In 2012, the world was introduced to Pheelz the record producer after Olamide’s ‘First of All’ did incredible numbers and became a street anthem. But the real journey started about a decade before then when Phillip Kayode Moses (real names) was only ten years old and was a singer in his local church in Ojo, a Lagos suburb area.
As at 2011, the multi-dimensional creative was signed under ID Cabassa’s Coded Tunes, and that was where he met Olamide who is still considered to be the king of Nigerian street pop music. After their meeting and the start of their work relationship, everything changed for Pheelz.
With production, songwriting and background vocals credits on a countless number of hit songs in the Afrobeats scene, Pheelz only finally decided to release his music as an artiste after the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world.
“Itty, it wouldn’t be good of me to have gifts like this and keep them to myself,” he confessed in a chat with us concerning the release of his latest EP project, ‘Pheelz Good’. “The lockdown also gave me the mindset that I could die anytime, so I was really driven to put out my best to the world with all my talents.”
The belief he has in his art was so tangible while he spoke that one could almost reach out to the atmosphere and actually touch it. And this is typical Pheelz: strong-willed, creative and determined.
In 2022, he dropped a smash internet hit record with BNXN, formerly known as Buju, titled Finesse. The song went on to become the number one song in the country, peaked at 131 in the US and got to the #1 spot on UK Afrobeats charts. This was just before he released Electricity which featured one of Africa’s greatest, Davido. But in all sincerity, everything changed for Pheelz after Finesse.
“Life has genuinely been a movie recently. I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world and perform for my fans. It’s a blessing that I don’t take for granted at all,” he said.
We speak to Pheelz about his artistry, Rii Collective and his latest EP, ‘Pheelz Good’.
This piece has been edited for length and clarity.
It’s been interesting observing your journey, how does it feel transitioning to an artist after being a producer for a long time?
It’s not really a transition for me. It’s who I’ve been for a while and it took the world some time to catch up. I got into production mainly because of the songs I wrote as a kid. I’ve always been on this side of the spectrum. Even though people are only now just realizing it, it’s just the same old me really.
Is there something you didn’t have to worry about as a producer but now how to worry about as an artist?
As a producer, you don’t have to worry about the stage or touring. But as an artist, you have to worry about that and I like worrying about that actually. Pheelz on stage is my favorite Pheelzs’ because I love performing.
You come off as a shy person, are you?
I used to be shy but not anymore.
What changed you?
Life. I used to be a shy person while growing up but I had to drop that.
Give us some interesting facts about ‘Pheelz Good’.
Pheelz Good is an E.P. of three different emotions. The artwork has three of my masks that signify the three different emotions. So there’s the loverboy mask, there’s a bad boy mask and then there’s the groovy mask. Through the jams on the project, I hope to be able to show the world how much of a lover I am, my bad boy nature and how much I love to have fun.
What are your five favorite songs to perform?
In no order; Stand By You, Wayward Girl, Finesse, Electricity, One Life – literally all my songs to be honest. Stand By You just puts me and the fans in a space of love and vulnerability. It’s such a beautiful song with its message and it’s really a great experience for the fans. Especially if they’re with someone they have affection for.
“The fact that I can express myself and my art in various ways and have the world embrace it is fulfillment on its own”
Do you think that other artists see you as a competition now?
To each, his own honestly. Whoever wants to see me as a competition can do so, but I don’t see anyone as a competition and I don’t think anyone should see me as a competition because I’m just trying to share my art and tell my own story.
What motivates you at your lowest?
It’s just knowing what you want, and understanding that this is your journey and no one else’s. That’s what motivates me. I like focusing on the positives and the number of things I can spend my energy on, because no one knows tomorrow; that’s the beauty in life and also the scary thing about it but I choose to focus on the beauty.
You seem to be heavily involved in making your project covers. Tell us more about that.
My visual art skills have always been a muscle I regularly use. For most of the songs I produced back in the day, I made the album cover as well, like the Olamide songs and so on. It was a skill that was building alongside my music production. It started with apps like Photoshop and just painting, then it gravitated toward 3D and visual arts. So I make all my artworks just to keep polishing my skills because I have big plans for that medium.
Recently I got the chance to work with EA Sports on FIFA ‘23 where I designed a FUT kit and a stadium. Jewelry design is also a thing I’ve been working on with Icebox, ‘the first Infinity stone’ was a ring I released with them. I just wanna create fearlessly beyond being an artist, getting my hand into fashion, tech, and all that.
How does it feel when you play FIFA and Finesse comes on?
Honestly, it feels like a child’s dream come true. Fun fact, while we were recording BNXN’s verse for the song, we were playing FIFA and I can remember us saying this song would be a dope FIFA song. It’s just crazy how everything turned out.
“No one should see me as a competition. I’m just trying to share my art and tell my story”
When it’s all said and done, what’s going to be that benchmark of fulfillment for you?
Considering I don’t have one now, I doubt I’ll ever have one. The way the world works, it always has you expecting what’s next. I feel like fulfillment is from within. It’s gotten from the process and not in the result. The fact that I can express myself and my art in various ways and have the world embrace it is fulfillment on its own. I don’t think there’s any particular thing that can bring that feeling.
Words: Itty Okim
Itty can be caught studying African pop culture, writing about it or hosting a relationship podcast. When he's not doing any of these, then he's definitely at a bar, getting mocktail.