s roster is important. DJ Nature, Justin V, Spike, Gala Drop, and Africaine 808 are some of the usual suspects. There’s an affinity for the jazzy, the sunkissed. Dusty-rock. Afro polyrhythms. Anything up to and including the baleric sink.
There is something very handmade and personal to his aesthetic, at points even feral – from the scraggly party fliers to the analog-leaning records he releases. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a genuinely nice person and has an understated reputation as such. Somehow that’s crept into the music and dj sets as well.
I recently corresponded with Phil via email about reflections on the past year – where he’s been and where his imprint is headed – as well as movies, sync placements, and disco shenanigans.
PersonPeople: Are you in Upstate New York now? Or out of the city somewhat? How’s family life and do you have a day job outside of the label?
Phil South: Yes indeed, upstate NY. We wanted to make the move while the kids are young enough. I think if we moved them out of Brooklyn when they were teenagers they’d never forgive us.
Family life is great :) I also work with my wife, she is a photo agent as well as trying to sync a bunch of people’s music left and right, including my own.
PP: How did you and Nomad link up? I have a few choice stories about him. Have hung out with him in several countries now. He lived with me for a month in 2008, I believe, in my old art gallery in Silver Lake. He’d paint every day and we’d cook or hang out in the evenings. I also ran into him in Croatia once too, which was great. He and Hunee were there. They were hanging with Beppe Loda.
PS: I only met him for the first time a couple of days ago. I knew he was a character from the emails, but it was great to cement that. He told me one story about a party in echo park….unprintable
We were introduced by mutual friend Alex Voices over email, I was already a fan of the Vulkandance tracks and the release on WT. Lagos, New York was just too good. I was sold instantly! We have an LP coming next year and another 12 pretty soon.
PP: What’s up with the rest of Golf Channel’s upcoming release slate?
PS: PLENTY…Right now its the Gala Drop LP “II”, a 12” from Apiento, and one from Payfone. Then we have the new 12 from The Loose Control Band which is just nuts, Mangiami comp, the debut from LGK – raw filter house! Project E LP, Africaine LP, Cherry Garcia, Sheila Hylton….niceness all.
PP: When are you in LA next?
PS: Soon I hope!! Love it out there.
PP: seen any good movies or TV shows recently? Any good scores or music licensing? On that note, how does your catalog do as far as sync stuff?
PS: Under the Skin was a pretty awesome soundtrack. The whole movie was great I thought. As for foolproof 70’s nostalgia Once in a Lifetime doc about the New York Cosmos was great…simple but very effective good time soundtrack. I still think Quentin Tarantino is great at the music thing, though his selections in Django Unchained were not up to his usual standard. Loved the movie though!
We could always use more syncs! It’s the only revenue stream left…this shit is a JOKE!
PP: Do you remember the time you and Justin V were in the Vice Do’s and Don’ts, circa 2008 or something? I loved the look on your faces in that one. Like you knew that this photo was going to get into the wrong hands.
PS: HAHAHA I don’t actually remember it being taken. We look shocking. we had literally just finished setting up for a new years party, there was no one there yet. I’m quite pleased to have made it into the don’ts I have to say, but am also glad not that many people have seen it. Justin summed it up best saying that while the pic itself is hilariously awful, the vice comments were kinda lame like ‘ooh DJs are glorified iPods’ or some bullshit. Normally the don’ts comments are way funnier than that.
PP: the comments are clearly mal-informed (for example: that’s not an iPod; that’s a turntable and rotary mixer), but isn’t that vice’s assumed prerogative? there are, of course, objectively terrible local and touring djs everywhere that do insta-doodle button-pushing whatevers. Most djs aren’t objectively bad. But there are those out there. especially in NY, right? They exist here too. I think it’s cool to be mistaken for average idiots but actually be delivering something not fully idiotic. It’s like the Idjut Boys covers and other red herring lp artwork that is trying to make you think everything inside is garbage. seems like a tried and true edit/balearic tactic. And I mean that lovingly.
PS: I was mentioning this to Hans! It still makes me chuckle. Why me? Why us? I thought that was a genius move from you guys!!
PP: To answer the questions “why me? why us?” … a few things. One, we were basically the only Americans there. Juan Maclean and maybe that’s it. I think some people probably assumed you were American because you live in New York. Someone, at like 5 in the morning, approached us on our way to bed and said, “Are you Justin V?” and another dude (I think they were from Newcastle) said, “And are you Phil South?” I forgot who they thought was which but go with whatever combination you think is funnier. We said “yes,” even though we were totally rinsed already and stayed up for another 3-4 hours drinking their booze. We bullshitted about the tropes and cliche struggles of running a small label. They bought it. We’re assholes. I think it was me who felt guilty enough to reveal it to them. I think we really confused them in the end.
This was a high/low-light of that period for me.
What was your proudest (music-related) memory of 2014?
PS: The No Ordinary Monkey 10 year anniversary back in February. A room full of good friends, great music & beautiful sound…the perfect night!
PP: What about your favorite release of the past 12 months?
PP: What you want to see more of in 2015?
PP: What you want to see less of in 2015?
You heard the man. More money; less debt. Go spend all your Christmas bonuses on yourself on fine Golf Channel goods wherever good records are sold.