Hailing from Vermont, progressive house DJ Pierce Fulton has jetted up the charts since storming onto the scene with his debut EP in 2011. Fulton’s single “Runaway”, part of an EP released under the same title, topped Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart in 2014, cementing his rise. Since, he’s released his third EP “Borrowed Lives” under the Seeking Blue lable, and a slew of singles under the likes of Armin Van Buuren’s Armada lable, and the famed Monstercat. His latest release “Life in Letters” debuted today, have a listen to the track embedded below.
— — —
Sean Ritchie: I was really interested in talking to you about Vermont, being that you’re from there and Minus Zero Festival is this weekend. Touch on the state as a whole. What stands out to you? Obviously, its natural beauty is hard to beat. Where would you send a first-time visitor, as well?
Pierce Fulton: Oh, that’s a big question, because I am probably the number-one fan of Vermont. I moved to VT when I was nine from Connecticut. My first thought was that I was going to miss all my friends, and not being around civilization. Little did I know growing up in VT would be a huge transformative part of my life. When I was really young I didn’t understand it, but in hindsight it had a huge impact. It’s the kind of place where you have to be really inventive and creative. You create your own fun. My favorite memories were building bows and arrows out of sticks, climbing trees and making my own snowboard jumps, stuff like that.
If I grew up elsewhere I would have gotten into other activities and it would have changed my path. A lot of what led me to make music, more importantly electronic music, is the fact that I was stuck in VT with not much to do besides expanding my own imagination.
A lot of the things to do are centered around exploring nature. There are some incredible swimming holes, like this place near Stratton called Pikes Falls. There are a lot of really cool outdoor activities that people elsewhere would pay to go to. I also used to canoe down the Batten Kill River that flows through Manchester, VT. That was really fun. VT is the kind of place that you could be doing something, and you very well could be the only person in that area.
SR: That’s legit. I’m a big snowboarder, but the first time I went to VT was this past winter when we went to Killington. I was instantly taken aback by the mountains and the natural scenery. I’ve heard stories about it, but to experience the landscape of it first hand was really, really cool. It’s awesome to go back for Minus Zero today.
PF: Yeah, I’m excited. I heard they got a quite a bit of snow in the past week or so. Last year when I played I was able to snowboard the same day as the show. I’m planning on doing the same this year. I hope I can, and that my equipment still somewhat fits.
SR: That actually leads into my next question. Usually, when people think of a music festival, it’s in the middle of summer, sweating in a parking lot or field somewhere. Minus Zero switches it up entirely, and is a huge change of pace from that, with the setting being Stratton Mountain. I know you played there last year, so touch on what that experience was like and your excitement for this year.
PF: One thing that was really insane about last year, is that I’m from Stratton and grew up five minutes from where the festival happens. I’m sure it will happen again this year, but I was in the middle of my set, I look over my shoulder to the right and I see the Stratton Ski School. That’s where I learned how to snowboard when I was five years old. I had been going up to VT for many years before I moved up there.
Anyway, I’m in the middle of my set and I realized that what I’ve been doing for the last four or five years professionally had somehow led me back to where I grew up. I saw kids I grew up and went to high school with in the crowd. My high school music teacher was there. Some of my best friends from college were there. It was one of the first performances in years that I was legitimately nervous about before. So many people that I knew were all eyes and ears. It was a lot of pressure for the first time in a long time.
SR: That’s crazy how full circle it was. I’m sure that was kind of a defining moment for you.
PF: Yeah, there’s no explanation other than that it was very weird, but in the best way possible. It almost felt like déjà vu, but it was real. It was some sort of weird existential-type vibe. It was really cool though, and very special. I’m excited to feel it again this year.
SR: That’s sick! So being a snowboarder, I’m sure you’ve hit some of the other mountains in VT, what makes Stratton stand out from the rest or differentiates in any way?
PF: It’s funny you mentioned that, because there’s kind of, I don’t want to say a rivalry, but there’s an unsaid battle between Stratton and Bromley. I used to actually work at Bromley in the summer — great mountain. I will say the one thing that’s great about Bromley is that they get a lot of sun. Stratton gets sun as well, but Bromley gets hit with a ton of sun.
I love Stratton, because it’s a lot more developed. They have a lot more options to ski or snowboard on. Stuff like the gondola, having instant access to the top of the mountain, is really incredible. They have really good glades and woods runs. The parks are always really good, obviously with having the US Open for so many years. I went to the US Open every year that I was living there. It’s the most fun event ever, but I guess something like Minus Zero is taking that over, which is pretty crazy.
One thing I really love is that it’s a pretty heavy tourist mountain, but it’s also pretty heavily local. There are a lot of people from around the area that go to Stratton. There’s this really good blend of people that live and have skied there their whole lives, but they also welcome a lot of the tourists. There are a few other mountains where the locals don’t really welcome the tourists too much. There’s a bit of resistance. It’s kind of a butting heads. I think it’s because it’s always been a draw for people from out of state from the beginning. It just makes sense that the locals will be welcoming. It’s not some hideaway spot.
SR: That’s pretty cool. The one thing that stood out to me just looking at the layout of it was the village at the bottom of the mountain. Can you talk about that a little bit?
PF: Yes! I always forget how special that is. It’s funny, because I’ve been going there for so long that I don’t really think about it in that way. To me it’s just “the village”. Yet, there are very few ski mountains that have such an amazing residential and retail kind of community. I used to work at the Stratton Golf School, which is a little bit further away from the village, but there are these amazing facilities that are all Stratton related around the mountain. I would clean and pick up all golf balls from the school every summer. But, the village has all these amazing restaurants. I used to go to Grizzly’s all the time. Mulligan’s is really great as well. It’s another spot that really adds to the sense of community.
SR: Wow, I can’t wait to check it out. To tie it into your music a bit, you just released a new song “Life in Letters” today. Talk to some of the inspiration and mindset behind it.
PF: Yeah, this is the perfect interview for it. The name of the song is actually the name of a band that I was in in high school. I went to Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, and it has an incredible music program ran by a husband and wife. They really, really develop so many young kids’ interests in music. They really are the best people in music education I’ve come across. I was very, very influenced by their music program.
I always loved that name of the band and the message behind it though. So, I wrote this song that is mostly inspired by my time in VT. It’s kind of cool that it came out today and I’m back in VT. It’s another one of those full-circle things.
SR: Are you going to play it in your set tomorrow?
PF: Yeah, I believe I’m going to play it in my set. It’s always interesting playing new music, because no one has heard it before. It can be really fun when it goes well.
SR: That’s great I can’t wait to catch it live. Lastly to wrap this up, looking forward the next couple of months past Minus Zero, what do you have in store for your music?
PF: Yeah, actually this is the first of four singles that are going to be on my first album. I only just recently finished the album. There are still a few things to tweak, but the four singles that are coming out are ready, and “Life in Letters” is the first single to go. In total, there will be nine songs on the album. With that, I’m developing an entirely new show that I’m going to begin playing in the fall. So, it’s a lot of exciting new stuff and I’m really trying to push myself to keep evolving and growing.