Phil Innes is a composer and “organiser of sound” living in Cornwall. He makes music and sound for a wide range of contexts including concerts, theatre, film, dance, installations, and mobile device apps. He is also a music educator. Phil draws inspiration equally from the rock music of his formative years (Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Flaming Lips, Sigur Rós), avant-garde classical (Morton Feldman, György Ligeti), minimalism and post-minimalism (Steve Reich, John Adams), and sound art (Janek Schaefer, Susan Philipsz). He has a reputation for versatility, creativity and professionalism.
Phil began his musical life by playing electric guitar in rock bands but his natural curiosity and desire to experiment led him to more and more diverse musical projects. In his early 20s, Phil was part of a group of friends making theatre in a very low budget, DIY kind of way. As the budgets and, therefore, range and scope of these theatre (and later film) projects increased, so did Phil’s skill and confidence.
In 1990, Phil was taken under the wing of Peter West at Music Publishing Services. Peter is a leading music engraver and editor with over 30 years experience specialising in complex modern scores. This unlikely friendship still endures today. Here Phil learnt about notation, computers and MIDI but, more importantly, Peter introduced Phil to music from composers such as Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Kaija Saariaho. Working on producing scores for these composers was an eye opening experience for a young, self-taught rock guitar player to say the least! But the excitement of this avant-garde music combined with all the other influences from rock, jazz and world music to feed Phil’s voracious appetite for new ideas.
Starting in 2000, Phil spent 4 years working as composer and musical director for the Ordinalia cycle of plays. This was a large scale, outdoor community theatre project. The ensemble was an unlikely collection of musicians from a wide range of musical backgrounds. Phil was able to harness these disparate forces to make distinctive music that became an intrinsic part of the world of the plays.
In 2008 Phil composed for Barabas at The Hall for Cornwall. An international company of actors and musicians performed this reworking of the Jew of Malta that was described by Lyn Gardiner in The Guardian as a “gruesome romp”.
Since 2008 Phil has been composer and musical director for the Potted Productions series of plays. These plays continue to tour internationally meaning that Phil’s music has been heard all over North America, Mexico, South Africa, The Philippines, Australia, Singapore and elsewhere. These shows rely heavily on pastiche, parody and satire and this is reflected in the eclectic range of music that Phil has produced for them.
Working with Seabright Productions, Phil has produced music for 4 shows that have played in London’s West End. A highlight was 2013’s Eric and Little Ern, the play about Morecambe and Wise. For this, Phil needed to recreate the sound of a classic variety show pit band.
Some of Phil’s credits include, Hall for Cornwall, Effervescent, Miracle, Kneehigh, Collective Arts, O-region, The Ordinalia Company, Tangle, Light Theatre, Seabright Productions and Potted Productions.
Beginning in 2013, Phil has been working with Kneehigh making the Walk With Me app for iOS and Android devices. The app currently covers 3 towns and villages in Cornwall but is being expanded to cover 3 more. As the user walks around a location, GPS hotspots trigger audio stories heard through headphones. The audio is a combination of actors voices, music, sound design and foley.
Phil has also been making all aspects of sound for a series of short online films with Kneehigh.
Current projects include an installation piece with Effervescent at the Radiant Gallery. Phil is collaborating with a team of artists and technicians to make an interactive installation that combines multi-channel sound, robotics and video.