Conjure One is Rhys Fulber from Front Line Assembly, Delerium and many other musical projects that he’s been running over the past many years with his partner Bill Leeb. This is his new solo project, a superb blend of electronics, pop and world music influences. To read our review of his first full lenght album, due for release on Nettwerk America on September 17th, please click here. The album was originally due out on August 27 but the extra time is to allow preparation for the label to release a special limited edition of the self-titled album featuring a bonus disc. This will include exclusive remixes by Hybrid, Max Graham, Ian Van Dahl and Robbie Rivera of various songs off the album, including the next single, "Tears From The Moon," sung by Sinead O’Connor and songs "Redemption" sung by Israeli vocalist Chemda and "Sleep" sung by Marie-Claire D’Ubaldo from Argentina. A 12" vinyl of the remixes will also be created and shipped to record pools and electronic/specialty mix radio, along with the original of "Tears From The Moon" that’s set to impact radio on August 18 at AAA Public, Hot AC and AAA Commercial formats.
The track listing of the bonus CD is as follows:
1. Tears From the Moon (Hybrid’s Twisted On The Terrace)
2. Redemption (Max Graham’s Dead Sea Mix)
3. Sleep (Ian Van Dahl Mix)
4. Tears From The Moon (Robbie Rivera Mix)
This interview has been brought to you in collaboration with MSO Public Relations.
Chain D.L.K.: I am assuming you are sick and tired of being asked questions about Front Line Assembly and Delerium all over again so, as much as I might want to, I won’t… I’ll just start with another standard question: tell us what’s behind the name Conjure One. How did you come up with it and what does it mean to you?
Rhys Fulber: Well for quite a while, I couldn’t come up with a name. The first song I wrote for this record was called Conjure One. I needed something to name the track in the computer and that was the first thing that came to mind. When I was having trouble finding a name, two separate friends suggested Conjure One, even though it was a song title. Well, I changed that song title to "Redemption" and kept Conjure One for the project name.
Chain D.L.K.: Why did you call the album "Conjure One" too? How come you didn’t go for a different name?
Rhys Fulber: I couldn’t find a suitable album title. Also, it seemed appropriate to keep it low key for the first release and let the project develop an identity.
Chain D.L.K.: So this is your first solo project after a long intense musical life made of pioneering bands, collaborations, remixes, productions and so on… How long have you been planning this and why did you feel the urge to create something completely new and alone?
Rhys Fulber: I left Delerium and FLA to concentrate on production, but after a couple years, I really just wanted to make some music for myself, something I wanted to hear.
Chain D.L.K.: In your career as a producer/remixer what do you consider to be your turnkey production, your best album, your most challenging work, your most enjoyable session?
Rhys Fulber: As far as a turning point, it would be Fear Factory "Demanufacture" and Delerium "Karma". Those records really got things going. Most challenging, musically, was Josh Groban. My best and most enjoyable session so far was the Conjure One album, though at the same time it was one of the most stressful.
Chain D.L.K.: In your career as a musician/composer what do you consider, if any, your most important or main project and why?
Rhys Fulber: Conjure One is the main project. It’s also the most personal for me.
Chain D.L.K.: You worked with a lot of cool metal bands such as the terrific Fear Factory or the more recent chart-climbers P.O.D.. How much metal music is there in you and what are your favourite metal bands?
Rhys Fulber: I think I got most of the metal out of my system but there are things here and there I still like. I’m currently producing an album for Paradise Lost, though I’m not sure you could exactly call it "metal", it is very heavy and dark. Other than Paradise Lost’s great new material, I really like System of a Down.
Chain D.L.K.: It’s too bad a great band like Fear Factory broke up. Do you keep in touch with any of the band members? Are you planning anything new together?
Rhys Fulber: Yes I do. Dino has a new project and I’ve contributed to one of the songs.
Chain D.L.K.: How about your new and old favourite electronic/industrial acts? Having actively contributed and pioneered the scene, who were you looking up to before and who do you still like to listen to now?
Rhys Fulber: Well I used to really like SPK, Laibach, Portion Control, Severed Heads and still feel some of their influence. As far as new acts in that genre, I don’t really listen to much of it. I like more chill out stuff like Massive Attack and Doves.
Chain D.L.K.: What was your working experience with Die Krupps like? Can you tell us more about that… How did it go? How did you guys meet? Are you planning any future collaborations with Engler or Dkay.com?
Rhys Fulber: We never really worked with Krupps, other than the remixes which we did on our own and a US tour. Both of which were quite fun. I was approached by Jurgen to work on DKay, but I couldn’t find a place to fit it in.
Chain D.L.K.: About your roots, it is my understanding that your father helped you out a lot, buying you a synth and a drum machine etc… What kind of musician was he and how much did his influence contribute to your musical education? Was his or Dead Kennedy’s and punk’s influence bigger?
Rhys Fulber: My father was a bass player in a local punk band and he also built a studio where those types of bands recorded. When I was about 11 I would just hang around the studio watching all the action. Punk rock basically showed me that music was also a lifestyle.
Chain D.L.K.: As a Canadian and a person who travels a lot how were you affected by the events of Sept 11 and would you care to share your thoughts about that with us? Please feel free to speak your mind freely and remember we don’t work for the American government 😉
Rhys Fulber: I thought it was the beginning of the end of the world. How has it affected me? Extra long airport queues, less major label remixes, massive loss of life and human tragedy…
Chain D.L.K.: What do you think of the dependencies and relationships between your homeland and the nearby Big Brother neighbor… Or are you not interested in any of this at all???
Rhys Fulber: I live in the US now, so I wouldn’t notice.
Chain D.L.K.: Vancouver is a gorgeous city, but how was it musically when you were growing up and how is it now? Did the city in some way contribute to your love for electronic music or was it all because of Shelley?
Rhys Fulber: Vancouver always had a pretty vibrant underground music scene. It was also a place with world class recording studios, so it was always a good place to make records. In the early-mid eighties, there was a small scene of electronic music, like a good import records shop (that was run by the now head of Nettwerk) and some after hours clubs that would play cutting edge electronic stuff like Fad Gadget. Skinny Puppy and later, FLA and Numb were born from this.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you explain why you liked Pete Shelley’s solo album "Homosapien" so much and why you consider it so special?
Rhys Fulber: Because I was a huge Buzzcocks fan and found it interesting that he changed his instrumentation so radically, proving that the most important thing was the songs and not how it was played.
Chain D.L.K.: Are there other albums, from the past or the present day, that you consider equally or more important?
Rhys Fulber: Definitely Dead Can Dance, Spleen and Ideal and Within the Realm albums, Massive Attack, Blue Lines. These were some very important and influential records to me.
Chain D.L.K.: Back to Conjure One… You have been working on this for three years. Did it take so long because you were busy or because you were looking for some special musical formula you couldn’t find it right away?
Rhys Fulber: I was still working, producing and such, so that slowed things down. There was also a tremendous amount of logistics involved in this record. Things like sample clearances and legal issues with the various vocalists took about a year. The album, with the exception of "Tears From the Moon" was completed in August 2001.
Chain D.L.K.: Speaking of sample clearance and the like… What is your opinion about samples and their legal implications of today? Do you think that the rules that apply are anachronistic given the state of modern music and the way samples are used or do you think the royalty schemes adopted are fair and do not represent an obstacle to creativity?
Rhys Fulber: I don’t know. I can’t see how it would be a huge obstacle to creativity unless everything you do is ripped off of other people. That said, I do love sampling and the inspiration samples provide. You just have to be tasteful with it. But you have to have some guidelines otherwise some cheeky bastard would just sample an entire song and call it his or hers.
Chain D.L.K.: Did or do you support any organization such as MACOS (Musicians Against Copyright Of Samples)?
Rhys Fulber: I didn’t know one existed.. Like I said above, there has to be some limits. It depends on what constitutes a sample. A kick drum sound? No big deal, but even a drum loop can be a hook. I bet if one of the members of MACOS had somebody sample a hook off one of their tunes, make a chorus out of it, and have a worldwide hit that generated huge publishing royalties, they’d feel ripped off.
Chain D.L.K.: I realize that you are a professional and you deal with major labels and I realize that it is not easy to to answer this question freely, but do you ever think about simply using a sample without mentioning, especially when it is not a huge band or very manipulated and un-recognizable?
Rhys Fulber: I do it occasionally. I bought a lot of CDs in the eastern Mediterranean countries that I sampled stuff from. They didn’t even have addresses on the back of them, so I figured no one would know! They were probably bootlegs anyways. Its usually percussion sounds though, never melodies.
Chain D.L.K.: A related question I would like to ask you is whether you wanted all the travelling to be part of the creative process or if the creative process happened to be influenced by the travelling. In other words, did you specifically plan on having all these influences from the other side of the globe in search of a something that was taking shape in your mind or were you travelling for work and meeting people and getting ideas that ultimately lead you to what "Conjure One" is like and sounds like?
Rhys Fulber: No, it just happened that way. I was living in Amsterdam at the start of the project and did a lot of the initial writing there and then ended up moving to Los Angeles a couple years later. Chris Elliott, who did all the string arrangements, and who I collaborate with a lot, is based in London, so some work was done there as well. It was more that I travelled to where the people I was working with were at.
Chain D.L.K.: Although you have travelled intensively for this record, including London, LA, Vancouver and Amsterdam, you had Sinead O’Connor in Ireland remotely singing over Ednet at $15/minute while you were in the States, which is definitely less expensive than flying her to you or you flying to her, but is probably also less immediate and intimate. Is there any specific reason you chose to record in this way with her or was it just incompatible schedules?
Rhys Fulber: I was going to go to Ireland because I was in Holland just before we were set to record the vocals, but since Rick Nowels (co-producer of the track) was unable to travel because of schedules, he booked the Ednet session, so I figured I might as well go home and be there with Rick for it.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever done it before? Do you like it? Do you think this is what the future of studio sessions will be?
Rhys Fulber: I produced a song for Josh Groban that was a duet with The Corrs, and we recorded the Corrs via ednet. Its mainly used because of schedual constraints, but isn’t that much different as far as working. Most singers are behind the glass in a vocal booth and you’re communicating via talkback microphones anyways. Its actually ten year old technology that not many people use, so I’m not sure you could call it the future.
Chain D.L.K.: Speaking of Sinead O’Connor, what do you think about the controversy around her? Personally I have always been on her side… Freedom of expression is important to me, not to mention how anti-religious I am anyway; what is your opinion about all this?
Rhys Fulber: I never thought about this and think people dwell on that issue too much. She’s an artist. Artists are supposed to think radically.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you knew her before? Were you friends or was this just a one-time strictly work thing?
Rhys Fulber: No and no. It was set up by a friend who works for Billy Steinberg, who is a songwriter I collaborated with. Rick Nowels knew her and I let him do all the talking. With an Ednet session, there isn’t much time for chit-chat.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you feel like telling us something about the other three involved singers? What and how have their style and personality contributed to your record?
Rhys Fulber: With Chemda, she was a friend of a friend and she sent a demo of her singing what is now Redemption and it blew me away, so we just took it from there. She brought a very dynamic and dramatic touch to the record. Poe did her vocals on her own and brought a very nice uplifting quality. Marie-Claire is known more as a songwriter who works with Billy Steinberg and Rick Nowels, and has a such a voice where the songs don’t end up sounding as good when someone else sings them.
Chain D.L.K.: I have read that you didn’t change most of the original versions that the vocalists came up with. What exactly are you looking for when producing a vocal track?
Rhys Fulber: There was some production involved, but for the most part, I let the singers just write their parts. What was I looking for? Vibe and melody.
Chain D.L.K.: Were you in the studio working with them on the lines, the melodies etc and doing lots of comping and punching?
Rhys Fulber: Yes, except with Poe, who did all her singing, recording and editing on her own.
Chain D.L.K.: Are all lyrics yours or theirs? Do they address any specific theme?
Rhys Fulber: I’m not much of a lyricist, so the singers wrote their own, except Marie-Claire. Billy Steinberg is the lyricist and she comes up with the singing melodies.
Chain D.L.K.: What is your favourite studio tool? Are you a Pro Tools maniac too or do you have any other beloved jewel or tips you’d like to share with us?
Rhys Fulber: I write and program everything in Logic Audio, which is my favorite, and bounce the files down to be brought up in Pro Tools for the final mixdown. Nowadays, I seem to be doing everything in my Mac laptop and not using the mass of keyboards and samplers I have at home.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you tell us why you prefer Logic over Pro Tools for editing and PT over Logic for mixing and what other software you use to create and produce music and replace your home-alone synths?
Rhys Fulber: Logic is a more musical environment which lends it self better to writing, but Protools hardware sounds the best and the audio editing is more detailed, which lends it self better to mixing and recording, especially recording and editing vocals. I use Recycle a lot as well.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you think the music world is ready to replace digital synthesizers and samplers with software all together? If not, what do you think is still better about using a real synth, except for the fact it has keys of course?
Rhys Fulber: Most new synths are DSP and software anyways so there’s not really any difference, except they have more power dedicated to them. Analogue synths still have a unique feel to them, especially the modulars, that can’t be 100% replicated. They’re more like a true instrument, like a guitar, that has subtle nuances that are different every time you play it.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you use lots of software-synths (if yes which ones do you prefer) or do you rather use plug-ins and then manipulate the sounds? Do you like to use real instrument sources?
Rhys Fulber: I use a bit of everything you mentioned. I like the Emagic ES2 a lot.
Chain D.L.K.: By doing most of your work on your laptop, do you miss any of your analog synths or are you perfectly cool with the all-digital domain?
Rhys Fulber:For certain things I miss the hardware, but the convienience of the powerbook outweighs this completely, especially when I’m on a production gig that I have to travel to. It sounds corny, but my life is in my powerbook. I’m typing this interview in it right now…
Chain D.L.K.: I have read that you used lots of samples from world music CDs you bought in Turkey and Cyprus… Can you possibly mention any of these artists you sampled? What kind of samples have you used? Percussions? Vocals?
Rhys Fulber: I can’t remember the artist’s names, but it was mostly percussion samples.
Chain D.L.K.: Since you had all these Middle East-driven vibes, have you used or thought about using Muslimgauze samples too?
Rhys Fulber: No. I look to more world sources and not what I would consider contemporary artists.
Chain D.L.K.: There are plenty of Middle Eastern atmospheres and grooves in this record… I am assuming you travelled through these areas… What are your impressions about the situation in these regions?
Rhys Fulber: I’ve only been to Turkey and Cyprus which were not exactly extreme religious states. All I know is that different religions don’t mix well in that heat.
Chain D.L.K.: What about the other collaborators on the record… Any interesting stories concerning your work with Billy Steinberg, Tom Holkenborg, Rick Nowels and Chris Elliot? To what degree where they involved in this project?
Rhys Fulber: Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, has been a close friend for years. He’s such a talented programmer that I’m always nicking his techniques! He’s one of those people that inspires you with his talent and work ethic. Chris Elliott is a "real" musician. One who writes out charts and such. He also conducted the string section and replayed all the piano parts much more elegantly than I ever could. Billy and Rick are songwriters who do mostly "vibey" pop records. I learned a lot from their professionalism
Chain D.L.K.: What brought you to use a real orchestra?
Rhys Fulber: It wasn’t a full orchestra. It was just strings. Violins, violas and cellos. 23 players in all. Why? It sounds wonderful and has much more depth and feeling than using string samples.
September 17th 2002
Chain D.L.K.: What’s your favourite song of your record and why?
Rhys Fulber: Center of the Sun. The chorus makes me feel good. Its positive feeling.
Chain D.L.K.: Although "Conjure One" is basically an electronic album it is also a more "easy-listening" experience, if you will let me pass the term… Did you uncompromisingly achieve what you felt like doing or did you look for a pleasing blend of grooves, synthetic-based music and radio-friendly vocals that might have a bigger commercial potential to match your work on the lucky single "Silence"? In other words are sales a significant part of your satisfaction and your impulse to get better or are you more driven by other factors?
Rhys Fulber: As a producer, you think about sales and radio because that’s part of your job. As an artist, I just wanted to please myself, so its a bit of everything I guess. That being said, if this record sold 2 copies, I would continue to make Conjure One music. I personally am very interested in the art of pop music and song writing, and to me making a cool pop record is a far bigger challenge than writing a 10 minute ambient opus.
Chain D.L.K.: In another interview you mentioned pressure at times… What kind of pressure were you referring to?
Rhys Fulber: Making everything the best it can be. Its easy to say "that’s good enough", but I wanted to push it further. There was also so much sample related drama. I had to keep going back and recalling mixes and replace samples I couldn’t get clearance on. It happened so much to the point I thought this record would never come out, which is a very depressing situation when you’ve spent almost four years of your life crafting something with all your heart.
Chain D.L.K.: Also you mentioned that you feel really pleased with the outcome and that you have said something… Is there anything specific you feel like you’ve said or does it simply feel right?
Rhys Fulber: Some of the lyrics reflect some personal things for me but its mostly just the emotion of it that is the message. The feeling more than the words. Redemption was sung in Arabic, but its the emotion of it that touches me.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you see Conjure One as a long-life thing or just a single chapter in your music-making life?
Rhys Fulber: I’d like to continue for a long time beacuse I feel I could take this project down many musical paths.
Chain D.L.K.: What can we expect from you as Conjure One in the future?
Rhys Fulber: More music. Maybe some live shows if there was enough demand to make it realistic.
Chain D.L.K.: What else have you been working on lately?
Rhys Fulber: This new Paradise Lost album which I think will be excellent.
Chain D.L.K.: Any final thoughts? Speak your mind…
Rhys Fulber: Thanks for taking the time… Cheers!w w w . c o n j u r e o n e . c o m
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