Mr. Bill, Ableton master and production sorcerer, impresses time and time again, and his newest album Phantasmagorical is no exception. Released on April 19th via Mr. Bill’s Tunes, this reimagination of the original album, Phantasmagoria, is not one to miss!
“Phantasmagorical” is defined as something with a dreamlike, fantastical, or shifting appearance, similar to an optical illusion. In this 21-track album, Mr. Bill, along with other music masterminds, creates an experience that transforms his original album Phantasmagoria into an expanded mirage.
Mr. Bill Unveils Phantasmagorical: a Generous Mix of Genres and Flips.
Over 2 years in the making, Phantasmagorical presents a collection of VIPs and remixes that, as Mr. Bill puts it, make you have and fix an existential crisis. Consistent, creative, and collaborative, this exceptional audio engineer delivers a unique and thorough experience. In addition to the album’s release, it will be accompanied by 1,000 special edition vinyl versions. Perfect for collectors and fans alike, the deliverance of this album is remarkable.
Introducing flips from the likes of Virtual Riot, Dirt Monkey, and The Widdler, Phantasmagorical showcases the genius of the top dubstep wizards. There are technically beautiful remixes from the brilliant minds of Player Dave, Culprate, Resonant Language, AHEE, and more. Collective and cohesive, the album spans genres like drum and bass, glitch, UK garage, melodic bass house, and dubstep.
Ahead of the release, we had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Bill to discuss the Phantasmagorical release and the stories behind it.
Nix (Electric Hawk): What happened during the pandemic that kick-started the idea for this album?
Mr. Bill: First and foremost, writing the original album was the biggest catalyst for doing a remix release surrounding it. That came as a product of having more studio time than I knew what to do during 2020. Up until the pandemic, I’d just been releasing EPs of different genres (wub EP, halftime EP, IDM EP, etc.). About halfway through the pandemic, it became obvious that I had enough material to put together a family of tracks I’d consider an album that I was proud of.
After seeing the response to it from existing (and new) fans, I decided it might make sense to essentially try to re-hash that album in a new way. I always find it interesting to hear other artist’s takes on motifs in tracks of mine, so it was also somewhat a product of curiosity.
N: How do the original concepts of language and the expression of emotion translate into the remix album? Was there a new concept you wanted to weave in, or is it building off of the original idea?
Mr. Bill: So, the original album concept for Phantasmagoria was that language is a terrible mode of expression for what one is trying to tell another in regard to explaining intangible things (such as feelings, or emotions). Phantasmagoria was a nod to the form of horror theatre created by using magic lanterns to project scary images onto a wall. I was thinking of it more like Plato’s Cave. In this instance, I was thinking of the shadows cast on the cave wall as what language actually ends up being; A shadow of the actual thing we’re trying to express. The Phantasmagoria cover is also based on this.
For Phantasmagorical, however, I didn’t actually tell any of the remixers this specifically to legitimately further this concept. Their remixes are now an interpretation of a feeling I had and was trying to express to people through music. [But it’s] in their understanding, or as they see it. So in that way, I suppose it is building off the original idea a little bit!
N: Tell me about the collaboration process with all of these incredible artists! Did you have anyone in mind right off the bat that you knew needed to be on it? Can you explain your decision-making process when reviewing songs for the album?
Mr. Bill: Honestly, I just started hitting up friends I knew had been doing amazing work recently and asked them if they’d be down to remix something from the album! I wish I could tell you I had some crazy, in-depth vetting process, but in all honesty, I just picked people based on a gut feeling that I thought they’d do a good job with the specific tune I gave them (or in some cases, the one they picked).
N: Virtual Riot remixed “Pleasure Seeker” and “Too Complicated;” they mix together so seamlessly. Can you tell me the story of how these tunes came to be and the communication between you two during this process?
Mr. Bill: For Virtual Riot, I knew he’d nail any of them. So I just gave him stems to everything and said, “Do whichever tune you want!” He came back to me with a double remix of both of those tunes. The communication between us during that process was literally non-existent. He just took the stems and came back with a masterpiece (as he does).
N: Were you looking for a medley of specific genres for this project, or was it up to the other artists to make what they wanted?
Mr. Bill: It was entirely up to the artists! Once they returned a draft version, in some cases I’d give them guidance. Generally, I just left it up to their discretion, as I picked them initially to do their thing. I didn’t want to get in the way of that too much in fear that it’d just become too much my thing again.
N: The artwork created by Funilab is absolutely incredible and detailed! Were there any special or specific details that you wanted to be included?
Mr.Bill: Yeah, actually! Funi asked me for a list of references to add to the artwork. He wanted to make it incredibly detailed, or rather one-up himself from the original artwork (which was already insanely detailed). But he needed ideas. So I just stream-of-consciousness gave him a list of about 50 ideas to add in. Some of these included Street Fighter, Pikmin, and old release covers he’s done for me. There are logos from artists involved in the album, as well as artists I look up to for inspiration, references to various games, films, etc. All sorts of random things. It’s fun artwork to look at in detail. I find something new in it almost every time. He did an absolutely incredible job.
N: Let’s talk vinyl! Are there any special songs on them that aren’t on the digital versions?
Mr. Bill: So, for the vinyl, technically none of them are the digital versions. They’ve all been remastered specifically for vinyl. As for the musical content of them, no, they’re all the same as the digital versions. Vinyl just requires a different type of master, as it can’t be as loud, bass-y, or stereo. This causes problems for the needle during playback and risks it jumping out of the grooves, or degradation of quality. As such, they are all unique in that way, but no, no version differences.
N: Is there anything else you would like to add either about this project or about what’s going on with life?
Mr. Bill: With life, I’m currently doing a bunch of shows and working on a new album which I’ll hopefully finish and have released by the fall. Shows can be found at https://mrbillstunes.com/tour/. If people want to be notified of upcoming shows in the future in their city, just follow me on BandsInTown! We update it regularly with new shows.
We feel so lucky over the opportunity to review and dive into the world that is Mr. Bill’s Phantasmagorical. Between the reimagined flips and jam-packed VIPs, we hope you enjoy it as much as we have!
Listen to all of Phantasmagorical below!
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