The music industry can be hostile for budding musicians who’d rather focus on honing their creativity and expanding their artistic vision versus doing what’s best for business. 23-year-old DJ/producer Pierce Fulton from Vermont knows this struggle all too well. He recently tells BreatheHeavy.com in our exclusive interview he felt pressure from his label to add vocals to his wildly successful song “Kuaga.” The song quickly became an Internet sensation, receiving over 5 millions streams and became one of the most streamed tracks on SiriusXM’s BPM. His unique take on music is fueled by the desire to be unique. His career began with club songs that saw overzealous production using a complex array of sounds, but Fulton is tired of that. Instead, he’s stripping away the many effects and pursuing a sound of his own where dance music meets rock and pop.
BreatheHeavy.com chatted with the blossoming DJ about his recent re-working of “Kuaga (Lost Time),” upcoming projects and how he views himself now as a super star DJ playing the world’s biggest music festivals like Tomorrowland, Electric Zoo and EDC with support from Tiesto, Martin Garrix, and Afrojack.
PF: Pierce Fulton BH: BreatheHeavy
BH: What are you up to?
PF: I’m trying to finish everything I got that’s worth finishing. I’ve had kind of an interesting six months cause I’ve had to refine what I actually want to work on and what I actually want to finish. So [instead of] doing whatever I want and kind of wingin’ it, it’s been more of like a… plan my day… construct some sort of plan around what I do and what I want to work on. I’ve been trying to gear myself in directions that make sense instead of doing whatever I want. It’s kind of frustrating because I don’t like to force myself to do anything, but I sort of have to do it now because I need to use my time wisely while I’m home.
BH: What are the projects you want to pursue but can’t?
PF: Some of my more experimental stuff I can’t pursue. I mean I can, but it’s just not gonna be a huge place for them in my catalogue right now. I think I am going to do some free downloads of the experimental stuff… That makes it more fun so I can go into the studio and make a little more. Lately I’ve been trying to finish every single I have. I have like three done now, and then a few more that are done but I sort of want to change. It’s been kind of frustrating, but also good and healthy for me to finish stuff.
BH: What’s something you can do to alleviate that frustration?
PF: I guess going at it with the mentality that I’m going to make it the best possible song that it can be. Not just what it is. Sometimes, I’ll get sort of lazy and just be like ‘you know what? It’s done.’ But deep down inside I know it could definitely be better, so I will probably let it sit for a few days or weeks and then re-approach it.
BH: Was “Kuaga (Lost Time)” a song you were pressured to redo?
PF: The label hit me up. For awhile they were like ‘let’s do a vocal version.’ And I was like ‘nah, I don’t really want to. The song is fine on its own,’ but the song kept growing and getting bigger and the label was just like ‘We have to do a vocal and if you don’t want to be a part of it then we’re just going to go ahead and do it.’ I’m not going to just let someone else take care of the vocal then have me approve it after so I kind of took it in my own hands and worked with these two guys from the UK and a friend of mine from Ireland… it turned out really great. It was one of those things that I wasn’t really into in the beginning, then when I had the final product I was like ‘OK I can work with this, this is an awesome vocal.’
BH: Did you find it difficult to add a vocal to “Kuaga” to extend its shelf life?
PF: I put out “Kuaga” and I thought it was just going to exist for three months then go away. I thought it was going to be a regular old song, but the shelf life has been so much longer than me or my management team could have predicted. After eight months of it still being really really relevant, I was like ‘alright, either this dies or we have to try and take the next step.’ That’s why I put out my song “In Reality,” because we tried the vocal version and it’s doing well, but I do want to show people I have more music going on.”
BH: Tell us about “In Reality.”
PF: I made that because all of my new music doesn’t really sound like any of my old music. Some of it does, but in very different ways. “In Reality” is sort of the filler song that will bridge the gap between “Kuaga” and my new stuff. I made “In Reality” with the mentality of like, ‘what was I thinking when I made Kuaga… make something along the same lines.’
BH: How would you describe your “old” music versus what you make now?
PF: The old stuff is a bit more synthetic and club driven. Moving forward, I still have some clubby stuff, but I’m trying to make more soft songs, not just DJ songs. I don’t mean I’m going off on a bender and making song-writer music. I’m making dance music meets rock, but sort of pop at the same time. I’m simplifying my process and making more pure music versus filled with stuff. Some of my old production would have layers, and layers, and layers of stuff. I realized it’s more artistic to use less and really let the small elements shine through the production. There’s something about having too many sounds that gets claustrophobic.
BH: What do you consider being successful in music means?
PF: It’s about being your own entity and not part of a sub-family. There can be a million producers. As great as it is, I don’t want to be one of a million kids making the same kind of style. I’d rather just be doing my own thing and enjoying it and also others enjoying it. I don’t want to go off on a bender and make music that no one’s going to like. I’ve definitely seen artists that do that that get frustrated. I just want to be making accessible music my listeners will appreciate and not be thrown off by. At the same time, be doing my own thing and have my own sound represent me rather than be represented by a bigger sound.
BH: Any words of advice to leave us with?
Be different. Try different stuff. I do try and see every one of my songs in a different light at some point, or try some technique that’s a little uncomfortable or a little strange to me. 9 out of 10 times you end up getting something really nice. Comfort is great, but being different will always produce something, good or bad, that’s different.