Soul Over Ego: Meet The Millennial Beatmaker and Street Artist Who Is Leading The New Feminist Electronic Music Revolution in Los Angeles

Callie Ryan, also known as Phat_Thighz, is an LA-based producer/beatmaker, intern for Dublab, and cofounder of a music and art collective known as Phull Gut Productions. This past year, she graduated from UC Santa Cruz, where discovered her deep love for sound synthesis––both analog and digital––while studying visual art and electronic music. Growing up in LA, Callie developed an abiding connection with the music emerging from the Los Angeles beat scene. According to the 22-year-old music producer, her desire to buy her first SP404 and immerse herself in the world of beat making was catalyzed by artists such as Teebs, Dibiase, Flying Lotus, SAMIYAM, Odd Nosdom, and Ras G. 

The name Phat_Thighz originated from Callie’s tag name for street graffiti. Phat_Thighz’ tags could be seen on the inside of men and women’s bathroom stall doors, in the form of large scale images of naked, amorphic, female figures. Above these figures floated illustrative banners containing phrases such as “your phat is beautiful” or “tender.” These 3-5 foot tall tags had the intention of confronting the viewers with both the beauty and weight of one’s “own fleshy structure,” as well as identifying the body as a vessel holding all of one’s creative forces. Callie believes that without an appreciation and acknowledgment of one’s internal systems, such as the digestive system (which has a known link to one’s emotional patterns), one can never be fully at peace with one’s external image. Her art represents the acceptance of physical and emotional vulnerability, a theme that is widely present in her newest musical release, EP1

EP1 documents the past year and a half of her life, including moments of both extreme empowerment as well as vulnerability. In discussing EP1, Callie descriptively expounds upon the sonic approach she took in order to reflect these thematic intentions:  “I wanted to find a way to create a sonic landscape that would reflect both two important states of being: empowered and vulnerable. Sonically for this album, I became fascinated with the idea of creating tracks that borrowed rhythmic foundations that people are familiar with, such as Trap and Hip Hop, and then contrasting them with heavy lyrical content and aggressive noises, samples, and experimental vocal loops.

As an electronic musician, it is very important to me that the sounds and samples I use have a physicality to them. I aim to sample or create sounds which feel guttural, heavy, crunchy; I want them to be able to occupy their own physical space. I find a good amount of my samples searching through archives of public service announcements from the 1950s.  I recently found a PSA from the 50s that was pretty disturbing. A man’s voice doused in vinyl distortion, spoke confidently, and explained that the job of a woman in the home is very hard. They work endlessly to keep the house clean for their families, and as a result, they don’t need to leave the house to be a part of the work force. Following this narration, the man’s voice spits a line saying, ‘women’s work is not for sissies’, and then, I am elated because a phrase like that is sampling gold. As an artist, I have the ability to take that phrase and re-appropriate it so that it becomes something empowering instead of sexist and vomit-inducing.”

The political foundation that drove Phat_Thighz’s vision for EP1 was built off of a desire to explore the myriad societal forces, which inhibit a woman’s ability to communicate honestly. We have been raised in a society where women are conditioned to avoid making others uncomfortable with their physical state, honest feelings, and general desires. Using both her lyrical content and choice of aggressive noise, Callie aims to challenge this societal restraint/reality which has been deeply ingrained in the consciousness of men and women alike. 

Callie’s newest endeavor is working with Kat Lee to lay down the beginning groundwork for their music and art collective, Phull Gut Productions. Kat and Callie’s intentions for Phull Gut is to organize events within Los Angeles that help to create a community of visual artists and musicians who support one another, challenge one another, and most importantly, believe in the Phull Gut Productions mantra, “Soul over Ego.”

Click here to listen to Phat_Thighz's EP1. You can follow Phat_Thighz  on Instagram here. text by Lucia Ribisi. Follow Autre on Instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE