It’s been almost a year since you were diagnosed with polyps on your vocal chords and told you would need surgery. How did you react to the news?
I felt so distressed, lost, frustrated and afraid. I had to cancel months of shows. The doctor said that after the surgery I would have to be silent – no talking, no singing for a month. He also told me the surgery isn’t always 100% successful. He didn’t know for sure whether I’d be able to sing professionally again. You can imagine how scary that was for a professional singer. I remember feeling, ‘If I can’t sing, then what else can I do? Who am I?’
I realised I felt lost because of the potential of losing this thing I’d placed my self-worth and identity in. I remember being silent in the back room of my house and kneeling and asking God for direction, help and peace. He responded in a massive way. There have only been a few times where I’ve undoubtedly felt the presence of God in my heart and my mind. He spoke directly to my heart. It was so simple: ‘Phil, you’re my child. I’m your father, trust me.’ In a way bigger way than ever before, he opened my eyes, heart and soul to the understanding that I’m a child of God. I felt a flood of peace. I realised I’ve nothing to fear. I was full of joy.
A couple of weeks later they checked on me and were blown away by how miraculously fast everything had healed up. I remember telling the doctor, ‘I’ve had thousands of people praying for me.’ He looked at me strangely, as if to say, ‘That’s not science!’ But [my rapid recovery] was totally a response to prayer. Over the next year I slowly but surely started to get strength back in my vocal chords. Now I’m feeling great.
What’s the message you want to communicate on this album?
I want this record to draw in those who haven’t yet believed in Christ and accepted him. And for those who have, it’s so easy in this day and age, with all the distractions and lies and insecurity, to forget our real standing in life. What we do is a big part of who we are. But way bigger is who God says we are. Our ‘capital I’ identity is that we are children of God. It’s amazing to experience the freedom of a life that believes that. I cannot wait to sing these songs with people, written from this place of new-found identity of being a child of God.
Is the sound similar to your last studio record?
This album takes a pretty strong departure from The Ascension. This new record is the biggest sounding record of mine to date. It’s got a lot of electronic sounds on it: electric guitars and big choruses. I’m the worst at describing my own music, but I’m more proud of this record than anything else I’ve ever created. Creatively, it pushes forward more than anything else I’ve done.
What music has been inspiring you lately?
Anything I can get my hands on that has a beautiful melody, chorus and hook, and that is surrounded by programmed electronic beauty. Anything from full-on dance club music to low-key, vibey electronic beats. Lately I love any music that’s been programmed and has come out of a computer.
Children of God was released on 8th April