Few, if any, current musicians can claim to be as prolific as Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb. As Intermix, Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit, and Delerium, they have released over 25 albums in less than a decade. That’s not counting other collaborations, with Fulber and/or Leeb working with such bands as Cyberactif and Will, and doing remixes for Fear Factory. The duo has recently put out a new Intermix album, Future Primitives. The album makes extensive and very creative use of various ethnic vocal samples, somewhat reminiscent of Deep Forest. In a phone interview, Fulber discussed the album.
“Future Primitives” sounds quite a bit like the last Delerium album – how do you differentiate between the two projects?
RHYS: Delerium has always been more ambient, and Intermix has been more dance. In the dance area, we’re more interested in the ambient kind of stuff so that’s why it sounds the way it does.”
Where did the vocal samples used on “Future Primitives” come from?
RHYS: “I don’t know. Bill records stuff from all over the place and brings them into the studio and we sample stuff. I don’t know where they came from! It could be from anywhere, I have no idea. He’ll bring a DAT home and a few weeks later show up with a tape of stuff.”
Do you usually have the music done before dealing with the vocal samples, or do you base songs around samples you like?
RHYS: “It goes either way. A lot of times we’ll find some kind of nice vocal loop and get it in tempo and then figure out the notes and write a riff around it so it all fits.”
Bands like Deep Forest and Enigma use a lot of the type of samples you have been using all along. Do you think their success influenced you at all to use them more extensively?
RHYS: “I never really thought about it. We listen to that stuff, not a lot, but you hear it and think ‘oh, this is kind of cool.’ But I never thought about it. We’ve always done that kind of style. When all that other stuff came out and became popular, it didn’t bother me or anything, it’s better to have that than something else. We kind of through if that became popular maybe more people would be interested in what we’re doing. I hear it and it sounds really simple, while we’ve always been into stuff with a little more depth. We never really think about it in that kind of way.”
Why is Roadrunner releasing Intermix under the “ESP-SUN” label name now?
RHYS: “That’s been happening for a while, because the people at the Dutch office are big on techno so they started up this techno/ambient label and I think only now it’s starting to filter over here.”
Whatever happened to Third Mind?
RHYS: “Third Mind got dismantled, which is a bit of a drag but that’s what happens in the record world sometimes. Gary’s doing other stuff, he’s managing some bands and doing some stuff for Delerium, promotion and stuff through Nettwerk. I think the problem was that a lot of the acts, with the exception of Front Line, I guess weren’t selling a lot of records and Roadrunner I guess kind of ran out of patience.”
Do you keep all your projects separate, or do you start working on material and then decide which it will be used for?
RHYS: “Usually, it’s like we’ll do a new Delerium album and start writing songs, same with this, we’ll say ‘ok, new Intermix’ and we wrote. We didn’t really write a bunch of stuff and start filing it. It’s usually done the other way, so it’s just what we’re into at the moment.”
When you first started out, did you ever have any idea you’d be doing dance music like this now?
RHYS: “It just happened, which is probably a good thing, though. It’s just the taste of the moment, really.”
Have you ever considered a tour that would feature material from more than one of your projects?
RHYS: “No, that would be too much of a mind game. You kind of have to get into each one differently.”
You were also involved with WILL. What’s the status of that project?
RHYS: “I don’t think there is a status. John and Chris got some other thing going that’s really heavy. It’s electronic, but it doesn’t really sound electronic. It’s not metal, that’s for sure, it’s just extremely heavy rhythmic kind of music. I think they’re getting some kind of record deal together. They share a space with Skinny Puppy, so they all kind of borrow each other’s equipment..”
You’ve had so many albums with your various projects, does everything you record get released?
RHYS: “No we’ve got stuff that’s just sitting. Stuff that’s either deemed not worthy or whatever.”
Is there any truth to the rumors about a Delerium tour?
RHYS: “I don’t know. We’re not too excited about that, really. Because a lot of times with bands I like, you’re into a record and you see it live and if it’s not cool it kind of ruins your whole perception of it. So, we don’t want to play live unless we can put something together that is totally happening. And a lot of times happening equates with money. So I won’t rule out the possibility, but even if we did we wouldn’t do a lot of shows. There’s a lot of interest in Canada, and San Francisco and Detroit. We sold a lot of CDs in those 2 cities, but that’s about the only place. Nettwerk doesn’t really get good distribution in the US, but I think something is being worked out to get us better distribution. In Canada, it sells really well, we get heavy rotation on the video channel, and it’s almost main stream here. You hear it on the radio all the time.
The Delerium videos haven’t been shown much in America. What are they like?
RHYS: “‘Flowers Become Screams’ looks like an obsession commercial or something, it’s all black and white letter-boxed in the desert with the models. It’s this guy with this weird looking woman and this story, we’re not in it at all. It looks really nice though. And there’s one for ‘Incantation’ that’s in the same vein, kind of tribal kinds of stuff. They look nice.”
Are they shown a lot in Canada?
RHYS: “They play it heavily, ‘Flowers’ used to get played five times a day. ‘Incantation’ was about twice a day for a while and we had ads on the channel for a while. Up here it does good.”
Is it a big annoyance to you that Delerium aren’t getting as much exposure in America?
RHYS: “I don’t really worry about it. It would be nice, and it’s coming, it’s going to happen. I know they’re putting stuff together so I’m not to worried about it. It’s just starting to happen in Europe too, I think. Nettwerk do a really good job in Canada, but they’re not big enough to fully do the rest of the world so they’re getting this other thing sorted out.”
Several Nettwerk artists are licensed through larger US labels. Do you think that will happen with Delerium?
RHYS: “Yeah, I think that might be in the works for Delerium.”
What was it like working the new Fear Factory album?
RHYS: “I did all the keyboards and mixed it. It was great, we’re friends. I just went to upstate New York and recorded all the keyboards and sample with them. We had to remix the whole album because the producer kind of botched it so me and Greg Reely went down to LA and we mixed the whole album. And now it’s done, and it’s quite the thing in Europe.”
You seem to have had a big effect on their sound.
RHYS: “It’s totally part of their image and sound now. We’re all really good friends so it’s great and we want to see everyone do well. They are starting to really explode in Europe so I’m happy for them.”
They seem to be the opposite of bands like NIN and Ministry, who start out with electronics and then add guitars.
RHYS: “Dino’s guitar playing, it’s really hard to play like Dino, and the drummer’s a freak. It is all real, that’s not programming, and he plays like that live. That’s why I really like that music in a lot of ways, it doesn’t have as much gimmickry.”
Will your new project sound at all like that?
RHYS: “It will be a lot more diverse, I think. I’m really into orchestral, epic ambient kind of stuff. It won’t be anything like any of that stuff. It will have elements of all that, but it won’t be like …… I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.”
Compared to other bands, you don’t seem big on remixes of your own material. Why?
RHYS: “People over do it. The odd remix is cool, but people go way overboard. They microscope on songs and do 20 remixes and it’s not necessary. The odd remix is ok, but not 200 for one song. I think there should be a limit of 2 per song.”
Has anyone remixed one of your songs in an unexpected way?
RHYS: “This guy did a remix for ‘The Blade’ in England. His name is Justin Robertson. he’s like a really trendy DJ and he did a remix that was a dub, almost reggae thing, we couldn’t use it for Front Line at all, people would totally freak out. It was really dub and happy sounding with all this rasta stuff, pretty weird. It wasn’t that it was bad or anything, it just wasn’t suitable for Front Line. We had some guys to some Delerium remixes but we didn’t like them so we didn’t use any of them. They were alright, but really house music and I can’t really relate to it.”
Are there any particular bands you’d like to do remix work for?
RHYS: “I don’t really think about it. There’s bands I like, but unless it sounds like shit and you can hear there’s a cool song, then usually it’s like ‘yeah, that would be nice but I’m not going to worry about it.’ Sometimes I get records, where I think it’s really cool but sounds horrible, that happens. I usually just don’t think like that. Usually, I think, good songs, they’re fine, unless people want to change it. I did that for a band called Machine Hear. I didn’t change the songs that much just because they were fine, and it was metal so it’s not like I was going to do techno breaks. Usually, I try to do remixes to suit what the band is, while some people do the remixes the same no matter who it is. Like the Orb, for instance, will just mutilate stuff and a lot of times I like to do mixes to suit the band.”