The Phasing Octopus can’t be defeated. The Birmingham creative -born Derrick Moton - is putting out new music, gaming streams, art displays, and music videos that only add to his legend. Recent releases including “555 jam 001”, “shuddup”, “a long night”, “aint gon lie”, and more highlight The Phasing Octopus’ unique approach of blending deconstruction and mesmerizing additions. He also recently released a music video for the song “Stressin’”, which was directed by K1NG ELJAY. The artist has no plans to slow down, as he is consistently putting out 4-song EPs each month to support the Carrion Comfort Studios Patreon, and is releasing one song on Bandcamp each month to compile with unreleased tracks on a record to stream on all platforms at the end of the year. 

Creating has been a part of The Phasing Octopus’s life. “As a kid, I was always in the band and in plays. My grandparents forced me to be in everything at church,” the artist explains, “I felt like I was always around creative stuff then after a while I just stopped. For some reason, music just always popped back up in my face.” He played around with FL Studios some in high school, but was able to become more acquainted when a friend at Alabama State had the program on their laptop. 

By the time he returned to Birmingham, Moton had caught the rapping bug. He connected with Thoven Bey and YouGene Write who lived around the corner and eventually formed a rap group called Ala-M.O.E. with Thoven and Rob Shaw. He soon joined Rob and a guy on the East side of town to form another musical venture, and formed D/A masheen with fellow wordsmith Anquon. During this time The Phasing Octopus was also working on his drawing and gaming paths as well, and eventually took a break in playing music to focus on these other endeavors. The Birmingham Fighting Game community was an uplifting network during this time and beyond.

“I was always in front of people doing things,” Moton reflects - but he was still quietly making music for himself. It took a former girlfriend’s sentiments to push the creative to return to music on a public level. “You have all this music and you’re not doing anything with it,” she told him - then asked, “What are you doing?” The question sparked a process that would lead to a new exciting phase of his creative journey. The era of The Phasing Octopus. In the earlier stages of his music career, Moton - who went by various stage names including DJ, Derrick Deangelo, and Phoenix - would play beats himself then rap over them during his live sets. This new stage of audio ambitions began with a new approach to creating and live performance.

“I was trying to figure out how to make it more fun and started looking more into artists like Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, and stuff like that. They had more instruments with them so they could do more live interpretations of the song,” The Phasing Octopus explains, “I wanted it to become more performative versus just me rapping over a beat. That kind of goes into how I paint now and everything. How I produce - it becomes more of a jam session and every idea is viable. You may even make a mistake but if you know what you’re doing you can take that mistake and flesh it out into a whole thing. That goes across the board for me. Even when I’m on Twitch. A lot of people try to make things perfect, but I feel the beauty is the imperfections and the raw nature of it.”

Just as he did with his initial musical ventures, Derrick has placed a focus on collaboration over the last 5 years of The Phasing Octopus. “You never really know what somebody’s got for you,” the artist states, “They could teach you, introduce you to somebody, or you do the same thing for them. The smaller your web the less flies you catch right?” Fellow creatives like K1NG ELJAY, Kilgore Doubt, Akil Pratt, Black Plastique, Annise Courtney, and more are just a few of the imaginative minds that interact to build beautiful works of art with The Phasing Octopus. The musician also remembers looking up to musicians like DuJour (formerly R-Tist) of The Green Seed, and being surprised to hear they are fans of his work as well. 

The mentality of The Phasing Octopus can be seen in his streaming, music, art, and every other imprint he leaves on the city. Always pushing creative barriers and creating new realities. “I expand what can be seen as local. I take everything and break it apart, make it my own. It’s not just the boom-bap. It’s not just trap. It’s not just R&B, it’s not the blues. It’s not Southern jam band shit,” the artist shares, “Ain’t no limits. Do whatever the fuck you want to do. Ain’t no rules. The rules are made by people who think they know something and they really don’t. They just try to make it more comfortable for them. You can always carve your own lane. I’ve done it my entire life.”

While he’s been creating his own path, The Phasing Octopus recognizes the community support that continues to uplift him. “The Phasing Octopus wouldn’t be a thing without the support that I’ve gotten,” he reflects, “From people coming to shows, people buying albums, people buying some of the merch - hell, people putting me on shows. People giving the opportunity to do this daily in front of people.”

Here’s to more opportunities that continue to expand what it means to be a Birmingham musician! 

Cover image from Tia’Dra Tucker with Six20 Media