The Raft is the expression vehicle for Neston-based musician Phil Wilson. A few weeks ago we had a live interesting conversation with him, and there it is… Dreamy music, feelgood atmosphere and jellyfish(!) artwork. Yep, you read well… Click, read & listen!

Hi Phil & welcome to Last Day Deaf! Can you please introduce our readers to your project, The Raft? How did it all start?

It started way back in 2003 when the band I was in broke up. We had a couple of different names over the years, the last of which was The Raft. I kept the name when I went it alone because I didn’t want to use my own name.

Listening to your most recent release on your Bandcamp page. In what way do you think ‘A Lullaby E.P.‘ differ form your previous recordings?

Firstly, the production. I’m currently working with Portsmouth based producer JPedro and he has brought a really clean shiny sound to my stuff. I’m way more dream poppy now than I ever have been and that’s alright with me!

Secondly, my guitar playing is a bit more refined these days. I’m still not all that good but my style seems to really suit these latest songs.

Aren’t you afraid of all this dream pop “explosion” then the last few years? More and more acts/bands seem to serve the genre…

No not really. I don’t really like to label music as any particular genre nor do I sit down and try and make dream pop music. The songs come out the way they do and other people decide where they belong. My recent stuff in particular seems to be getting labelled dream pop but that’s out of my hands.

Why did you decide to go solo then? After 2016?

By the time my band split up I no longer had any desire to be ‘famous’. All I wanted to do was make as much good music as I could and get it out there. I’ve never really been a solo artist as such. My albums always have guest musicians and singers on. It’s basically me and whoever is hanging around at the time.

Name of the previous band?

We started life as The Rigbies, few years later we changed to Shakedown then we had a few months as The Raft before we split up.

Back to the latest release again.The opening track of the latest EP is a pure gem. What about its lyrics: ‘Then you opened up the sky Think I might be staying all night I don’t know why I’m so high‘.

It’s basically about falling head over heals in love and having no control over it. The other person opens up all this opportunity and you can’t say no. You’re high on them and it’s completely irrational.

How did the cooperation with Claire Oneil come about or your recently shared track ‘Summertime Blues’ come about?

Me and Claire are like kindred spirits. We arrived in each others lives a few years ago and we’ve been really good friends ever since. She’s an amazing singer and her voice really suits my stuff. It was inevitable we’d do something together…. She will be featuring a lot more on my new stuff and we’ve even written some songs together which will hopefully see the light of day soon.

Holding on your previous words about fame, Claire seems to seek for this, at least according to a FB comment she did for the aforementioned track. Joking?

I think she was joking about that but I think Claire would quite like to be a famous singer. She’s a really talented actress too so I’m sure she wouldn’t mind a career in that.

One of the songs that has also caught my attention is the brilliantly tilted ‘Anarchy In Our Guitars’ from your previous EP. What’s the story behind this one?

The melody and some of the lyrics for that one actually came to me while I was gardening! I thought I must have been singing someone else’s song because it sounded so familiar to me from the start. It’s a made up story of  a Hollywood style love affair. Anarchy in our guitars as a line is supposed to illustrate how rebellious the two main characters are. They don’t care what anyone thinks of them and they are gonna do things their way. I guess it’s a bit of a nod to guitar pioneers like Kevin Shields who do things their way too.

Cool! And what about the jellyfish artwork? Cannot really find a connection to your music…

My friend Chris Thomas does all my artwork for me. For ‘Coming Up For Air E.P.‘ I asked him to find something floaty and mellow to suit the feel of the E.P. and that’s what he came up with. I liked it so much I decided to do different colour variations of it for the next few releases. It seems to have really struck a chord with people and now seems as much a part of all this as the music!

How is living and creating in Neston? Any local bands/artist we should pay attention to?

People from Neston always joke with each other about how rubbish the place is but we all love it really. It’s quite small and there’s a real sense of community about the place which you do appreciate as you get older. It’s such a beautiful place too. We overlook the Welsh mountains on one side and then just a few miles the other way there’s Liverpool. There’s not much else going on musically in Neston itself but Liverpool is always thriving in that respect….. The guys been around for years so I’m sure you’re already aware of him but go and check out Michael Head. Greatest songwriter alive today.

Wanted to ask you earlier. What happened within the period 2010-2016? The Raft (at least according to your Bandcamp page) seemed to be on hibernation. Correct?

I made a couple of records with my friend Marc Joy (Lights That Change) under the name Wilson & Joy during that time then had a bit of time off.

Thank you for this one Phil. Hope you enjoyed. Feel free to end the way you like this one.. Dont wanna ask you about the classic plans, hopes etc… So it’s on you!

Cheers man it’s been a pleasure….. I’ll just say the latest single was out on September 29th, and there will be another E.P., ‘Orion‘, out November 24….. Can’t say too much but I’m also negotiating with a couple of labels for an album next year too….. Anything else you need please get in touch. And thanks again for all your support!

Christos Doukakis