Phoebe Green


There are few periods in life where we change so dramatically as through the first half of our twenties. At the beginning, we’re only recently out of childhood; young, inexperienced, relatively unformed. By the middle of the decade, however, chances are a whole lot of adult life experience will have elbowed its way in, whether we like it or not.

It’s a transitional period that Manchester’s Phoebe Green has been acutely aware of, and one that she’s had to negotiate not only in private but in relation to the increasing attention that her brand of highly self-aware, raw pop has gained over that time. From 2020’s breakthrough single ‘Reinvent’ to her critically-acclaimed 2022 debut ‘Lucky Me’, the tangerine-haired singer’s style was one built on a complete cards-on-the-table approach to her own insecurities and anxieties. But now, aged 26, she’s starting to realise that maybe she can keep some things for herself.

“Because I started quite young and I had a fanbase quite quickly, I always felt like I owed everyone access to my emotions,” she begins. “I was super guarded but also completely unboundaried; if I was more certain of who I was, maybe I wouldn’t have been so quick to overshare. Whereas now, I’m in such a completely different place to where I was when I released the album. The things I’m writing about are so meaningful to me, so everyone else’s interpretations aren’t as integral to the life of the song.”

The different place that Phoebe speaks of is one both literal and figurative. Having parted ways with former label Chess Club records by mutual understanding, she’s now embracing the freedom that comes from guiding yourself and has found an invigorating new foil in producer Steph Marziano (Hayley Williams, Bartees Strange and Picture Parlour). “When I started writing with Steph, it was such a different environment and it just felt so easy,” she says. “I just felt really understood and that really helped me to actually say what I wanted to say, and not feel like I had to censor it or overcomplicate it or make it easier to digest.”

Though her career to date has seen Phoebe clock up some objectively exciting milestones – more than 20 million Spotify streams and counting; tours alongside Self Esteem and Everything Everything; support from the likes of NME, DIY, Rolling Stone and more – there’s a newfound confidence to the way that Phoebe speaks about her music and herself that comes from something outside of those career successes. Last year’s irreverent standalone single ‘I Can’t Ride A Bike’ acted as a turning point; scoring Phoebe a viral TikTok moment with more than 1.4 million views to date, it proved to the singer that she could be fun and simple and lighthearted and still be understood. “People get that it’s not actually about riding a bike; people aren’t stupid,” she laughs. “But it was reassuring that I don’t always have to explain myself completely.” And it’s this attitude that she’s taking through into her next body of work: 2024’s forthcoming ‘Ask Me Now’ EP.

A clear indication of Phoebe’s newfound self-confidence, it’s a title that invites answers – ones that the singer finally feels ready to give. And if the most obvious question to ask is, what exactly does Phoebe Green sound like right now? Then the answer to that can be found across four tracks that embrace all sides of her style, from the poignant to the playful. For the first time ever, she’s written a ballad in the form of closing track ‘I Could Love You’. Elsewhere, there are high energy emotional bangers and ‘I Think That I’m Getting Boring’: a Robyn-like, synth-heavy ode to growing up and kinda being OK with that process. Throughout, though Phoebe is an unashamed devotee of “sad pop music”, there’s a whole breadth of ideas even in just 14 collective minutes.

“I think when you’re younger, you think the people you look up to are the coolest so if you take inspiration from them then you’ll be cool. But if you just imitate that, it’s not gonna do the same thing!” she says. “Especially for this EP, I intentionally didn’t take direct influence from anyone. I really wanted the songs to sound like me growing into myself. Even since ‘Lucky Me’, I’ve grown so much and become so much more solid as a person.”

Lead single ‘Embarrass Me’ is a full throttle introduction to this new era. “It’s about mourning a dynamic before it’s fully over. When you know it’s humiliating but you don’t value yourself enough to make it stop,” says Phoebe. Yet whilst the hyper-evocative song paints a picture of a date night gone horribly wrong (“We’re exposed and we’re in the spotlight / Too drunk to remember our lines”), there’s a high bpm rush that builds around it. “I think it needed to have a lot of energy because there’s a lot of adrenaline in there,” she notes.

On the flipside, meanwhile, the snarling ‘Relevant’ is a dead-eyed commentary on the “sex sells” mentality that the singer has never felt comfortable being part of. “You want an adolescent but I’m halfway to 50 / I could wear a dress so that you’d wanna be with me,” she sneers on its opening lines. “It’s not something that suits me, but I also didn’t want to make it heavy emotionally because it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m gonna do what I want,” she shrugs. “That was the one song where I did let the influences come in. I wanted it to sound St Vincent-y, cos she’s the sexiest person ever.”

Then there’s ‘I Think I’m Getting Boring’, which switches the script again, finding bliss in a more sedate way of life and embracing the possibility of contentment via pop euphoria, while the aforementioned ‘I Could Love You’ sees out the release with a sweet, wide-eyed ode to Phoebe’s girlfriend. “I was so resistant to doing a ballad because I’m a fun pop girly now! And then I decided we had to wait for a rainy day so I could get into it,” she laughs. “I’ve always found it really difficult to write optimistically and sincerely because it always cringed me out, whereas now I’m a bit older and I just think, why is it embarrassing to be optimistic about something? I’m not an angsty 19-year-old anymore and it’s OK to actually feel good about something!”

It’s a perfect sentiment for ‘Ask Me Now’ to finish on; one that shows how far its author has come personally and emotionally, whilst also reassuring her fans that her knack for creating highly relatable, emotive, golden pop nuggets is safe and intact. In some ways, then, the next stage of Phoebe Green is one that’s more honest than ever – a window into an ever-evolving person mirroring that in her ever-evolving art. As she puts it herself: “I’m still trying to figure myself out, but isn’t everyone forever?”