FULGEANCE: SUN AND MUCH LOVE, RIGHT?
Paris-based producer Fulgeance put two songs into All City’s very necessary 7×7 Beatstrumental singles series (alongside Mike Slott, Snowman, Hudson Mohawke and more) and now he is working on defining a bit of instrumental beat-dance-wonky music for himself. His Smartbanging EP sets up the protocols but then his alter-ego, Peter Digital Orchestra, knocks them over, and one day he’s going to do a side project with himself just to really disintegrate the system. This interview by Chris Ziegler.
You preface the 3×7 single ‘Revenge of the Nerd’ with that sample from American Splendor about being a nerd—what does it mean to be a nerd in Paris? How do you think a French nerd compares to an American nerd? And do you think a nerd from one country can come to another and be … cool?
Fulgeance: I think nerds are now the new rich and talented guys. Ask Bill Gates or that kind of important guy if he was famous at school. For sure he was trying to have a girl, and every jerk was laughing at him because he was workin’ on a new ‘geek’ computer project. So to be a nerd in France—because I’m not from Paris, but Caen and Normandy—is more now a fashion thing, because everybody lost this old-school style to be ‘NERD.’ There is some nerds, but now they stay at home—playin’ video games and workin’ on 3-D or new futuristic solutions to electronic equipments. … But I think they are cool now—more at ease with people, and for sure they are connected to all the others. From my side, to be nerd is to have a proper way to work in your passion or job—to not care about what’s happening outside but care more about what’s happening in what you like in music, films, games. … To be an addict, to work your own way—wakin’ up when you want, eating when you want—and to not care about what’s cool and hip. I tried hard from my childhood to now get this life, and I have it now? But I’m cool and love design and fashion too, so I’m not really a nerd—just a semi-nerd!
Who has influenced your music more—Al Pacino or Al Bundy? How?
Fulgeance: More Al Bundy, but just for the joker side—and maybe because he’s so groovy! No?
Samiyam sampled someone’s head getting crushed (from the movie Zombi) on Rap Beats Vol. 1. You have sampled your cat growling—how did you use it?
Fulgeance: I never sampled my cat? Where did you get that? The crazy thing is I always wanted to, but my cat always stop breathing when I bring the mic to his mouth—crazy Minette! The weirdest thing I ever grabbed in a song—it never happened, and that’s cool and not cool—I sampled my girlfriend snoring, but I thought it was not cool for her if I put it in a track! Even if I really wanted to.
What would be your perfect night out in Lithuania? Where would you go? Who would you be with? What would be happening as the sun rose?
Fulgeance: Perfect night in Lithuania—it’s in Vilnius at Satta Bar or Woo Bar to a Mondayjazz party with my girlfriend, Alice, Justas Fresh and Tadas Quazar and the Mondayjazz crew. And at the sunrise we would drink again and again after that cool party, speakin’ about all the good things we want to do and good things we already have in that crazy life!
How did you feel about being included in the All City 7×7 series? How do you feel those records fit into the new hip-hop/electronic/whatever music that is happening now? And how did you fit into those records?
Fulgeance: Olan from All City is a great new ‘talent-digger’—I mean, he get the most inventive artist on this beat series, like Snowman, Mike Slott, Hudson Mohawke, Mweslee, Le N?ko, and so on. And he was first—I think—to do a 7” series, and now everybody do it. So yeah, All City and that beat series represent well how this new hip-hop evolve. Because of that series we know all each other, and movement like this need it. The cool thing is that I decided on this 3×7 to go into different style—one more bumpy like ‘Revenge of the Nerd’ and a really sweet and sad track dedicated to my grandmother called ‘Mamie Thé.’ And for All City, it fit directly with the idea of this series. I appreciate people who are ready to surprise and do not go into what people are waiting for.
You said once that you take risks because you don’t want to make static music—what chances do you think that gives you? Is this connected to what you mean by ‘smartbanging’?
Fulgeance: Smartbanging is near that way to think music, but it’s more to give me pleasure in playing and freestyling on live tracks. To not stay into something you already know, and to try to make a track not too much looped, but more evolving and living tracks that could spell you a story or make you think about something. I like to make bang and dance music, but it has to be sounds I like first and which I can have fun with—tracks don’t have to be always the same from one show to the other one, you know? I think it’s one of the most important things in music—evolve in music, and make it evolve too.
You said Peter Digital Orchestra is your cocky alter-ego—what’s something Peter would say that Fulgeance would NEVER agree with? And have you ever considered doing a collaborative project between your two identities—sort of an Andy Kaufman experiment? What would that be like?
Fulgeance: Peter Digital could say, ‘Yeah, my mayyyne Fulgeance—let’s do a booty track just for the bitches! To make them dance, a pure 1/4 track!!!’ And Fulgeance won’t say yes, even if he likes to make them dance—but he would try to find a combination between dance and a kind of sophisticated music. Peter Digital is my side to make bouncy-funky-booty-electronic tracks, and to make it more direct and seducing. I try to surprise too, with Peter Digital, but I try to put away my envy about breaks, strange and too switched wonky music to preserve the linear kick and snare for the people and make them dance. I think the collab between the two projects will arrive soon, just to joke around—but make the perfect ‘between dance and groovy’ track! It would be LOW-BANGING music? Could be interesting.
You use your MPCs when you play live—how do you rehearse on them at home? How do you bridge the gap between programming a song and performing a song?
Fulgeance: Now I use more a MPD32—as a nerd I have to evolve, you know. And the MPC2000. The MPC brought me an interesting thing in music—the more you have, the less you go to what you really want. I mean softwares now bring so many options that you can get lost, you know? And with the MPC, you have 32 MB RAM inside, so you have to be clever and use the good sample—to select the good one. And I really love this machines and pads in general because you can really play, and show live what you do to the crowd who, I think, want that. And even with controllers like MPD, I try to stay that way of producing. Producing and playing live are connected for me—it has to sound like a real track on records and could be improvised and modify in real time as a live show. So, yes—my way to produce influences the way to playing live, definitely.
Are you still planning on an album? When do you think that might be ready?
Fulgeance: Yeah, I’m workin’ on it, and it will be on my label, Musique Large—owned by Rekick and me. And I dunno yet if it’s gonna be all the tracks from the EPs, and I’m quite sure it won’t be—I think album have to be more concepted and homogenic, so maybe more new tracks—including for sure ‘Chico,’ ‘Low Club Anthem’ and ‘Rubiscube’—and original tracks from this project. And I’m thinking about featurings too, so we’ll see—surprise, surprise! And stay tuned to Musique Large because we’ll sign this new year really interesting and different artists—to stay LARGE.
In almost every interview, you’ve mentioned Q-Tip as one of your all-time influences—why do you think you connected with his work so permanently? What lessons and ideas did he give you about music?
Fulgeance: He learned me to groove with simple elements—one kick plus one hi-hat plus one snare, and a clap sometimes. But most of the tracks I love from him are J Dilla beats and productions—so not just Q-Tip, but more Soulquarians, Roots and all this connected crew. About Q-Tip, his flow is for me the most magical for me. He can move on beats like a snake, singing like a soul sista, never doin’ it too much, and yes, he’s fuckin’ groovy. My fav track from him is ‘Go Hard,’ produced by Jay Dee: minimal beat, simple arpeggiator, sampled from Mandre track, and pitch down like a 45 in 33rpm and kick bass modulating on chords, and just one ‘huh’ sample from a sexy girl—because you really hear she’s sexy from this ‘huh.’ How could it be so simple? And Kamaal rappin’ on it, just doin’ what he wants with lyrics … hmmm, nice. Go hard!
You know Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats—what are your personal jazz-funk greats? Why? What double album have you most listened to all the way through?
Fulgeance: I don’t really know well all this Throbbing Gristle’s stuff, but one of my favorite jazz-funk musician could be—and there is so many—Quincy Jones, for his excellent career in producing so different projects, and always bring to the best all the talented musicians like George Duke, Don Blackman, Ramsey Lewis, Stanley Clarke, Michael Jackson and so on. My favorite album could be this—I Heard That!! from Quincy Jones, but Herbie Hancock is one of my influence and most-listened artist, so not so easy to choose just one. And as I feel a little shame-y to not know better the Throbbing Gristle’s productions—I will go hard on this to fill that empty place in my mind. For sure.
What is it like to play bass in a French funk band—where do you play and who comes to see you? And what is the most famous French funk band there ever was that everyone loves and looks up to?
Fulgeance: I was young and not into so famous bands—just tryin’ to make a funk influenced by Tortoise post-rock and jazz funk at the same time. So into my little hometown, I think nobody even understand what style it was, but they liked it. And if you want an important person who saw us, huh, maybe the mayor? And about the most famous French band … it’s not so easy, as French did more disco than real funk, but I would say GONG—most of them were French I think. Not always funky, but check Expresso II—pure jazz-funk psych album!
I know you are included in the Beats & Faces project, where people like Dam Funk, Dimlite, Matthewdavid and more are all illustrated together—what do you think connects everyone else in this project? Not that there is a way to musically define everyone—but why do you think all these musicians from across the world are making connection with each other?
Fulgeance: To make it clear, me and my girlfriend who draw and design all the Beats & Faces project are Beats & Faces. We created it to grow up all this movement, and to make a kind of exhibition around which will connect all this producers and I hope will give them more feedback and interest from people who love Alice Dufay’s design and this kind of music. First exhibition will be in Kanazawa in Japan—first event of my Low Club tour in Japan, and then Low Club tour in U.S.A. And this connections are true—we all try to give back to musicians we like because music is for me and I think, for this new generation, more passion and friendship than business. More people will definitely get interested to it, because it’s design and music—beats and faces!—so I think real objects, like vinyls, records, goodies, T-shirts, posters and stickers are now so connected to music, arts, street life and fashion. I think it’s a good thing that art and music stick together into that years of digital and ‘no soul’ virtual things we buy and delete.
You said you are hyperactive—how do you made yourself go to sleep at night? And how do you make yourself wake up in the morning?
Fulgeance: It’s really simple: when I go to bed, I just can’t stop thinkin’ about what I have to do, and by the way I can’t sleep. And when I wake up, I don’t want to because I know all the things I have to do. But I dunno why I love it! But don’t worry, I can sleep after one hour, depending of the cool or bad day I spend!
You have the song ‘Ann Arbor’—if you make a song called ‘Los Angeles,’ what would it sound like? And who would you want to remix it?
Fulgeance: ‘Ann Arbor’ is a dedicated track to people like Charles Trees, Shigeto, Kadence MC and all the cool crew I met in Ann Arbor, Michigan, so I dunno what a track could be if the title was ‘Los Angeles.’ Maybe a sunny and lovely one? That’s what you have in L.A.? Sun and much love, right? But if you see a track from me called ‘Los Angeles,’ that means that I spend a really awesome time there, and I’m sure I will. Get set for the LOW CLUB experience!
FULGEANCE WITH DERU AND ROB SWIFT PLUS DADDY KEV, NOBODY, THE GASLAMP KILLER, NOCANDO AND D-STYLES ON WED., FEB. 24, AT LOW END THEORY, 2419 N. BROADWAY, LOS ANGELES. 10 PM / $5-$10 / 18+. LOWENDTHEORYCLUB.COM. AND WITH KUTMAH AND TOKIMONSTA ON THUR., FEB. 25, AT THE CROSBY, 400 N. BROADWAY, SANTA ANA. 10 PM / FREE / 21+. THISISTHECROSBY.COM. FULGEANCE’S SMARTBANGING EP IS OUT NOW ON ONE-HANDED. VISIT FULGEANCE AT MYSPACE.COM/FULGEANCE.