Philip Taouk aka Phil Toke, is a Sydney-based DJ, producer, event organiser and co-founder of local music networks, Soul of Sydney and Our House Sydney. His diverse musical style encompasses everything from deep house to afrobeat, disco, soul, and funk, and his broad musical scope and technical skills don’t cloud his philosophy to his work though – he keeps that simple. To keep the quality music flowing, to play with passion and to always keep it coming from the heart.
Soul of Sydney is a collectively run ‘soul & funk’ music network including, DJ’s, musicians, producers & break dancers working together to support and promote Funk, Soul, Disco, Hip Hop, House & Afro-Beat exposure throughout Sydney. Having been involved in Sydney’s music scene for over 10 years, Phil brings with him a wealth of experience that has seen him play alongside some of the world’s most influential DJs and vocalists.
His musical passion and talent has also seen him perform in New York and the Middle East, playing at popular party destinations around Beirut and in Dubai. These included famed clubs such as Crobar and the Basement. A&R man Simon Huxtable spent an afternoon recently chatting with Phil about his passion, his events and his thoughts on wider issues.
Hi Phil, can you introduce yourself and give us a little bit about your background?
I have been DJing since 1999 and still is one of my greatest passions in life. Im the youngest of 6 children and my siblings are much older than me, so I grew up listening to all different forms of music including disco, funk, rock and jazz. I really enjoy and pride myself on being able to play different genres
Seems you’ve had some DJ aliases in the past. DJ Toke?!
When I first started Uni, I was doing gigs under the name DJ Philthy, which was lame in hindsight. Im content with Phil Toke at the moment. Ha!
Talk us through the funk and soul scene in Australia. Who are the main players and how big is it there?
The Funk and Soul scene in Australia isn’t the biggest, but its growing. I would like to think that our party (Soul Of Sydney) is one of the main players giving back to Soul and Funk lovers
Can you tell us about your night, Soul of Sydney. How did you get started, what challenge did you face finding a venue, and how has the night developed?
Soul Of Sydney is a Sunday afternoon party. We are an independent, grassroots, artist run collective, bonded by a love of ‘funk’ and ‘soul’ based music in all its forms. A creative family of DJ’s, Musicians, Producers, Dancers & Designers who have come together to promote and support the music they love as well as the street culture (dance, DJing, street art) around it in Sydney.
Talk us through event day in the life of a promoter. What happens, where do you go and how do you problem solve last minute issues?
It is very hectic on event day and all the organisers have to be on their toes and focused on providing a successful party for our soul family who come to enjoy a day on the dancefloor. Problems always arise but the great deal of planning and preparation that go into the party allows us to overcome any obstacles we may encounter. Patience and staying calm under pressure also helps
A lot of young DJs see promoting as an easy life; a way of making a fast buck. What advice would you give them on the realities?
If bringing people together through music is a genuine passion of yours, then this passion will drive you to put on great events. Those in it for a buck don’t last the distance.
Sydney’s nightlife has taken a bit hit recently with club closures. Firstly, how has the city reacted, and have you had to take any steps to protect your brand?
The city is disappointed with the short sightedness of the lock out laws. These laws hurt our arts, culture and night time trade and employment. So we live in hope that our city’s nightlife will flourish soon. Our parties are during the day, so we are not affected by the laws.
Tell us about your fellow Soul of Sydney DJs. What makes them special to you?
Sydney is blessed to have so many talented DJ’s. We tend to book DJ’s who can play a variety of genres and can read a crowd well.
Whats the next generation of DJs like in Sydney? Anyone standing out for you?
Most of the next gen DJ’s I know are into EDM so the future is looking bleak haha! For the most part, Sydney has many amazing DJ’s and the younger generation’s musical tastes will change and become more refined as they grow older in my opinion.
Away from dance music you work as a Chiropractor. Any clubbing injuries come your way?
Haha the most common dance floor injuries are injured low backs and sprained ankles. I’ve had a lot of them!
We notice your pretty active on social media. How important to brand identity is it to be visible on social networks and what are your thoughts on internet beefs to draw attention to yourself?
Its very important to let people who may be interested in what we do, know about us. Letting them know what our brand stands for and what our parties are about and why they are so unique. The only beef we’re interested in is the one you can cook!!
Another big topic the last few months has been the developments in the Soundcloud story. Do DJs and artists have enough information about how copyright works, and if not, how might sites like Soundcloud increase clarity and transparency to reverse the growing trend of negativity towards it?
I don’t think the bulk of DJs would have even thought about copyright before soundcloud take-down notices started to appear. I think of the legalities of copyright and how they are applied in the digital age might well have to be reassessed now that streaming sites have become so popular. Most of the negativity was from the closing of peoples accounts on the back of a handful of copyright notices without giving users the chance to pull down mixes prior.
Well, its been wonderful to chat with you Phil, whats next for the night and where can we hear you live?
Our next party will be Soul Of Sydney’s 4th birthday in November. You can also hear me playing at clubs, bars and festivals around Sydney such as The Clock Hotel, Kings Cross Hotel, Ravesis and Soulfest. I’ll also be doing a tour of Europe in summer 2016…so any promoters out there hit me up!