There is a large contingent of people who would count Rhys Fulber as one of the more important figures in electronic music in the last twenty years. He is certainly one of the most prolific. At the age of sixteen he began collaborating with ex-Skinny Puppy contributor Bill Leeb in Front Line Assembly, contributing the song "Black Fluid" to FLA's second demo Total Terror, released in 1986. Here is that track:
Fulber became a full-time member of FLA in 1989 and with his help the band would go on to release some of the most influential industrial music of the early 1990s, with Tactical Neural Implant (1992) becoming a benchmark of the genre. In addition, Fulber collaborated with Leeb on the ambient pop project Delerium, and he has done production work for bands like Fear Factory and Paradise Lost, among others. His resume behind the boards is substantial and includes references from artists as diverse as Yes, Motley Crue, Josh Groban, Megadeth, and Mindless Self Indulgence. He has worked with vocalists like Sarah Mclachlan and Sinead O'Connor. And, interestingly enough, he played keyboards on the live recording of that Nailbomb show, Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide, at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in 1995. Really, it seems like the guy can do almost anything and work with anyone, but he is most remembered for his work with FLA.
Here is a hilarious clip from the Canadian Music Video Awards in which FLA are awarded the "Best Alternative Video" award for 1992. Leeb and Fulber don't appear until the 3:07 mark, but it is still worth watching.
In 1997 Fulber developed Conjure One while on a break from Front Line Assembly and has since released three albums of what Fulber has called classical and eastern influenced atmospheric pop structured music. His latest release is Exilarch. Here's a track from that album:
A friend of mine brought to my attention the fact that Mr Fulber is currently touring with Conjure One and coming to my area so I decided to bother him and see if he would be nice enough to answer a few of my jackass questions, and I thought that a few of you might have some sort of interest in hearing what he's up to nowadays. Of course, he was willing to answer my jackass questions, because he's a very nice guy, but he was very busy, so it's a very abbreviated "interview".
The Point: How is the music of Conjure One different from that of Front Line Assembly?
Rhys Fulber: "I think Front Line dealt more in a science fiction type reality where as I feel Conjure One is based more on earthly emotions and the ancient rather than the future. Also Front Line was much more testosterone based where as Conjure One incorporates the female element and a balance of the two sensibilities."
How influential was Kraftwerk in your, for lack of a better term, musical evolution?
"I assume it was pretty large as it shaped my taste at a very early age - I saw them in concert when i was age 6 as my parents took me with them in lieu of a babysitter. That whole period of electronic music from the 1970s is one of my main influences."
Your bio says that your latest release Exilarch "rediscovers the roots that initially inspired you to create music". Can you elaborate on that statement?
"That is referring to the above statement about 1970s electronic music. I feel I channeled a lot of my original influences into this new record."
Your work in Conjure One seems to be be concerned with synthesizing Eastern music with Western music. Where do you see those two styles of music intersecting?
"Eastern music has always been something I've gravitated towards, maybe because of the emotional and introspective quality a lot of it has, but its also simply sounds and a style I like. Its also a region of mystery and fascination to me outside of just the music, especially central Asia, where you get the added bonus of Soviet Bloc surrealism colliding with ancient silk road tribalism. There's two songs on the new record, "Places That Don't Exist and "Nargis" where you can hear this combination."
What can people expect from a Conjure One show?
"We try to be as live as possible within the parameters of live electronic music and not having a 5 piece band, and what we perform live is not exactly like the recordings. It also evolves from show to show. We try to incorporate some improvisation as well, and we have some imagery projected behind us from the artist who designed the Exilarch cover."
Conjure One will be performing at the Riot Room in Kansas City with The God Project, NZEKT, and The Resistance on March 15th.