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Philbo

Best known for his recording work with Steve Garden as Low Profile and particularly for the highly acclaimed Elephunk in My Soup and its accompanying clip, Phil continues explore what he calls hybrid music, a potent brew which is highly percussive, combines electronica with other instruments, and draws on elements from diverse genres including funk and jazz. As well as working in the music industry and related fields, Phil has also worked in desk top publishing, in the education sector, in the hospitality industry and in the environmental field.

Born in the United Kingdom, Phil grew up in New Plymouth. After learning tenor horn and playing in brass and concert bands and in chamber music groups, Phil took up bass guitar, playing in bands around the Taranaki region, in local Repertory music/drama productions and in his first pub residency aged 17. On leaving school Phil moved to Wellington, and after completing a BA at Victoria University spent the next two years studying Jazz Improvisation with Colin Hemmingsen at the Creative Music School. During this period Phil also worked as a session musician on film soundtracks, composed music for an animated film by Euan Frizzell, Goodnight Old Man, and formed the jazz rock fusion band Outlines.

In 1980 Outlines recorded at Studio II, Radio New Zealand, Wellington for the Concert Programme. Phil attended the National Jazz Clinic, recorded songs for the Pacific Song Contest with others under the name Mixed Company and formed the Protons with guitarist Tony Richards and drummer Lawrence Sampson. After some gigs and recording as a trio, May Lloyd joined the band as vocalist, and in 1981 the band released a single Lights On/Modern Homes, making a video clip at TVNZ's Avalon Studios and more recordings before disbanding.

In 1982 Phil released the instrumental album Hiatus and a single under his own name consisting of a 1980 Protons recording of his anti nuclear song Wolves of Power and a track from Hiatus, Mutants (as a result of nuclear fallout) on the B side. Towards the end of 1982, while still living in Wellington and performing regularly with The Buccaneers jazz band and with the more experimental and groove-orientated Atmospherics, Phil began recording in Auckland with Steve Garden, Mike Farrell, Matthew Brown and others. This material would be released by Phil Bowering/Low Profile as the Quiet Streets album (1983), distributed by Jayrem Records.

After working as sound mixer/recordist on the first Off the Deep End festival of experimental music and following the completion of the Glass Cage music video in 1983, Phil moved to Auckland where he continued to record as Low Profile with Steve Garden and others, creating Flamewave Productions (1984), releasing the highly acclaimed Elephunk In My Soup EP in 1984, a 12" single The Cutting Edge in 1986, the EP Simon Says in 1987 and the album Elephunkin in 1987, and developing the Flamewave International record label with the support of Jayrem Records. Phil also co-produced the three Low Profile music videos made with independent film makers: Glass Cage (1983), Elephunk (1984) and Simon Says (1987). After a stint in Britain and Australia during 1985 in connection with this work, Phil returned to New Zealand and by early 1986 was again living in Wellington.

Overall, the 1980s were a very busy time for Phil. He composed and recorded the music for Te Whakawhiti I Te Rori (Crossing the Road), an educational resource commissioned by the Department of Education. He performed and/or recorded with a number of other ensembles including Cultural Affairs, The Storm Sisters All Time Good Time Band, The Street Band, The Groove, Jazz City and Moving Lines. Moving Lines recorded original compositions at Studio II, Radio New Zealand, Wellington, for the Concert Programme series Crosscurrents and this material was subsequently released as Moving Lines 1 in 1987 by Ode Records. Other work undertaken during this period included running a studio/gallery, recording bands, doing live sound mixing, working as a session musician, doing workshops in schools as a member of a multi-disciplinary community arts team, researching the Rites of Passage of migrant groups and working in an advisory capacity for the Ministry of Education.

In 1988 Phil returned to Victoria University to complete an MA in Communications. His thesis was a study of the relationship between synergy in the group dynamics of contemporary music making and the use of MIDI/personal computer based music systems in an OSI/ISDN environment. In 1990 Phil moved to London where he worked mainly in the fields of desk top publishing and graphic design. While in the United Kingdom he completed a Permaculture Design course and worked with a permaculture group, as well as recording with other Antipodeans in London, including Gregg McKenzie, Paul Gilbert, Pip Harker and Jed Town. He peformed around London with the Shining before joining Crazy 4 Animals, performing with them at Glastonbury Festival in 1992. In 1993 he performed at the inauguration of Delta, an ecologically-based creative project which focussed on the mouth of the River Wandle.

Since returning to New Zealand Phil has lived in Auckland and Taranaki, performed in the dance productions Marraminde and Sumptuousity, performed with Drum Magic, Ditto, the Skinnydippers, the Ritz Big Band, Uncle John's Band, the Anita Anker Trio, the Flys and the Delta Jazz Trio, tutored on a TOPS programme and at MAINZ, run workshops with at-risk youth, been a private music teacher and taught in a number of schools. He currently lives in New Plymouth.

Philbo Philbo

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