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WRITTEN BY DAN CARTERDan Carter is a British journalist and professional writer to the Dance music industry.
Some artists force their standing modern music. Others simply make it. At just 20-years-old, Vermont’s aspiring club connection Pierce Fulton can safely say he did it his way. In a weird and wonderful spree of passionate club compositions, the American producer has fulfilled every college kids wildest dreams, only to return to the classroom to see out the reality that is his education inbetween the industry landmarks. But as Dan Carter discovered in a lengthy chat with the everyday kid who has taunted the works of Usher and Chuckie alike, dreams attained outside of the box are not always found on the steadiest of slopes.
‘A lot of producers have been paying far too much attention to what’s going on right now. That can be smart because you don’t feed broccoli to a giant when he wants a steak, but feeding the beast with the same stuff will ultimately hurt you.’ This is the quirky philosophy that Pierce, a musician for the majority of his life and the product of a family who swore by aural treasures from across the spectrum, has adapted amid his scattered stateside onslaught. Accompanied by enthusiastic brother turned manager Griff, their journey has seen them test the waters of the hysteric state of modern Dance music to translate Pierce’s genuine sense of compositional integrity into music for the masses without the overfamiliarity. ‘Ever since we decided to take a stab at this electronic world, we’ve kind of just done our own thing,’ he explains. ‘I would release either free tracks or sign to a small label and we never really bothered anyone, the rest of the progression involved other people contacting us. I really enjoy that though, you know you’ve been on the right track when others take an interest–it’s much better than having to beg people for certain things.’
From his very entry, Pierce has not been an advocate of extending the already established hallmarks of Dance music both past and present, but elevating them from his own creative guise. ‘I came in with the attitude of a musician, not a club-goer. I find it very unappealing to create a repetitive one-note bass line over a kick drum just to make a crowd jump, that’s not what I started producing for. I guess in these next few months or years, my biggest goal will be finding a perfect balance of structure and melody with a club-like drive.’
As awkward as his approach may first appear, nothing can be taken for granted with Pierce. While some assumed that the Pardon My French EP and explosive follow-up outing ‘Who Wants Spaghetti’ for Cr2 Records would boast the extent of Pierce’s musical journey, his turn to the realms of down-tempo electronica in 2012 both shocked and stunned his steadily growing fan base. For the young producer, this was merely a test of how open the waters of change would be to his daring studio dexterity. ‘When you hit a crowd with a crazy new idea, it’s smarter to let them test it as a free sample first. If they like it, good, if they don’t – it was free – no harm done. I had to release those because what people don’t really know is that I’ve been making that style for quite a while, but found it unnecessary to show the world. Finally, it was time to show my fans that I am a musician and I don’t just settle with what’s popular right now to get by.’
Reassuringly, the desperate sense of belonging that has ornamented modern club music is yet to penetrate Pierce’s unconventional studio output. Never one to swat on someone elses hard graft, fashion is a stimuli that Pierce approaches with a pinch of salt. ‘I’ve never let any trends or styles guide me in my production – there is always this desire to just do my own thing. I don’t feel the need to make a very popular style track in order to gain support from bigger names, I take much more pride in working away at something I can call my own.’
But claiming ownership amid a national phenomenon is tiresome work, even with youth on your side. For all his industrious leaps, Pierce still walks on eggshells when approaching the stateside buzz that has given rise to his own astounding upheaval. ‘A lot more places in the US have become a bit more educated and more open to unknown music, but there are situations that end up becoming quite awkward due to miscommunication. A lot of the time you feel like they just wanted a DJ Mag Top 40 artist. There is definitely a lack of “homework” going on in the industry.’
But is that initial evolution maintainable amid the modern explosion? This is a question to which Pierce’s answer echoes the fear of fatigue that already pervades American club culture. ‘Sadly, I’m starting to see this happen already, but I’m hoping that some of these artists get a nice nip in the butt and start working towards something new and fresh,’ he suggests. ‘I think evolution and progression will help keep this industry alive. If artists keep putting out the same styles and sounds, people are naturally going to get very bored, very fast.’
But Pierce readily accepts the challenge of evolving with modern times. His latest endeavor – the aptly titled ‘Get Weird’ radio show for Tiesto’s Club Life radio show on SIrus XM, feeds off that unorthodox sensibility that has carried his regular promo mixes to the masses. As an artist of extensive quality and reasonably rationed quantity, this ability to fill the silence between releases is music to the ears for artist and following alike. He explains: ‘For me, the radio show is an absolute necessity. If I were to release a track that I wasn’t 100% thrilled about, it would drive me crazy for months, so the process is a little lengthier than other producers. With ‘Get Weird’, I can fill that dead time with something that people can listen to and enjoy. I think in order to truly succeed in this industry, that strong multi-platform presence is essential.’
In spite of his refreshing and levelheaded approach to the notoriously cutthroat industry, Fulton has not been immune to its tendency to backstab within his impending explosion. ‘I wish someone could have made me not care about negativity,’ admits Pierce, pausing his otherwise positive train of thought momentarily. ‘Hate comments and just general nastiness is one of the hardest things on an artist. I know a lot of artists try to brush it off like they don’t care with that “haters gonna hate” bullshit but it does damage on every artist.’
This hasn’t stopped Pierce’s all-embracing ambition. Penning official remix duties for Usher’s ‘Scream’ for the later parts of the summer, the young producer was immediately aware of the attention, both positive and negative, that such high profile remixes would attain. ‘When I got the offer for an Usher remix, all I could think about was how much people were going to think I “sold out” or whatever bullshit they’re saying lately,’ he laughs. ‘I love to surprise people with these kind of projects so that’s exactly what I tried to accomplish. I didn’t want to go too far down the weird spectrum, but at the same time not too far up the mainstream one; something that would surprise my own fans and Usher fans alike.’
There may be a few more notches before Pierce makes the history books, but given the positive tension already surrounding his widespread talents, the road ahead beckons a consistent upwards spiral from this humble kid with a taste for change in sound. ‘I’d love to be the guy that was remembered for being weird and taking his own route,’ he explains. ‘I’ve always looked at the future in one way: played out day by day in whatever random fashion it takes me. I’d rather not set goals I can’t achieve.’
Some will call him a visionary, others a kid of meticulous luck. But while his accession remains invariably premature, Pierce Fulton looks set to prove that everyday kids can make for taste making status. While the boxes may be plentiful and closely situated in modern Dance music, Pierce has no motivation to play directly into them just yet.