02|24|09   Chart Interview with Jeff Fulton

In the following interview Mark speaks with Jeff Fulton of Chart for Chart’s June 2007 featured artist initiative.

Chart: Tell us about how The Enright House began?

“It began around 2000 while I was studying music in Chicago. I was increasingly getting into soundscape art and electro-acoustic music and my composition teachers didn’t quite know what to do with this stuff, as they we’re used to looking at scores I would write for traditional ensembles, not me bringing in random recordings I created on my computer.”

“Despite some resistance from my professors these pieces started piling up on my computer and I couldn’t stand filing my music under “Mark Roberts”. I knew my name (still do!) and didn’t want to stare at it every time I wanted to listen to what I had been working on. Anyhow, I was heavily into the authoress/philosopher Ayn Rand, at the time, and the name “The Enright House” refers to something of deep personal significance to me in her book, “The Fountainhead.” I thought, why not?, and that’s how it all started. I selected all the random files, hit apple+i and typed in The Enright House under artist, and so it’s been for the last 7 years. About half a year ago, then, I decided the material was moving more and more towards “band music” and Evan, Simon and Thomas eventually joined me in forming a band. And, well… here we are.”

Chart: Who are your musical influences and how would you describe your sound?

“I think of our sound as being essentially a melting pot of four major genres of music, namely post-rock, indie-pop, electronica, and classical minimalism. Stuff that’s influenced me in a major way are bands and artists like Mogwai and Sigur Ros; Death Cab For Cutie and Sufjan Stevens; DNTEL and Arovane; and Philip Glass and Arvo Part.”

“So our sound? Well, I think a lot of the melodic and harmonic content comes straight out of pop, really. But the way our instruments sound and the song structures carrying these melodies and harmonies along probably owe much more to post-rock and electronica. If I had to caricature our music I might put it this way… take some good old sweet indie-pop vocal line, turn up the delay on the guitars and grab a few unusual toys to manipulate them with, boot up my laptop and synths, throw in a slightly odd time signature for good measure and see if any ideas turn into something I could actually spend weeks and months turning into a song without going insane and smashing a chair against the wall out of frustration – this happened two days ago, actually. Not my most graceful moment, to say the least.”

Chart: Your live show incorporate several experimental elements, tell us about that?

“Generally speaking I am very fond of weird electronic noises and modern synths, but at the end of the day I still feel drawn to the simple fact that natural instruments, too, can be exciting and harbour unexplored sounds. Given my primary instrument is the guitar, I tend to try and experiment as much as I can with means and ways of producing sounds that go beyond picking or strumming a few strings. Some of the toys we use on guitars, for example, include cello and violin bows, e-bows, chopsticks, spoons, copper wire, bottle caps to twist on the strings – NZ milk bottle caps are the best for more chug, and I can highly recommend coke or pepsi caps for more subtle melodic work! We also use a lot of effects and loopers to create more sound.”

“In addition to that, we often integrate our laptop into the performance to handle drum samples and spoken word recordings. No doubt, our favorite obsessions will change over time – a few years ago it was the prepared piano and reversed vocal lines; the latest one is my vocoder! But the basic idea of taking instruments and trying to get the most out of them creatively is very firmly lodged at the core of what The Enright House is and will continue to be.”

Chart: Interesting… so what has been your favourite gig or venue to play?

“Camp A Low Hum was an extraordinarily soulful and carefree experience. We loved playing there and hanging out in the sun making new friends. If we’re not invited to play next year, there is no doubt in my mind that we’ll be back as audience members: it was really that good, and I cannot commend Blink (the organizer) enough for believing in his crazy idea and putting it all together.”