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A Sit Down With: Phabo and Shaé Universe

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

For this slow jam Sunday, we converse with R&B heartthrob, San Diego native Phabo and the UK's smokey vocalist Shaé Universe on their new single 'Out of Touch'.

"Calling you soon as I get off. You hit me on my break, but I was working. It didn't work in my favour, so I'm calling you later. I'm praying that you stayed up, baby."

Phabo's verse from 'Out of Touch'

Boy you know I ain't tryna wait for tour. You give me attention but I still need more. How can I find the words to say. Out of sight and I'm out the way, I tried

Shaé Universe's verse 'Out of Touch'

'Out of Touch' from Phabo's untitled album, is a modern-day sonnet of call and response between lovers chasing one another across timezones.

With 5,400+ miles between them, this ballad captures transpondian sounds, birthing an indelible offering to the genre. Phabo's repentant lyrics meet Shaé's desires as the contrast of voices coast along the evocative instrumental. Its pace is steady as we fixate on the words transporting back and forth. From the opening line, listeners encounter the era of R&B, where men carry their hearts on their sleeves, imploring for a second chance to prove why their love is more than enough to stand against mileage. Phabo's tone is tender and sincere. Setting the story's mood outlined, Phabo's presence on the track is similar to a lullaby, bringing comfort. Shae's harmonies are sensual and passionate, enriching the tonality of the single and magnifying the cosiness the song exudes.

Intrigued by this duo's musical chemistry, we were eager to uncover the story behind the new single. "Our mutual friend, Saskia, made the link possible," Phabo told us." Our processes are very much alike. We have very similar ways in which we make songs. And so when we aligned on that, we merged those ideas, those melodies and built a story. COVID and long-distance relationships introduced the idea of being isolated from someone you care about.[Coming up with] all those ideas for the song was very simple and organic."

"[The song] really pushed me," Shaé revealed. 'It challenged me to try things that were already aligned with what I was doing, but further. Phabo is very much a vocal producer and an artist himself. You can hear it in his execution of things. It was a fun experience for me, and we got a great result."

Phabo: [this collaboration] is important because it shows that international songs can be easily made. It shows that a specific sound can be achieved and still be received and receptive well. It's essential because it refreshes its essence. It's the basics, but it's exactly what's needed. And I appreciate it. So, thank you, Shaé.

Shaé Universe: Thank you. Thank you. And to add to that, there's so much conversation about R&B and 'is R&B dead' and 'UK R&B, American R&B', and with this collaboration, we got a perfect balance. It feels familiar, but I've never heard this before, like this. It's fresh, but it's still retro. And we hit the nail on its head.

Love and R&B's deep-rooted affair is one to stand the test of time. Being the soundtrack to the lessons of the heart, the finest love songs of the 90s and 00s, such as Anita Baker's 'Sweet Love' and Keke Wyatt's 'Long As I Live' shapeshift into assorted sermons, pulling on heartstrings while soothing fractured threads. "The greatest love ballad is doing what's already been done," Phabo proclaimed. "The formula we followed was no different. It's reaching back to the greats if you want to get the best results."

"I want to echo that," Shaé began. "Creating a new age love ballad is capturing the nostalgic essence of the 90s. It's a new age, so modern aspects are probably tailored to today's generation, but the essence is still nostalgic."

The messaging surrounding long-distance relationships often fixates on yearning, circumstances and the need to fuel that burning flame. For some, LDRs are temporary fixes, concealing mandatory questions on whether or not love is all that matters.

Shaé Universe: I used to think I couldn't do LDRs because I needed the physical touch and quality time. But when my life started to get busy, I noticed LDRs give you enough time to miss each other. So you can go off and do your thing and then come back, and that time [together] becomes more intentional."

Phabo: I agree. LDRs are also subjective. It's about what you really want. Many artists like the story of being "bicoastal lovers"-- 'I come to New York or wherever you're at to live out this fantasy, or you come here, and then we have the time apart. But it comes with certain downsides too. Like not being there when certain situations go down or whatever the case may be.

Expected to appear on his next LP, Phabo ensures that 'Out of Touch' is just a glimpse of what's to come. "I'm super excited about it," he beamed. "I talked to some of my friends from London, and I've seen that they appreciate the musicality much more than any other region, in

the literal sense. They can tell you about the saxophone parts, the trumpet, that you didn't think they'd pick up on. I'm excited about this project because there's a lot of that. There are a lot of things to pick apart. There's a lot of things to pay attention to."

Shaé didn't disappoint either: "I'm getting ready to drop my second EP," she revealed. "This project is really going to define me in the R&B space. I'm excited."

We look forward to indulging in their new releases once baked and ready to consume. Until then, add 'Out of Touch' to your Sunday rotation and stream it now.


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