Artist name: Phene, aka Zach Richards

Where'd the name Phene come from? I came up with the name Phene pretty much because I can't leave music alone. I've got an addiction to music.

How would you describe your sound? My sound is a mix between conscious, underground and commercial rap.

When did your musical career begin? I probably wrote my first song back in '99 or so. I really didn't get serious about it 'til 2004. I had something good going and had so much room to improve. I saw an opportunity with it. 2005 was a really good year. I got about a 1,000 CDs out locally and built up a good following on the Internet. In 2006, I'm trying to build that up to the next level.

Who are your influences? Definitely Nas and Jay-Z, as far as music goes. I keep an open mind to all kinds of music. I never want to keep it one-dimensional. Life in general (is an influence).

If you could share the stage with any artist, who would it be and why? I would say Nas again. He has such an incredible career and understands hip-hop so well. You can watch him go through stages in life. It'd be crazy energy.

What's the best part of performing live? The chance to directly speak to listeners. With a song, they just hear the words, there's no visual with it. In a performance, they get the song and see that it's really something that means a lot to me personally.

What do you do to get an audience pumped during a show? A lot of rap glorifies materialism and stuff that doesn't help anyone. I like to speak on something real that people can relate to. Just the energy talking about something and wanting to make a change and open people's eyes - if someone's on the same page, it's crazy.

Career highlight? I opened for Cassidy at Swizzles (in York). That was definitely a big step. My own independent highlights are releasing my own CDs and receiving feedback, and it's been nothing but positive feedback.

What do you need to work on as an artist? I'm just pretty much continuing to push my music out to the masses, promoting and expanding my audience.

What are your thoughts on the rap and hip-hop scene in York? There's definitely talent, but the promotion is not there. It's one thing creating a song or CD, but now you have to get it in people's hands and make things happen. No one here has done it yet. Once someone does it, it'll break down the flood gates. Right now when you say "York," people are like "New York"?


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