I was lucky enough to catch up with Fulton Lee and ask him a few questions, here’s what he had to say…..
Q: So congratulations on being the champ of Music City Mayhem…it’s a huge radio station contest in Nashville. Tell us about the contest and what was it like when they announced you were as the winner.
A: The Mayhem contest was a HUGE deal for us. Everyone in the band spent several full days reaching out to every family member and friend asking them to vote. Many of us went name by name through our list of contacts in our shamelessly asking people we haven’t spoken to in years to vote for us. It was thrilling and exhausting an anxiety inducing. When we were announced as the winner it was surreal. I sincerely never realistically imagined that we would win. I’ve been a fan of Nashville in 2016, so it felt like a movie, like it wasn’t real. Still kind of feels like that…
Q: At 23, you’re living in Nashville, a city rich in music history, has to be sometimes difficult for a musician with so many people moving here hoping for a big break….how has it been for you and your success so far?
A: Nashville is definitely over saturated with musicians but that hasn’t been too much of an obstacle for us. I think we have a pretty unique genre for Nashville. We make funk/pop/R&B music, which isn’t super common here, that’s allowed us to exist in a smaller niche community within the ocean of musicians in the city. The more “non-commercial”, non-country indie R&B scene in Nashville is very awesome and I believe is thriving! It’s helped the big city feel like a small town to me.
Q: You started your career trying to pay tribute to the sounds of James Brown and Little Richard but then evolved into your own unique sound. What do you want people to feel when they hear your music for the first time?
A: Wow, what a question. I think for me, I’d like people to feel like they’re hearing a sound with distinct personality. One of the things I love most as a listener is feeling like a style of songwriting and production or performance is a unique natural outgrowth of the artist. Like some artists just have they’re own kind of musical language or personality that comes forth in their tracks, like you can recognize a Beatles song just by hearing the melody because it has that “Beatles” signature style in it, I don’t know what that is, but it makes me feel like I’m seeing a more profound picture of the person behind the art thank could see just though conversation or spoken word. It’s like when an artist taps into their own signature sound, they’re showing some distilled part of themselves that can only be revealed through art. That makes me feel connected to them and inspired. So that’s what I want people to feel, I’d say…inspired and connected with.
Q: Your music definitely has smooth soulful harmonically type of vibes..really love your EP Baby Blue released in 2018…so many great tracks including…The Wire, Baby Blue, Water…Kirkwood Sessions EP is a live album of those songs and my fave that’s on repeat is Call You Mine released in 2019… Lie Down & Sunshine released this yr…almost sound a bit like Mika on Sunshine…..talk about each album and the process of what went into each..
A: I’m so glad you’re digging the music! Baby Blue was an EP I wrote with my collaborator and drummer, August Pappas. I had been writing music like mad since moving to Nashville in 2016 and eventually landed on making music in a doo wop 50’s style. That style mixed in with my modern ear turned into the songs on that record. August and I produced the EP ourselves and worked with an engineer named Max Rubel. He’s awesome. We made demos of all the tracks at my house on my laptop for almost a year before we actually went into the studio. We had no idea what we were doing. I had no idea how to use the Logic software on my laptop as we were making demos, we had no idea how to arrange and produce songs. We were just learning completely on instincts and feel. We really locked in together on the vision for the tracks as a bright, soulful, vintage pop vibe and just tried to make the tracks into a distinct color/flavor that touched on our vision. Since then, we’ve worked with a producer on our song Feed Me, his name is Quinn Redmon and he helped us a ton making that song as funky as possible. That was a similar process, we demo’d that song for a long time at home and then brought it to Quinn and he gave us a lot of insight and changed a lot of parts/sounds for us to make the track everything it needed to be. It was a learning experience working with a producer, we again had to rely on our instincts more than anything. Our lack of experience has forced us to do that on many occasions, it’s probably a blessing in disguise. For our single, Call You Mine a year later, we worked with an engineer named Maccabee. That song again was fully self produced by me and August. We spent almost a full year with a demo of that song. It went through many changes. It was originally written for a drum kit and piano and foo wooo backup vocals and a samba drum beat, but it wasn’t just wasn’t quite clicking, so over the year we experimented with so many things that we landed on that bright acoustic guitar and a kind of Paul Simon jungle vibe for the second half of the song. It’s probably my favorite track we’ve made to this day. Now August and our guitar player, Jake Schweinsberg, have created their own instrumental funk band as a side project called The Sugalumps. Sunshine, our latest single, was an instrumental track they created that I wrote melody and lyrics over. Looking forward, we’re working on our first full length record. A concept album called Sonny Boy. It’s a wacky rock opera – storytelling concept album about a character called Sonny Boy. It makes me feel ultra-inspired and also completely insane and out of touch. That’s probably a good 0lace to be I think. It’s a pretty far ways off, but we’ll have several other singles and small EP projects come out in the meantime.
Q: How has COVID challenged you in performing? Have you been able to do any live performances through social media or locally but socially distanced?
A: I haven’t done much live performing at all since the pandemic. I did one livestream charity event with This Wonderful World Magazine, it was very fun. I’m looking to get into more writers rounds now that things are opening up a little.
Q: What do you do for fun when not writing music?
A: I love NFL Football! I’m pretty into Fantasy Football, which my band mates August and Jake are in as well. I also love chillin’ with my wife and my 3 month old daughter, She’s started babbling lately, it’s very cute.
Q: Where can fans find your music?
A: Our music is everywhere music streamed! Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon, Tidal and anywhere e,see you can think of! Follow me on Instagram @fultonleemusic for updates on shows, releases, videos, interviews and everything else! I am also running a Patreon account, Fulton Lee, where I upload songs while I’m demoing them and talk about how I’m crafting the track so people get to see the full journey a song takes from conception in real time!
Thanks Fulton! Stayed tuned for upcoming interviews with Callum Lacey, Jenna Rae, Ranky Tanky, Mipso, Peezy & Lala to name a few..
Until then, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias