Former music student, producer climbs music ranks

Philip Towns, former student of UNA, playing piano in one of the practice rooms on campus. He has made songs with The Voice season 7 contestent and UNA student Jordy Searcy.

by Life Editor Mari Williams

While some artists are plagued with fear of the notorious “starving artist” label, local musician and producer Philip Towns is getting his fill in the music world. Better known to his friends as the “mad scientist,” Towns is gearing up to take the music production industry by storm.

Towns’ love for music bloomed within the church.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I really learned about improvisation and being able to play anything at any moment. I grew up playing gospel music because it has a lot of different influences.”

Towns said UNA’s unique entertainment program brought him to the Shoals.

“The biggest thing I got from UNA was meeting all my friends and big music people I have now,” he said. “It’s not easy trying to be in the industry and figure out how you’re going to make it. My best friends today are a product of coming to UNA. We all live together. We all write music together.”

Along with many other local musicians, Towns works closely with UNA student and drummer Kyle Jefferson, also known as J. Forgiven.

“It’s always great working with Philip — we just click,” Jefferson said. “He has great ideas and always does a great job helping me capture and go beyond any vision I have for a song.”

Towns recently started a production company, “no box.”

“The idea is not putting boxes on creativity and being free to create the music you want to create,” he said.

Producers put more work into an artist’s album than people may think, Towns said.

“I would compare it to being a director for a movie,” he said. “You’re a visionary, basically. When an artist is in the vocal booth, I’m giving them direction of the tiniest detail.

“When it goes to mixing, we have to take all of the tracks we’ve recorded and make them fit together. It’s basically being involved and overseeing the process and making sure it’s what the artist wants.”

Towns said he knew he wanted to be a producer since age 13 and began studying albums in his bedroom.

“When I was pretty young I got obsessed with listening to albums,” he said. “First it was trying to figure out what the keyboardist on that album was doing. Then it was like ‘That’s a cool guitar or drum part. How did they do that? How did they make this sound like this? What’s that thing swirling around in my head in the background?’”

Towns decided to disenroll from UNA to pursue more promising music opportunities.

“I plan on moving to Nashville in August with all my buddies,” he said. “It’s just a big career move. There’s a lot more happening in Nashville.

“The country and pop markets are there, and a lot more people are moving from Los Angeles and New York to Nashville. It’s the place to be if you want to get work. It’s kind of just this unspoken rule that if you’re not in Nashville people don’t really give you work.”

Along with the move, Towns is working on releasing his own EP.

“I’m hesitant to say that it’s rap but it kind of just comes out like that,” he said. “If there wasn’t music it would just be poetry. I don’t want people to think I’m 2 Chainz or something because it’s very much thoughtful and pensive.”

Jefferson said Towns’ future looks bright.

“Philip is a solid guy with a passion for music,” he said. “It won’t be long before he is working with the leaders of the music industry.”