With a Japanese and Kinh origin and born in the states, Chlorophil is a multi-skilled artist based in California who loves music in different forms.

Dj and music producer, he has managed Synchronos Recordings for 14 years, besides being connected to a good number of labels. And he also travels around the planet performing sets full of slow rhythms, glimpses of classic psychedelia, and an eclectic mindset.

We are delighted to talk with him about music and its surroundings.

Interview by Shantiago on 25/02/24.

Hi Phil, how is it going? Thanks a lot for spending some time talking with us.

It’s been ok but kinda hectic at times, you’re welcome, thank you.

Are you currently in California? How is the lifestyle there nowadays?

Yes, in California. It can be tough but living here almost all my life you get used to it, inflation has caused a lot of stress and covid of course, California has definitely changed a lot from those times as I imagine other places as well.

Let’s start with a short but meaningful question. Who is Chlorophil? The artist.

That is me of course. I originally wanted to be a comic book colorist and thought the name was cool. I was in biology in high school remembering it for the first time, and was thinking it would be a great nickname for me somehow. One day I started using that name with my own spelling of course, to include the spelling of my name in it after my first initial name, Shinichi, which I changed as part of my middle name and means ‘new one’. I became older and not new anymore, so I decided to change it. As for my origins, I say I am Khinese instead of the appropriative Vietnamese because that same area before the war were regions controlled by dynasties. My mother being from the south I deciphered. I must be from one of those dynasties down there and it was the Khin dynasty I chose. I feel kind of offended that my people got renamed when the war happened. My other half is Japanese and I am 5th generation.

Could you tell us about your sound journey before Chlorophil? What’s your relation with music?

Like I said, I wanted to be a comic book artist and couldn’t draw the best, and realized my coloring skills were stuck with that, until some of my friends who I work on comic art from my life drawing class showed me how to make music with a DAW that I still use today which is FL Studio.

Ever since I was a kid I remember making my own compilations on tapes and recorded songs on the radio, and listened to it a lot. Also, my father had an extensive music collection of various sorts and listened to those before I started listening to the current radio stuff. His collection was mostly before my time from the 70s, and I moved onto more of the current stuff coming out that was on the radio.

At one point some friends in the neighborhood started dubbing tapes for me and my brother collected music as well. He enjoyed the alternative stuff from the 80s and I liked some things from that era, but the 80s have some sounds that are too weird to me compared to 70s. I was more into old rock n roll in the 80s and watched MTV a lot, and a lot of that music resides in me. In junior high school I started getting into rap/hip hop music. The production at the time was really good in my opinion, some new sound was coming from those around 93 and 94 especially from the bay area. During most of my high school I listened to rap/hip hop and watched a lot of the music videos from the time. I started working at a music store after getting out of high school and became store manager when I was 19. My cd collection amassed to 1000 cds back then of rap/hip hop.While working at the record store I discovered trip hop and fell in love with that genre and started to grow out of hip hop.

One of my friends got some turntables one day, I started collecting records and played them at his house, and started learning how to Dj back then on them. Then one day I decided to get some turntables and decided to sell all my CDs at once. It was a bad decision to get the turntables since I went for some off brand turntables rather than the standard Technics. I don’t recommend getting some plastic ones, definitely ones with a metal base or wooden ones is recommended. After having my own turntables I started Djing in my own garage. Then one day while I was in college I met a contact who was opening one of the first Hookah lounges in San Jose called the Giza Lounge in the heart of Silicon Valley. So I started spinning music for that and learned on hand the experience of being a Dj. Another Dj, De Nada, brought in & received a letter for sponsorship back then from Six Degrees Records, and we did a night for them giving away promo cds for emails to generate an email list. After so many nights I decided to change my name to Chlorophil.

Dj, music production, label management, graphic design, photography, or philosophy, are some of the activities you are engaged with. Do you find a strong connection between all these types of arts/disciplines?

Of course, there are a lot of connections to it all, one thing helping the other.

Where do you get inspiration from?

I get inspiration from many things like my travels and the people I meet, all help inspire me. Also from video games, movies, and even comics.

Could we know a bit about your label Synchronos Recordings? What is the concept, mission and history behind it?

I used to throw events before and at one point didn’t do too well with the results, so I stopped and started a label instead. The music events were only temporary and with a music label it’s there forever, and I don’t feel as bad for losing money on it. So, overall to help promote the music I love and at the same time inspire others. My first start with the label was when I moved to San Francisco and moved in with Doctor Spook of Geomagnetic distribution. He wanted me to make an album for him and I decided to do a label which I thought would be better than just an album, so that is how the first release happened. I am very thankful for that opportunity.

Do you think Dj and production are similar fields or totally different ones? How do you organize yourself by creating music?

They are both in the music field and can help each other like I stated in the previous question, but definitely two different things. Djing for me is a lot of fun and a good way to share more vast music that I love than just my own creation. As for creating music, I work with various samples recorded myself, or from other samples or remix packs, and VST plugins. I separate all the samples by year just like my music collection now for digital tracks, and tend to reuse my favorites. At the same time experimenting with sounds I haven’t tried or heard in other songs, or coming up with stuff I heard in other songs too. I call my stuff minimal chillout but always trying to put in dub elements, or bossanova, or tango styles.

The number of mixes of Chlorophil constantly uploaded on the internet is significant. Are you the kind of person who is constantly listening to artists from different genres? How do you focus on mixing different styles as Dj?

I try to keep it consistent as I am sponsored by many labels. I feel like I need to help promote the music somehow and keep it fresh with the new stuff coming out from them. There is so much good music and it’s constantly evolving, so it’s good to keep it fresh along with some of the classics or faves that I grew to love over the years. I am very thankful for all the support from the fans and labels that support me. The labels themselves are constantly evolving so there are always gonna be some different genres. You can be anywhere in the world and still listen to my music by having my mixes on the internet.

When I DJ’d at the Hookah lounge I curated each night it was a different genre of music each night, so each night was one specific genre that ranged from house/broken beat, IDM, hip hop, dub, DNB, and world electronica. In my mixes it can range or be one specific genre. A lot of times I do it by bpms to mix each track but my mixes go in range of the whole bpm spectrum at times. I make different playlists for each mix or genre, which can be like psy dub or psy bass/dnb IDM, or psychedelic ambient trance to deep house, acid illbient psychill, or psybient progressive, and even ambient, or ambient dub to minimal, or ambient techno downtempo trip-hop shoegaze.

What are your plans for this year? Are you planning to travel a bit and share some music?

I started the year with a festival down in Mexico in Chiapas called Psycristrance, one of the biggest gatherings down there for psychedelic music. This year working on some releases from my label, soon will be the 28th release, the next compilation called Inner Temples, which has an amazing cover by visionary artist Samuel Farrand. The compilation has been in the works since the last compilation was released 2 years ago.

Next summer I will be back at Ozora for my 6th year straight, and playing the ambient stage. They always do a nice job with the music and definitely one of my favorites. I will probably check out some festivals in Europe around that time which I will announce later. Every month I try to upload at least a mix spotlighting the new stuff coming in from the various labels that sponsor me like Cosmicleaf, Mindspring Music, and many others disclosed but maybe can figure it out by checking out the mixes. I also have been making videos now with the mixes and AI art generated from the song titles, and been putting them up on youtube trying to build up my channel.

California has always been a source of art and creativity. How is the psychedelic chill out music scene there?

California definitely is known for many things, but the chillout scene is very underground. There used to be more chill rooms surrounding the events, but now it’s an alternate room with more dance-style music, so it’s pretty rare to find some chill events. Covid hit and inflation too, so that has been sparse but very thankful for the events that do happen. Sometimes it’s just a concert or show.

Do you find a relationship between art and philosophy?

Definitely a relationship. As a picture without words, it does tell many things, sometimes more than just the words themselves.

Who is Phil? The human.

Some are definitely a mystery to me, and some I have already told. But overall, a person with sincerity and a love for nature and the environment, not more for the cities and crowds. I do love technology when it’s safe to use and not ruining our environment.

Before finishing, would you like to send a message to the psybient.org growing and glowing community?

A big thank you for all the help it has been making over the years, and for the spotlight on me.

We appreciate your words and observations, now we know a bit more about the creativity of Chlorophil. We will continue enjoying your versatile approach to music. See you soon at the dance (or chill) floor, a big hug!

Hugs, much love!

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