Singer/songwriter Philip Bowen opens up about his new single “Stella,” authenticity, finding his audience, and the musical talents that have shaped him as an artist.
Stream: “Stella” – Philip Bowen
I try as best as I can to not minimize what anybody’s going through and try to look at the reality of what it is. This song is centered around being content in your circumstance, even if it’s not so great at the moment. That doesn’t mean that you don’t hope for change or work for it, but you try to take some comfort in what’s real around you.
You know that expression, “do not kick someone when they are down”? Often, it can feel like the world is against you and doing just that. In those times it is never easy to look on the bright side. Philip Bowen’s new release “Stella,” independently released January 21st, reminds us to try our best to hold our head up high, even when things are falling apart. Dedicated to his daughter, the tune grips listeners with its warm, tender nature. Bowen’s gentle, heartfelt tone skating atop light piano notes really drives the message home. The narrative of seeking optimism in the darkest of times is an idea that instantly resonates, especially with everything that has transpired these last couple of years.
I’ve been thinking
How it’s gonna be
A brand new day
Bowen’s passionate lyrics remind us that every day is a chance to start over. He helps us recognize the reality of difficult chapters yet also finds the light within the struggle. There is something profound in that balance of being present and aware while also envisioning what can be. The track is a stunning blend of hope and hesitation. We are unsure of what the future holds, but he believes if we could just find solace in the little moments of joy it will be all right. His infectious quality allows us to have that same inspiring notion.
I’ve been thinking
If we can laugh a little
It will warm us
Til a blue sky comes
The West Virginia singer/songwriter is known for his soft, honeyed sound dripping with charismatic sweetness. You can feel that kind energy not only in Bowen’s vocals but also within the love he expresses for his family. This genuine quality that radiates off him has gained him a large and loyal fan base. The singer has performed on and offline for over 15 million people. He has also exploded on social media, winning TikTok’s Greatest Talent Competition. Atwood Magazine got the chance to speak with Bowen discussing “Stella”, the development of his sound and a lot more!
A CONVERSATION WITH PHILIP BOWEN
Atwood Magazine: Your stunning singer-songwriter folk quality exudes so much depth and texture. How was your unique style conceived?
Philip Bowen: For me, it was just a combination of my experience and what I grew up around. I grew up in Appalachia and West Virginia. I’ve experienced all different styles of music and I had music in my house all the time. I tried to really put forward that kind of authentic voice with my songwriting. I tried to stop emulating everything else I was hearing and just do myself and just try to be myself. That’s what you hear, the voice from the style of how I sing and write my stuff.
How do you feel growing up in West Virginia influenced your sound?
Philip Bowen: There are a lot of really deep roots, especially musical and cultural roots in that area. Music is a big part of everyday life. So at everything from a small town festival to any kind of gathering, there’s typically always music, and people will bring their instruments. It’s a very natural vibe. Stories are also very significant. Deep storytelling is important there. Being around all that, gave me a thread to tie myself back home. It really helped me with my improvisation and writing.
Your latest release “Stella” pays homage to your youngest daughter and features a simplistic backdrop of striking piano keys while your warm vocals wash over. How was the delicate track developed?
Philip Bowen: I wrote that song on the piano, which is not my first instrument, I typically use the guitar as my writing instrument. From the beginning though, I felt the song come to life as I was messing around on the piano. How I put that track together is I worked with a producer and musician who I met through some of the stuff that I’ve done on TikTok and on Instagram. His name is Jake fine. We started with the piano as a base. Then I knew I wanted to have tons of harmonies in there. I also wanted a chill and warm vibe with some electric guitar. So we started with a piano as the foundation and then built on top of that.
This song is so empowering, as it is all about keeping your head up when you feel like everything is trying to bring you down. This track is especially inspiring because with the pandemic, times have been tough for many people. What advice can you provide for others to maintain a positive outlook while struggling to keep their head above water?
Philip Bowen: That’s a deep question. I try as best as I can to not minimize what anybody’s going through and try to look at the reality of what it is. This song is centered around being content in your circumstance, even if it’s not so great at the moment. That doesn’t mean that you don’t hope for change or work for it, but you try to take some comfort in what’s real around you and the people that you hold dear. So when I was writing this, that’s what I had in mind. I was, like everybody else right now, getting bombarded with bad news or tough news all the time. Being a parent as well as a songwriter/musician and trying to keep that balance. Though we try not to shield our kids from reality, we also want to show them that there’s more to it than the bad, the good still exists. Sometimes you have to work for it a little bit. My best advice is to just try to ground yourself into what’s real in the moment and take a lot of comfort in those small joys.
Your line, “I’ve been thinking about tomorrow / it’s gonna be a brighter day /it’s gonna be alright,” conjures up so much strength and passion. What do sunnier days ahead look like for you?
Philip Bowen: I think for me, it looks like explosive growth. I’ve definitely been putting in the work, but specifically over the last several months I’ve been seeing so much growth in my audience. Some of that for me, is to keep chasing those opportunities and enjoying as much as I can of this journey. As an indie musician who is doing more collaborations and meeting new people every day, I just want to enjoy the journey. I would love to be able to do more live, in person shows. I’ve done most of my stuff live streaming because of COVID. That’s really helped me grow. I’ve got plans for some shows in Nashville later this year, and some recorded on there as well.
As I mentioned earlier, this tune is an ode to your daughter. What is the greatest lesson she has taught you?
Philip Bowen: The greatest lesson that I’ve learned from the perspective of a five year old is they can have such a big adventure with what I might consider a mundane thing. Their ability to enjoy whatever’s around is a really good kind of lesson to me. So I’ve learned to try to pay more attention to what’s right in front of me. I’m always looking ahead. Asking, okay, what’s next? I think because time tends to go so quickly, especially if you have kids, it’s important to slow down and enjoy the present.
On the subject of lessons, what is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your musical journey?
Philip Bowen: I would say, maybe one big lesson is that there is an audience for you. Be your authentic self. Social media has been good to me in a lot of ways. Through TikTok I’ve grown so much, and Instagram as well. At the same time though, it’s kind of a prison sometimes, because you get into that game where you’re always comparing or judging yourself based on what others are doing. It can even be your own friend’s success, but it always feels like a race. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is to just stay true to yourself because there is an audience for you. There is somebody out there waiting for your song to be their favorite song. I’ve been just trying to focus on being happy for the success that my friends are having. I try to be myself and really put that authentic self forward to reach the people waiting to hear my stuff.
Who are some artists that have made a huge impact in your life?
Philip Bowen: I love this folk Americana band called the Milk Carton Kids. They’re really great. Also a group called I’m With Her. I love Norah Jones. She is one of my all time favorite artists. I take a lot of influence from that kind of Jazz Bluesy vibe that John Mayer might put out but a lot of roots and Americana music too. It really speaks to me a lot because of the storytelling.
What is next for Philip Bowen?
Philip Bowen: I have another song that I’ve been in the studio working on that has been pretty well received called “Anymore”. I’m in the process of recording that right now. The singles game has been pretty good to me. There are different opportunities that come along, I can work with this person or I can go to this studio to work with this producer. So I’ve been trying many different collaborations. I’m doing it single by single, I’ve got a couple songs that are almost done that I’m working on in the studio. I’ve got a couple of trips down to Nashville planned in the late spring and summer to do some collaborative songwriting, some recording and then some shows. This year is just about trying to keep going and keep growing.
Who are some talents on your current playlist you can recommend to our readers?
Philip Bowen: I love sharing that I have this playlist on my Spotify profile called “jump into my headphones”. I love sharing my music. There’s a guy that I’m actually working with on a track right now called Monrovia. He does some really cool like R&B soulful music. I have been really into the band Lawrence lately. They write some really great stuff. I’ve got some interesting people on there that maybe people aren’t as deep into. There’s an artist named Madison Cunningham, she’s fabulous. If I’m wanting some good sad music and wonderful songwriting, I love Phoebe Bridgers.
Stream: “Stella” – Philip Bowen
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