We had a chat with Paris-based ethereal artist phytocene about her artistry, current releases and more
Right now the music industry is obsessed with viral hits, so there’s little to no attention on thousands of independent artists creating music that truly stands out— mostly due to lack of traction and supporters. Over the past week we’ve discovered dozens of promising unsigned and emerging artists on TikTok, and we’ve decided to give them the opportunity to be seen and heard.
First up is Paris-based ethereal artist phytocene— without confining herself to one style, her music effortlessly combines pop, trip-hop and electronica to create a unique sound where ethereal piano melodies and wistful synth harmonies intertwine in an airy atmosphere, blending electronic sounds into organic ones. Her delicate voice and introspective lyrics reflect inner pain and the complexities of relationships. Together with the production, they create a crisp dreamlike universe that enchants, engages, and makes you wish you could stay forever.
She recently took time out from finishing her debut EP object permanence to chat with us.
Hey phytocene, how are you doing?
I’m doing great, thank you!
Your artist name, what’s the story behind it?
Phyto means plant in Greek, and the suffix -cene is used to name different geological periods. For instance, the period we’re living in right now is called the Holocene. Phytocene would mean the geological period of plants, the realm of vegetation. I’ve always been obsessed with plants and nature in general, it’s very intriguing to me. I can sit for hours watching the trees moving with the wind, every new species of plant I come across catches my eye and gives me a strange feeling of fascination. I think the organic and mysterious aspect of it inspires my music a lot.
Wow, that’s amazing, I just learned something new today. Who are some of the artists you grew up listening to?
During my childhood, classical music was always playing in the background in my house, and I think that influenced me a lot. Very early on, I discovered the artists I still listen to today — Thom Yorke, James Blake, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada… As a teenager, I was also a big fan of Radiohead and Lana Del Rey.
If you had a chance to collaborate with one of those artists who would it be and why?
I’m hesitating between Thom Yorke and James Blake, and I think I can’t choose. Their music has influenced me so much, from songwriting to production, and they’ve written some of my favorite songs. They master the art of writing sad and melancholic piano pieces with meaningful lyrics, blending electronic sounds into it, and it speaks to me on both an emotional and artistic level.
Nice! Has Paris influenced your music at all?
The city not so much, but the music scene there is really unique. But I’d say that for the time being, most of my musical influences are from the UK.
Where do you produce and record your music?
I produce and record at home, because that’s where I feel the most comfortable. My creative process requires me to be alone when writing songs and recording vocals, without anyone else listening. When I finish a demo, I send the Logic project to my friend Nicolas who adds soprano saxophone and additional production to the track, then we finalise the song’s arrangement together.
That sounds cool. What are some challenges you face as an independent artist?
For the time being, I love being an independent artist. It’s hard to do everything yourself and it requires being very organised and thinking about everything at once, but it gives me more creative freedom over my art, and forces me to be 100% involved in every aspect of it and to defend my music with all my heart. Right now, what I find the hardest is to gain visibility, but every time I feel down because things didn’t turn out the way I expected, I remember I’m only just starting and the best is yet to come. I also don’t like the feeling of depending on other people for things I could do myself. I learn something new everyday and it’s been a very enriching experience so far being an independent artist.
You’re very new to the scene, you released your debut single “promised dried blue” at the end of June, can you talk us through the creative process.
This song is very special to me because of the lyrics that address my abusive relationship and the trauma I’m left with. I always try to use music as a way of turning my suffering into art. The early version of this song I actually started writing while I was still in the relationship, several years ago. Lyrics wise, I kept the first two sentences, and then modified the rest because my perspective on the situation had changed a lot. Addressing the issue of r*pe in a relationship was also very important to me politically as a female artist.
I’m so proud and impressed with the bravery and courage you had in writing about your experience, I hope it inspires other women to not only connect with the music but also come forward and share their experiences to help others. The accompanying music video is amazing too, how did that all come together?
I have the chance of having a talented 3D artist as one of my best friends. Adrien had always been very supportive of my work, and one day we thought it would be fun to 3D-scan me to try and make some visuals for my music. It was nothing serious, but when we saw the results while creating my 3D avatar, we saw the potential and wanted to do something bigger. We ended up directing the music video together, which he entirely made using CGI. After scanning my face and body, we recreated my hair and my outfit, we then recorded the lip sync using a facial motion capture app, and placed my avatar in different sceneries. The doll-like aspect of my character in the music video also has a meaning regarding the subject of the song — in my abusive relationship, I was reduced to a doll made available to use, and I had lost who I was as a person. The uncanny valley sensation we get watching the music video translates that impression. I always love to collaborate artistically with my friends, it was a beautiful experience to merge our artistic visions, and I’m very grateful to him for giving me the opportunity of making my first music video in full CGI.
That’s so impressive— I’m glad you’ve brought your vision to life with one of your best friends. You’ve recently released your new single “concrete willow” which caught our attention. There’s something empowering about this song, what message are you trying to convey?
I wrote this song after my break-up, and it symbolises a new era of my life. The lyrics are about breaking the affective dependence bond, regaining independence as a woman after having gone through an abusive relationship and promising myself never to come back to the situation I was in. I also want to speak to every woman that has been through a similar situation — it’s hard to leave, but it’ll be the best decision of your life.
These two releases are part of your forthcoming debut EP, how long has this been in the works?
I’d say the last few months were the most defining and productive but some songs I’ve written years ago, several I’ve made multiple versions of… I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist, and I tend to always want to modify the songs structures or toplines before I release them.
Are you excited to release it?
Yes I’m so excited! I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I’m so happy to finally achieve my goals.
What other sounds can we expect on the EP?
I’ve tried to build a sound palette that reflects who I am as an artist today. I always try to draw inspiration from different genres, so there will be some tracks that are on the more ambient side, and some that sound a bit more pop and dynamic.
Is it easier for you to sing in English rather than French?
Yes! I think the language of a song influences the tone of a voice a lot. English has rounder, softer sonorities to me, and I find it easier to sing in this language.
Do you have any upcoming live shows?
I’m planning to do some shows this autumn, but I don’t have anything confirmed yet. I’m currently preparing my new set, and I can’t wait to play live again!!