(photo: Andy Strong)

The creativity that blossoms out of San Francisco often feels unparalleled in variety and, in some cases, density. Local resident and singer-songwriter E.G. Phillips is one such creative that wholly embodies that varied creativity. Not only in his own output, but also by going out of his way to include fellow artists to join him, be it at an open mic, on his record, or at unique birthday celebrations.

In early 2019, Phillips released an album called At Home At Sea with the aide and encouragement of producer Ben Osheroff. The impetus for the entire record comes from the grip of one particular song: “The Lighthouse at the Edge of the World.” Osheroff first heard Phillips performing the track during a residency performance at Bazaar Cafe where he was performing with Osheroff’s now-fiancee, Louise Nalbandian. The song must have resonated, because months later Osheroff offered to record it when he and Phillips met again by chance.

“By that point I’d begun to see the piece as part of a larger whole,” Phillips said. “So first Ben and I recorded a sort a pilot project together to establish a working relationship. Then in quick succession, by hook or by crook, we did the full album, largely in his home studio (a basement apartment in the Richmond district, not unlike where I recorded my first album), before he headed off for an extended sojourn with Louise to South America.”

A recurring theme in love songs often depicts one person willing to go to the ends of the earth for another. “This country-ish Jules Verne-esque ballad goes beyond mere talk, and explores what such a place would be like and what being there would entail,” Phillips explained. “Inspired by an old Dr. Who comic, it’s a special song for me as its the first to have been recorded by another artist, Shawn Byron, and will feature on his debut album as well.”

The track, and album as a whole, features Phillips on vocals along with backing vocalists Louise and Samantha Sipin, upright bassist Sean Silverman, drummer Ben Visini and Shawn Tamborini provides the steel guitar. “The lighthouse sample at the beginning is one of San Francisco’s own,” said Phillips, without revealing which. The video was animated by Bay Area artist Jesse Israel.

For “Lighthouse at the Edge of the World,” Israel drew inspiration from the vibrant oceanic and astral imagery of the lyrics. Beginning with the natural, NorCal environment of San Francisco’s coastline, the video opens with a series of live action shots that you may recognize as Muir and Baker beaches.

According to Israel herself: “In this video, I aimed to capture the melancholy of E.G.’s song, which tells about pushing a lover away in order to protect them, and utilize his vibrant imagery in order to bring that loneliness into a space of imagination and possibility. To do this, I created a video journey that moves from the “real world”, represented by these live action nature shots (with hints of animated “magic”), to a world of imagination, represented by full animation. The journey spans the course of a day; as the sun sets and the night sky appears, we travel into a world of floating planets, talking sea lions, and a Little-Prince inspired lighthouse keeper, creating an atmosphere of childlike imagination.”

E.G. Phillips’ next local performance is scheduled for this Saturday, September 21 at the Upper Noe Valley Rec Center in San Francisco. Taking place from 10am until noon, Phillips is performing as part of the Concerts in the Park series hosted by the rec center.

E.G. Phillips
Saturday, September 21, 2019
Upper Noe Valley Rec Center Park
10am, FREE