Space Tours: The Legacy of Phoenix is the extraordinary new concept album from Mitch Wellings. Based on the fictional backstory that his label Space Tours is the worlds first intergalactic travel agent, the album positions itself as a company propaganda piece, telling the transformational journey of one passenger on the first ever Space Tours flight.
From boring 9-5 IT guy with no purpose to being completely reawakened with an entirely new outlook on life due to his experiences in Space, the story of Phoenix is told using a choice selection of voice actors from around the world, supporting Welling’s singular musical vision.
The album landed on June 2nd on his own Space Tours imprint, we had a Little Talk with Mitch to get the lowdown on its genesis.
WWD: Welcome to When We Dip! Thanks for talking to us – how’s 2023 treating you so far?
It’s been great thank you. Life’s good. Currently I’m sitting on a beach for the first time in a very long time, recovering and reflecting with gratitude following a lovely experience playing at Nest Microfest in Barcelona.
WWD: What are your earliest memories of music?
Dancing in the living room with my mum around 3 or 4 years old, to things ranging from Simply Red to The Fugees
WWD: What were the first records you can remember being into, the ones that really made an impression on you?
Concept albums like The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill and College Dropout by Kanye West. I listened to these so much. Especially College Dropout, that blew my high school mind. I actually wanted to make beats like Kanye for a long time after that haha.
Booka Shade – In White Rooms also absolutely captivated me in my late teens. I could relate my life to it so much at the time, which I guess is unusual for an instrumental track.
WWD: How would you describe your music style, and who are some of the artists that you draw inspiration from?
I like to combine genres. I take my favourite elements of a few different styles and repurpose them to create new takes on sounds/sub genres. I don’t really use reference tracks as such, every time I sit down to create I just make what I feel like. This means it can go in any direction.
I guess on a subconscious level you’re always taking influence from your musical listening history. In this context, inspiration has come from a huge range of sources as I’m very open in my listening habits and believe there to be good music to be found in every genre. A range of examples would be: Robag Wruhme, Philip Glass, Columba Carina, Michael Jackson and many many more, from all walks of life.
WWD: What influence do you think these artists have had on your new album?
Robag Wruhme for his wild, often cinematic sound design. Some of my tracks have minimal classical influence. I’m a big fan of Philip Glass and his ability to create emotive moments, often through subtle changes. Columba Carina is just one example of some of the golden era deep house sounds I’m into.
My first ever CD single, bought for me twice by both my mum and dad separately on the same Christmas, was Michael Jackson. His sounds are probably responsible for adding some funk into what I do from the early years.
WWD: Can you give us a brief overview of your label Space Tours, and how it’s led you to this point of releasing an album…
So far each release has been a four or five-track EP from myself, with one track being remixed by a different artist each time. These remixes have come from some great producers: Harry Wills, Nemo Vachez, Youandewan and Jhobei, in that order.
This is the first album, which will take the label up to 33 tracks in total. I think I’ve always had a love for musical storytelling and this kind of just flowed out, seeming to come together really naturally.
I’m also really open to providing a platform for other artists but haven’t actually signed anything that’s been sent my way yet. Hoping that will change soon.
WWD: The Legacy of Phoenix tells the fictional story of a space explorer – why was this a story you wanted to tell?
It’s actually a story about rebirth/awakening/change. The space exploration side is just the vehicle which it is told, as that suits my musical style the best.
The lead character, Phoenix, undergoes some profound changes in his perspectives on life as a product of his experience in space. He’s reborn, as per his mythical namesake. There are many parallels to be taken from it that can hopefully relate to different people in different ways.
WWD: This is a tough question for artists, but we’re genuinely interested – how would you describe the sound of your new album?
Genre-wise, there’s deep house, garage, breaks, electro, ambient, minimal, IDM, spoken word and more, so it’s a tricky one to pigeonhole. Adjective wise, I’d say: deep, spacey, floaty, trippy.
WWD: Technically, how did you pull this album together? We imagine it a bit more like being a film director than a traditional electronic producer!
Haha I don’t think I’d have described it as that myself before, but now that you mention it, I guess so. There was literally a flow chart for the story narrative. There were scripts. Hours of sifting through voice actors portfolios. In the end I used 6 different voice actors from around the world.
WWD: Will you be touring the album at some point this year?
I’d love to. I have some cool gigs coming up, but not quite a fixed tour as such just yet. I’m really hoping for this later in the year though. I’ve also started doing Space Tours parties, which I have coming up in Staffordshire, Manchester and Barcelona.
WWD: When you’re not working on your music, how do you like to spend your time?
In nature mostly. I’m very lucky that I live walking distance from two nature reserves and a short drive from places like the Peak District. Where I live doesn’t have much of a club scene, but it makes up for it in terms of beautiful nature spots, which keeps me productive and healthy.
WWD: What else do you have coming up in 2023 that we should be looking out for?
A few more vinyl releases. One is for Locked In (Amsterdam), another for Planet Orange (Leeds) and something for a London label. Possibly a Space Tours EP also.
Podcast-wise, I’ve just put out a self-release on my own SoundCloud called ‘Space Tourism’, as a bit of a stamp on my sounds at the moment. I also have a downtempo one coming very soon for Dimsum Records for summer. This is going to be followed by one for Subwax too.
I’ve already mentioned Space Tours events, but I’m hoping to bring these to a few new places so I’m really looking forward to seeing where that takes me and open to collaborating.
Thanks so much for all of your questions, it’s been a fun chat and they really got me thinking. Special thanks to all the readers who made it this far and I hope you manage to connect with the album in some way 🙂