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The Dartmouth
February 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Q&A with musician and producer phin on his upcoming single

Musician and producer Phineas Choukas discusses the Upper Valley’s influence on his music.

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Courtesy of Simon Reed and Phineas Choukas

The Upper Valley has been a recent hot-spot for budding musicians, and phin is the newest to begin his solo music career. phin began his music career as a producer, frequently collaborating with his childhood friend Hans Williams. During the pandemic, he also produced the “Cape Elizabeth” EP by Noah Kahan. A Hanover High School alumnus and a recent Middlebury College graduate, phin has shifted attention to his own music with the single “you would never fall in love with me,” released Jan. 19.

What has been the journey with “you would never fall in love with me” and its upcoming release?

PC: I wrote the song after I was done with my classes at Middlebury last winter, and I was home in Hanover. I had been working on my solo project that whole fall, but nothing was really clicking. I just kind of started “you would never fall in love with me”without thinking too much about it. A lot of the songs that I make, they’re not intentional things, and this song was definitely not intentional. It kind of just flowed out of the subconscious. 

That whole period I was alone a lot, and I was feeling isolated. It’s kind of disguised as an unrequited love song, but it’s really an epiphany that self love and self acceptance is the foundation for all love. So, it sounds a little “woe is me” in parts of it, but it’s really an uplifting song. It was also really significant to me because it was a different sound than what I was making all year and marked a shift in my style from hip-hop-adjacent music to more indie stuff. 

How does the song and the music video capture Hanover and the Upper Valley?

PC: I think at least for myself, during the winter, especially when you’re alone, there’s just a lot of time to reflect on things, and it’s a very reflective song. I think even though there’s some electronic aspects to it, I try to make everything just sit in a mood rather than have crazy build ups and sections of the songs. 

Simon Reed, my videographer, and I had honestly no plans of making a music video when we went out in the Hanover area. He got in touch with me and was like, “Hey, dude, I love the song. If you want to film some content for it, hit me up.” We went out there, and what was going to be like 30 minutes or an hour turned into just making that video in two days. I’m really happy with it. 

Is there anything about the Upper Valley that specifically inspires you as a musician?

PC: It’s just such a beautiful place and the people are just really down to earth. Every time I go back I just feel like I’m home, and I’m comforted there. It’s definitely a goal of mine to move back to either Norwich or Hanover at some point later in my career. There’s no place like it, honestly. 

What has been the process with pursuing this solo career versus producing? Have they been parallel or were you focusing on producing first? 

PC: Yeah, I definitely started as a producer and that was my thing for a while, and it continues to be. I started producing in seventh grade when my brother Nate was producing, and I just always copied everything he did. I was producing electronic music, and in high school, my childhood friend Hans Williams, was making indie music. We got together one day and made some music, and that kind of broadened my horizons to getting into more indie and pop production. So, I’ve been producing for a while and at some point during the pandemic, I ran out of people to sing on my beats. So I was like, “hey, I’ll give this a shot.” 

Earlier, you were talking about your shift from EDM to indie folk music. What has that shift been like? 

PC: It’s been great because I think it’s just a more honest sound for me, rather than trying to make pop over rap beats. Although I do love producing that kind of thing for my own expression, I think it’s a more natural fit. I’ve also been learning the guitar over the past year, and that’s just had a huge impact on my songwriting. Sometimes it’s hard to write a song when you’re just sitting in front of a computer, but with the guitar, it’s just a really natural process. I think it’s helping with my storytelling for sure. So while this first song did not come about on the guitar, a lot of the songs that I’ll be releasing in the future have been.  

Is there anything you can share about what’s coming next for you?

PC: Yeah, I will be releasing a few singles this year. I’m just trying to be really intentional about sharing a small selection of songs that I’ve been making, and that might turn into an EP, or it might just be singles. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.


Elle Muller

Elle Muller ’24 is an English and theatre major from Tucson, Arizona. She currently serves as the news executive editor, and in the past, she wrote and edited for Arts. In addition to writing, Elle is involved with dance at Dartmouth.