When she was making “the indie stuff”, Phoebe Green would have never believed that her future lay in being a pop star. “This would’ve been my worst fucking nightmare,” she says. The Manchester-based soloist has fully embraced the poptimism she didn’t think was “cool” as a teenager.
In 2016, she was writing gentle indie numbers that culminated in her debut album, 02:00 AM, released during her A-levels. Afterwards, Green took some time out to develop her music, eventually bridging the gap between the sounds of her earlier, guitar-spun songs and her latest material with the more buoyant indie disco ditties of 2020’s I Can’t Cry for You EP and other standalone singles.
With her second album, Lucky Me, the 24-year-old Lancashire native throws her biggest sonic development curveball yet, as industrial synths, bold beats and bass invite the listener to the dance floor.
Despite Green’s new direction, her lyrical prowess is as strong as ever. The album’s first single, ‘Make It Easy’, is just one example: “I’ve got too much pride to set myself up for rejection / I let too many opportunities slide before I lay out my intentions,” she sings as she recalls indulging in a casual sexual relationship to protect herself against the hurt deeper commitment might bring.
Green is known for self-analytical lyrics that reflect on the complexities of her personality and, in turn, the fallibility of humankind. Born out of “a fear of being misunderstood”, it’s an openness that’s been nurtured by her close-knit family and “shitloads of therapy” she confides.
On her recent single, the album’s title track ‘Lucky Me’, Green addresses mental health directly. Challenging the ‘let’s talk’ narrative, she instead favours hedonistic escape as a means of suppressing trauma.
“Every way that I could be self-destructive, I’ve managed in some capacity… But I’ve realised that in being self-destructive it ruins everyone around me”— Phoebe Green
“Every way that I could be self-destructive, I’ve managed in some capacity,” she admits, giving a nod to the song’s mention of liquid lunches. “It definitely comes from past trauma; I have PTSD. A big coping mechanism for me is that I have to find a physical outlet that either numbs everything or takes it out of my head. It’s just way easier to focus on being self-destructive than to hurt other people. But I’ve realised that in being self-destructive it ruins everyone around me.”
These days, her physical outlet is songwriting. On Lucky Me, Green was aided by her longtime friend, the producer/songwriter heavyweight Dave McCracken (Beyoncé, Florence + The Machine). After her 2020 EP left her in an emotional, “uninspired” mental funk, it was McCracken who yanked her out of it to write the album together last year.
“If Dave didn’t have faith in me like that, I don’t think I could have done it,” Green confesses. Tom Fuller and Everything Everything’s Alex Robertshaw then worked on production.
A recent UK tour supporting Self Esteem proved fertile ground for Green, who felt reinvigorated from performing live again. It also afforded her a new confidante.
Given the similarities between her and Self Esteem’s “unique, perspective-based” tunes that also trade in pointed, spoken-word personal and social commentary, it was perhaps little surprise that the pair hit it off. They also share the same management.
“We very much came to realise that we’d literally led the same life,” Green explains. “The last night of the tour, we were talking for hours and hours. We were just telling each other our life stories and crying.
“If Dave [McCracken, producer] didn’t have faith in me like that, I don’t think I could have done it”— Phoebe Green
“I think that’s why a lot of my songs now have a lot of speaking parts because I have so much to say that it’s not going to fit into a melody,” she adds.
So how does she want her new album — undoubtedly her strongest work yet — to make her fans feel?
“I definitely want people to feel like they’re allowed to accept that they find emotions difficult, because I think, a lot of the time, we’re so conditioned to either suppress them or let them out in a very acceptable way,” she replies.
“Feeling things can actually be revolting, it can be the most uncomfortable, distressing thing ever,” she continues. “I hate being like, ‘Oh, people need to accept themselves,’ because I fucking don’t! I’m working towards it but I’m not obsessed with myself at all — unless it’s to tear myself apart.”
“The last night of the tour [with Self Esteem], we were talking for hours and hours. We were just telling each other our life stories and crying”— Phoebe Green
Lucky Me is the start of an exciting fresh chapter for Green, who adds that she’s planning to air the album’s material on a headline tour later this year.
“There are obviously so many things that come with music, as they do with every career, but it’s literally the best thing ever,” she reflects. “It’s the thing that makes me feel the most like myself, so I think I would be an idiot to not want to pursue it for ever.”
Phoebe Green’s new album Lucky Me is out 19 August 2022.
Taken from the June/July 2022 of Rolling Stone UK. Buy it here.