“I just do what I do”
That’s what Rhys Fulber has to say when pressed about whether or not being on a specific label (Armada at the moment for his main musical outlet, Conjure One) influences his musical output. Who is Rhys Fulber, you ask? If you’re a fan of industrial music, metal, ambient electronica and even Pop then chances are you might’ve heard some of producer/mixer/programmer extraordinaire Rhys Fulber’s work over the last 20 or so years.
He’s worked with everyone from Fear Factory to Josh Groban and been a part of outfits ranging from the industrial noiseniks of Front Line Assembly to the ethereal dream makers of Delerium (Also featuring FLA’s Bill Leeb) and previously mentioned Conjure One. But how does a person a person go from “Pisschrist” to “Silence” with Sarah Mclachlan?
“It’s almost always a case of someone approaching you, so it’s really just deciding if you can listen to that music non-stop for a few months. I like to try things outside my comfort zone too, so sometimes the more different, the more exciting. I did a jazz record in Canada a few years back for instance and that was a great experience.”
As for dream projects, Fulber continues: “I don’t really dream of working with anyone in particular because who is to say the feeling would be mutual! So other than my childhood hero Pete Shelley, I will stick to the more tangible, and say Devin Townsend, because we’ve dabbled with some stuff before and it seemed like we were onto something.”
He goes on to describe what the differences are in collaborating with different artists from Bill Leeb to Armin Van Buuren: “Working with those guys is again similar to my role as producer, but being more involved in the songwriting, and helping them get their ideas across. If I was to choose a collaborator myself, I’d go for someone who does something I don’t. Like a great singer or a good player, guitarist or whatever other instrument.”
“As for producing, it’s really dependent on each artist or band and what they are trying to achieve. With the heavy stuff it’s usually providing textural keyboards and programming but I’ve also done singer/songwriter type music where the programming gets all stripped away in favor of live players. I find that when producing you spend most of the record working on vocals and finding the best arrangements for the songs. So though I’m known for being a programmer, I’d say most of my time goes into the vocal production.”
And just because the man has surrounded himself with a number of prolific industrial artists, don’t expect his Ipod to be filled with tunes of the genre: “Other than the underrated Daniel Myer (Haujobb, Architect), not really. I kind of checked out after the ‘glory years’ and already by 1992 I was following what became IDM and dance music, then more rock and metal. Once in a while I will check some stuff out but mostly its either 1999 trance with distorted bro or Depeche vibes or its using the Ministry of 242 puppy-ebbs recipe, none of which interest me. I think the spirit of what was once industrial music (like the original early ’80’s stuff) lives on more with proto dubstep artists like Burial or artists like Squarepusher.”
Through the producing, mixing, programming, and performing there have obviously been a number of career highs up until now and Fulber was gracious enough to share some of them: “I’m lucky enough to have had several, but if I have to pick two it would be having an actual global hit single with Delerium and Sarah McLachlan, which was both exciting, and surreal (and elusive!), then working with David Foster on Josh Groban because it seems about as far from my industrial beginnings as humanly possible.”
But Fulber’s career is far from over with a number of new projects on the horizon, some hitting sooner than others: “I’m almost finished mixing The Dreaming’s new record. It’s a logical extension of what they did as Stabbing Westward, albeit more modernized, with lots of hooks and very strong vocal performances. It’s been fun to work on, and I got to add some analog synths as well. After that its some of the usual suspects: new Delerium, Fear Factory’s next album and I’m almost wrapped the next Conjure One album, which is my main personal outlet now. As if that’s not enough, there’s some other things running in the background that I don’t want to speak of until they solidify more.”