Alternative pop musician Jake Germany performs under the name Phangs. In contrast with his pseudonym’s vampiric connotations, Phangs’ music is delicate, contemplative and symphonic.
He was scheduled to perform in four shows during South by Southwest in his third year at the festival until the city of Austin canceled the event for the first time in its 34-year history.
Upon hearing about the cancellation, Phangs sent an Instagram message to the Texan and said the news was heartbreaking.
“I still find so much of my favorite music at SXSW,” Phangs said. “Such a bummer.”
The Daily Texan spoke with the Phangs on March 6, hours before the city canceled the event.
The Daily Texan: Tell me about the type of music you perform and your background as a musician.
Phangs: I started doing this pop music because my parents were really young when they had me. They were 17 years old. I grew up in Texas, and while all my friends were watching “Sesame Street” and stuff like that, I grew up watching “MTV Spring Break” with my mom … I grew up on Michael Jackson, TLC and Whitney … and that made me who I am as a person. So when I started making this music myself, it was a natural, obvious thing.
DT: Tell me about your experiences growing up and how you decided to become a musician.
P: I’ve been making music since I was in high school … I grew up playing in bands and … driving down to South By and sneaking into shows that weren’t all ages, climbing fences and going through back doors trying to be around music. So whenever I moved to Nashville … I’ve lived there for eight years, there was something that switched ...This is (what I wanted to do), these were the songs I wanted to sing about.
DT: Since you used to sneak into SXSW when you were younger, what is it like being able to perform there now?
P: I think it’s amazing. My friends and I would drive from Tyler, Texas, down to Austin. There’s a hotel that got built right across the street from Stubb’s, but it used to be a parking garage. We would go buy a case of beer and go up to the top of the parking garage during South By, and you could see over into Stubb’s and watch whoever you wanted. We did that all the time. We crawled through friend’s fences to see our favorite bands. It’s really cool now that maybe a full circle thing will happen and people (will try) to sneak into my shows.
DT: As someone who has jumped fences and snuck into parking garages, when it comes to making music, would you say you have a bit of a rebellious streak, or are you more of a rule follower?
P: I still am covered in tattoos and I grew up playing rock ‘n’ roll music, and I think that’s who I am. Even though I play shimmery pop music live, it’s a different vibe. It almost feels like a hip-hop show, a rock show at times, whenever I’m performing. I think that’s ingrained in me as a Southern, Texas boy. There’s something in there that’s like, “No one’s going to tell me what to do. I’m going to do what I want.”