FICTIONIST

Words & Photos by Eve Reinhardt

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It is late October in New York City and Fictionist is just six months out from their painful break-up with Atlantic Records—

but don’t feel sorry for them.  Band members Stuart Maxfield, Aaron Anderson, Jacob Jones and Brandon Kitterman have seen how the sausage is made and are fast becoming what could very well be the poster children of the modern music industry because of (and in spite of) it. In just one-fourth of the time it took Atlantic Records to woo them, sign them, mold them, de-value them, record an album the band didn’t believe in, chew on them and then spit out their little bones, the band single-handedly wrote, recorded and released a brand-new album on a “tiny, tiny, tiny” budget—a fraction of what their label previously spent. This new album, titled Fictionist, is an album worthy of everything an artist and their fans could ask for, including comparisons to MGMT, Peter Gabriel, Beck, The Gorillas and more.  But as one fan so aptly put it: “Fuck comparisons, Fictionist is the shit.”

Way, way beyond the experiences of a single band is what their situation says about the music industry itself and what it means for artists and industry alike moving forward.   It’s literally a million dollar problem, and it’s playing out all over the world in a wild-west-like fashion.  The music industry’s culture of money, corporate greed and fear has finally met it’s match in a post-digital era with bands like Fictionist (and many, many others) who are taking to social media and beyond to create art on their own terms.  But it hasn’t all been good.   It is absolutely true that these changes have been devastating and painful.  The post-digital world we live in has arguably destroyed and tarnished what many music lovers considered sacred; and even though the industry is overflowing with new talent and plenty of good-guy music men and women who are in it for the money AND the music, Rome is finally on fire, making way for a new world order in music to finally begin.

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“COMMERCIAL SUCCESS STILL HASNT’ COME TO AN ARTIST THAT ISN’T SIGNED TO A RECORD LABEL.  THERE ARE VERY FEW ARTISTS THAT CAN SUCCEED WITHOUT THE HELP OF A RECORD LABEL.  THE ROLE OF THE RECORD LABEL IS STILL REQUIRED, IT’S STILL NECESSARY.”

– Edgar Bronfman Jr., Chairman of the Warner Music Group

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 “THERE’S A COMMITTEE TO TELL YOU EVERYTHING AT A RECORD LABEL.  YOU DEFINITELY HAVE TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE IF YOU WANT TO LOOK LIKE YOU AT THE END OF THE PROCESS.  WE’VE ALL SEEN PEOPLE GET RECORD CONTRACTS, AND BY THE TIME THEY’RE SPIT OUT BY THE MACHINE, WE DON’T EVEN RECOGNIZE THEM.”

– Gary Allan

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  “THERE’S ALWAYS GOING TO BE BIG COMPANIES WHO ARE PUSHING MUSIC FOR THEIR OWN CORPORATE INTERESTS.  THAT TO ME IS A RECORD LABEL’S THING RIGHT NOW——MANUFACTURING ARTISTS.  BUT THEY HAVE TO DO THAT BECAUSE THEY HAVE SO MANY CORPORATE INTERESTS AND INVESTMENTS IN YOU THAT THEY CAN’T TAKE THE RISK OF YOU JUST DOING WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT.  IF YOU’RE A BAND OR AN ARTIST AND A RECORD LABEL WANTS TO SIGN YOU TODAY, YOU NEED TO ASK, ‘WHY?’  AND THEN FIGURE OUT, ‘WELL IF I’M VALUABLE TO THEM, AREN’T I JUST AS VALUABLE TO MYSELF?  WHAT IS THAT RECORD LABEL GOING TO DO FOR ME THAT I CAN’T ALREADY DO FOR MYSELF?’ OKAY, CAPITAL.  SO IF YOU SIGN FOR MONEY WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? AN ADVANCE?  YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET THAT MUCH MONEY. THEY OWN YOUR MUSIC AND YOU GET PAID A PERCENTAGE——A SMALL PERCENTAGE——OF YOUR MUSIC.  IN MY SITUATION, IF I SIGNED WITH A RECORD LABEL MY PAY WOULD GET CUT 60%! I’D HAVE TO MAKE THREE TIMES AS MUCH MONEY OVERALL TO  MAKE THE SAME THING I’M MAKING NOW.  TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ARITST, PERIOD—— WHETHER YOU’RE WITH A LABEL OR INDEPENDENT——YOU HAVE TO TAP INTO A GROUP OF PEOPLE…YOU HAVE TO BE MAKING MUSIC FOR SOMEONE.  YOU EITHER HAVE TO BUILD A CULTURE AROUND WHAT YOUR MUSIC IS, OR YOU HAVE TO BUILD YOUR MUSIC AROUND A CULTURE.  AND I THINK ONCE YOU DO THAT, THAT’S HOW YOU GET FANS.  THAT’S WHEN YOU BECOME A TRUE ARTIST.”

– Charley Hustle (a.k.a) The Hustle Standard

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“WITH THE ATLANTIC SCENARIO…WE COULD JUST FEEL THE FEAR AND THE UNEASINESS AT THAT LEVEL, THAT EVERYBODY’S WORRIED ABOUT GETING FIRED, EVERYBODY’S WORRIED ABOUT MAKING MONEY AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO DO IT…NOW, ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS TO SORT OF BE RESTORED TO US AFTER PARTING WAYS WITH ATLANTIC AND DOING IT THE WAY WE WERE MEANT TO DO IT…IS THERE’S A WHOLE LOT MORE HARMONY IN THE BAND.”

– Stuart Maxfield, Fictionist

Fictionist, Photographed in New York City. From left to right: Jacob Jones, Robbie Connolly, Aaron Anderson, Brandon Kitterman, and Stuart Maxfield.

MEET FICTIONIST

STUART MAXFIELD

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I’M STU.  I PLAY THE BASS AND SING IN THE BAND.  I’M FROM UTAH, AND CURRENTLY LIVE IN SPRINGVILLE, UTAH. AND WHAT DID I HAVE FOR BREAKFAST? A LITTLE BAR THAT I GOT FOR FREE FROM CMJ.  I TOOK A BUNCH OF THOSE.

Stuart

Stuart Maxfied, Photographed in New York City, 2014

AARON ANDERSON

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I’M AARON AND I PLAY THE DRUMS IN FICTIONIST.  AND I HAD SOME OF JACOB’S MUFFIN.

Aaron

Aaron Anderson, Photographed in New York CIty 2014

JACOB JONES

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I’M JACOB.  I’M FROM SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, AND I HAD SOME WATER AND ORANGE JUICE FOR BREAKFAST.

Jacob

Jacob Jones, Photographed in New York City 2014

BRANDON KITTERMAN

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BRANDON KITTERMAN.  WHAT DID I HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?  NOTHING.

Brandon

Brandon Kitterman, Photographed in New York CIty, 2014

ROBBIE CONNOLLY

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MY NAME IS ROBBIE AND I SING AND PLAY GUITAR.  I’M FROM SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, AND I LIVE IN PROVO NOW…I ATE A GIANT QUICHE AND AN ALMOND CROISSANT.

Robbie 2

Robbie Connolly, Photographed in New York City, 2014

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VNDL Q&A – STARING FICTIONIST &

Dave Roberts (Tour Manager), Andrew Maxfield (Band Manager) & Caitlin Connolly (Social Media).

Stuart Maxfield:  I’m Stu.  I play the bass and sing in the band.  I’m from Utah, and currently live in Springville, Utah.  And what did I have for breakfast?  A little bar that I got for free from CMJ.  I took a bunch of those.

Aaron Anderson:  I’m Aaron and I play the drums in Fictionist, and I had some of Jacob’s muffin.

Jacob Jones:  It was pretty dry, right?

Aaron:  It was pretty dry.

Jacob Jones:  I’m Jacob.  I’m from Sacramento, California, and I had some water and orange juice for breakfast.

Geez—you’re all gonna die on me in 30 minutes!

Robbie Connolly: My name is Robbie and I sing and play guitar.  I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah, and I live in Provo now.  And I won’t die on you because I ate a giant quiche and an almond croissant.

Nicely Done.

Dave Roberts:  Dave.  I’m not in the band.  I tour manage the band.  I’m from Jersey but I live in Utah now.

Andrew Maxfield:  I’m Andrew, older brother of Stewart, and I manage the band.

Caitlin Connolly:   Caitlin Connolly, social media, and I’m [Robbie’s] wife.

Dave, Caitlin, Andrew—when someone comes up to you and asks you what Fictionist’s sound is like, what are you inclined to say first?

Andrew:  A recent reviewer said that they are “The MGMT update of Peter Gabriel.” So that’s a pretty good way to answer it. We like to say were like Gabriel in a garage.

Robbie: A lot of people have been asking us what was intentional, what did we do on purpose, and I think we kind of just experimented with a lot of different things and happened to work with a producer that had some new keyboards and instruments, so I think those things ended up changing the sound a little bit, as well as our fascinations.  So it wasn’t exactly deliberate, as far as [sounding like those] other artists, but we do like those other artists, so it’s a compliment to hear that.

Stuart:  Robbie has a raspy voice so I think people are inclined to say Gabriel or Phil Collins, or someone like that.

Along those same lines, what are some of the bands or inspirations, instruments, environments, experiences, etc. that you were inspired by and that you really wanted to be sure you injected into your own sound?

Stuart:  We don’t play soul music by the sound of it, but I heard a definition of soul being, “Something out of nothing.” And my own little spin on that is, “Making the most of the least.”  We recorded this album at our homes, primarily—at my house and at Robbie’s— and our producer gave us a lot of flexibility working that way, and it was really that.  We had some limitations working at our houses and not being in a really decked-out studio but we embraced that, and we let some of those limitations become the strengths of the record.  So some of the more grungy sounds—Robbie mentioned the keyboards; he found one of them in his dad’s dental office.  It’s nothing special but we figured out every creative way we could possibly use that keyboard.  So stuff like that. It was trying to maximize the skills and talents that we had and the instruments that we had, and that kind of became a defining quality of the record that we made.

Jacob:  I don’t know if you want to get into this at all, but with our Atlantic signing and the album not going the way we wanted it to and parting ways with them, I felt like that was really influential in the way we recorded and what instruments we used, especially with the keyboards.   When we were doing our Atlantic release, [Atlantic] was like, “It has to sound like this.”

So the direction of your album with Atlantic during your time with them was largely dictated by them and not you?

Jacob: Atlantic and our producer.   It’s not like it was forced upon us, but it didn’t feel as organic as we wanted to. So I think what we used [on this album] was very much about, “Okay, it doesn’t matter what we’re going to use, if it’s cool it’s cool.”  Instead of thinking, “Oh we have to use a certain thing because there’s an ‘industry standard.'”  And not to say that there is an “industry standard,” but our producer kind of had that mindset.  So I think that this was a very relaxed setting.  It was like, “Let’s do whatever we think sounds cool.”  It was the breath of fresh air after Atlantic.

Aaron: And just to add to that, we also didn’t have studio time that we were paying for, and so it was just a more relaxed environment.  We had the freedom to try anything.

Which is what it should be—

Aaron: Exactly, right?

If it’s okay I’d like to talk a bit about your experience with Atlantic.  I’m sure every new artist who works with a big label like that expects to be molded a bit, and in some, if not all, cases I’m sure there’s the fear that they’ll lose creative control and identity completely.  After your experience with Atlantic, can you talk about what you learned about the importance of standing your ground as an artist and how to actually do that?

Robby: For me, you touched on it with that last bit when you asked about the lesson that you learned from it, because I think at first when people come along and say they want to join your team you’re like, “Oh cool, this is going to be great!” My personality tends to be overly optimistic about things, and I always think, “Oh yeah this is going to be awesome.”  But the overall learning experience I had was, “No. I really need to control what’s happening with my art.”  And not overly control it but keep tabs on it, and make sure that everything is going the way that it needs to in order for it to be the best.

And how do you do that without also hurting your chances? Can you?  I mean, every young artist or professional risks getting into a situation where they feel that kind of pressure and are too afraid to stand their ground when they feel taken advantage of.  What should you really do in a situation like that? 

Stuart: For me there is something to be said about moving forward with a reasonable, unanimous voice. With the Atlantic scenario—and I should say that that whole thing said more about the industry at large that it did Atlantic—we could just feel the fear and the uneasiness at that level, that everybody’s worried about getting fired, everybody’s worried about making money and no one knows how to do it in music, so it’s scary.  But during that situation, I think one of the things that was hard on the band creatively was that it caused divisions among us. You have a sort of “higher-up” validating one person and probably de-validating another, and everybody wants to move forward but you don’t know how to do that unless you have this consensus among the artists themselves.  And so for me that was the danger. It’s the way you bring in the strong outside opinions that start messing with the internal chemistry of a group.

Devaluing a certain individual or individuals in a band is such a fucked up and harmful thing to do to a band and it’s way too common.

Stuart:   Right.  And so now, one of the first things to sort of be restored to us after parting ways [with Atlantic] and doing it the way we were meant to do it, maybe, is there’s a whole lot more harmony in the band. We’re able to make decisions confidently. If there’s a great song we all agree it’s a great song, we all want to move forward with it, and we all want to play it, rather than being stuck with something that we don’t feel passionately about.

And if you don’t mind me asking, did you part with Atlantic on your own terms at all or did they just drop you?

Stuart: No. They dropped us.

Do you ever wonder what would have happened it you’d just done it on your terms if they would’ve been really happy with the product, versus trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?

Stuart: Yeah, totally.

Andrew: To punctuate that idea, Atlantic dumped what seemed like to us an enormous amount of cash on an album with an A-list producer and tons of studio time and lots and lots of post-production; and it was an album that they couldn’t figure out what to do with and that the band didn’t even like.  And we just did—on a fraction, just a tiny, tiny fraction of the same budget—the album that the band and the fans of the band are crazy for, and I think it just underlines the mystery of the production process, where it does have to come out of the right place, from the soul of the band.  And it also needs to reach a lot of viewers, so if you can figure out how to get both of those things working then you’ve got it made.

So what is the ideal music industry moving forward?  There are some people who think it might just go back to the days of Motown, where you’re all signed with a certain group, sing on a ton of albums, make a decent living and live happily in the suburbs. It’s not Jay-Z or Beyonce, but you’re making a living by banding together.  Where do you think it’s headed?

Aaron: I think it has to be musician driven. And you’ve heard this a thousand times before, but it has to come from the musicians and not the label.  And the state of the music industry right now is that everybody is so scared to make a move that their model is, “Just ride the wave.”  They hear a band on the radio and then try to take another band and make them sound like that. In fact, when we were recording, when we showed them our songs, what we heard was, “That’s cool, but can you make it a little bit more like that Lumineers song?” And that was the big single on the radio [at the time], and we were like,  “That’s not us at all—no way.” And that’s the model of the music industry. They try to mimic what’s going on. But I think good art always involves taking a risk. Bands that have made it the past are different and they’re unique and it came from the heart.  It’s not somebody telling them what to play. And so it’s hard for a band to break out in that environment where that’s really hard to do.

Jacob: Not to disagree with you—I know we’re not interviewing each other—but hasn’t that been the music industry all along? When Radiohead came out, didn’t everyone want to replicate that? Didn’t everyone want to replicate the grunge thing when Nirvana became big?  Didn’t all the labels—

Aaron: But here’s the difference.  They took a risk on Nirvana to begin with.  So Nirvana was able to exist because [someone] took a risk on them.

The music industry has been undergoing radical changes since then.  And I think it’s very easy to argue that all the changes have hurt not just the industry but music itself, somehow.  People say that music is dead or dying, that it’s not what it used to be.  That’s arguable, but somehow it does feel different.   Every generation thinks that way, that they’ve really lost something, some kind of magic.  When I grew up music did feel like magic.  When my parents grew up they describe sitting down to listen to Sgt. Peppers for the first time like it was the event of a century.  I’d like to see music get back to that! But I don’t know—do you think it’s different now?  Do people have the same relationship now to music that they did, say, in the 90s or the 60s?

Stuart:  Well it’s so available now that [music] is just becoming this in-and-out thing.

Jacob: I thought about that too, like, that aspect of the music industry. The other day we were on our flight here and—it’s funny that you bring that up— we were watching this documentary on VH1 and it was hilarious because it was about the British revival of metal in the late 70s and 80s; and it was talking about this huge revival and how Iron Maiden came out and it was just like this huge wave, this huge thing that happened, and part of me was like, “Why can’t this happen again!? Why can’t there be a movement?!”—

Aaron:  He really wants metal to come back, apparently—

[Everyone laughs]

Jacob: Can I comment about your Motown comment earlier?  Getting back to the Motown thing, we’re all from Provo Utah, essentially, the area surrounding Provo. And you would be surprised, maybe, but there is what feels like, to me, a Motown community that has developed. We all play on a lot of records and a lot of artists come out of Provo. All of us are kind of studio musicians by night and a lot of bands—The Moth And The FlameNeon Trees—come from Provo—Imagine Dragons has their roots in Provo—so it’s actually a really strange thing.   We’re all surviving as musicians, believe it or not, even though technically our band is not huge-huge-huge, but the way we are doing that is through community, to a great extent. We have banded together and we are jumping in on each other’s records, and so there is a movement in Provo, an artistic movement, something that has to do with art/rock or post-rock, or something like that. And I don’t know how it is in other towns but I do see that happening.  I see us sticking together and slugging it out and living in the suburbs.  And I don’t think there’s a Jay-Z in Utah.

Dave: One of the things that I’ve seen is, it seems like in the 90s and early 2000’s labels had driven a wedge between the fans and the artist to control and capitalize on that; and I think that’s what we’re getting back to.  You know there’s a tremendous amount of social tools where bands can connect with their fans and I think that’s the missing piece. It’s going to be the fans and the musicians driving to music, not the label executives driving what they think the fans want.

I think the big question isn’t, Can bands connect?  But, Can bands make a living?

Dave: Right.  Because the label is really just a bank financing the bands doing what they want to do. There’s a tremendous amount of tools and platforms online now that are connecting us—like Bandcamp, where bands can directly sell to fans and try to monetize their own stuff and do what they want to.

Andrew:  In my mind the Sgt. Pepper’s example and the Nirvana example are related because pre-digital everything was scarce. If you wanted to hear Sgt. Pepper’s you had to pull the vinyl out of the sleeve and put it on the record player and drop the needle. And it just wasn’t hitting you from a thousand angles all the time. And Nirvana, they could get off the ground by selling 5,000 records and then 10,000 records and then 20,000 records.  I mean, the economics worked.  And post-digital, iTunes’s got more than 60 million tracks, and you keep asking yourself, “What’s the incremental value of one more track?”  But I think, at the same time, the way I thought about it is in 1995 everybody wished they were a record label because that’s where all the connections were and that’s where all the capital was, and they had the whole market in their grasp—and at every angle.  In 2005 everybody wished they were iTunes because all-of-a sudden the control shifted, and it was the distributor that mattered so much.  And I think in 2015 everybody’s gonna want to be artists. They’re gonna want to be a Fictionist or something, but it has to be a self-contained art enterprise where you have the skills in-house and the connections in-house to make all the stuff happen. And then you have to have access to capital, too; but the boundaries have just shifted every five-to-ten years and in pretty dramatic ways.  So I think what makes music scarce today is the live interaction with the artist versus getting the vinyl.  And we’ve got to figure out how to manufacture—manufacture is the wrong word—create really impressive, beautiful, important, scarce experiences with people because that’s what creates a sense of value. In their minds and in our hearts and in the way they experience the art. So that’s what were trying to do here, figure out that same thing:  how do you get the connections and the capital wrapped around the artist as the business?

I want to ask you more about what’s changed about the way we experience music.  The most formative album for me was Pink Floyd’s, The Wall.   I used to listen to that thing front-to-back, and it was like being transported into a totally different environment/world/culture and it was a remarkable thing, it was a life-changing experience.  Post-digital, the way we listen to music seems to have really changed because we listen to single tracks now instead of full albums.  Musicians don’t even seem to be writing with that intention anymore.  Do you agree?  Do you think the album is dead or dying?  And if it is, are we losing something of real personal value because of it?

Robbie:  I just read an article this week saying that the year 2014 is the first year since the whole system started in the 70s that there’s not an album going platinum.  Not even the best artists.  So that’s proof that the album doesn’t really matter as much as it did.
Jacob:  That album for me, that first experience, was Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.  It was one of those experiences like you’re talking about.  It’s that album experience where you have to listen to the whole thing—I can’t just listen to one track off that album.  And not to throw it off-topic, but is it the musicians that are turning it into a non-album thing?  Because I personally feel like there are still great albums coming out, like Fleet Foxes.  Their first album, I can’t listen to one track off that, I have to listen to the whole thing.   It may not be The Wall experience like you described, but I feel musicians can still make great albums where people want to listen to the whole thing.

Stuart: I have this funny memory. When I started listening to music, really falling in love with it, the CD existed and CDs allowed you to skip tracks. And I just remember that it would drive my dad bonkers because he’s a record guy. And for him it was like, “Son, we’re putting on Earth, Wind &  Fireand we will listen to Side A, and then, when we’re done, we’re going to flip it over and listen to side B.  And that’s how we listen to music.”  You know?! And I would skip through everything on the CD player and he would just yell out, “Let it play! You got to let it play!” But I think even just growing up with CDs, I remember my first experience with music was like, “Oh this is cool,” —it was just me and a bunch of friends in a basement listening to Stone Temple Pilots. And I had the CD, put it in, cranked it, and I was like, “Hell yeah!” And we didn’t listen to the whole record because we had ADD already; my generation, it had already set in to the point where I don’t even think I knew what a record experience was, to be perfectly honest, even in my generation—except for Jacob, who’s cooler than everyone else.   I’m being totally honest.  Most of us grew up, you know, and we’d listen to a song we liked and then skip to the next song we liked, and then skip to another artist we liked.  I’m not saying that’s better; it actually makes me sad thinking about it, but yeah…maybe making great records is getting harder because there are fewer musicians that are having that “Wall” experience that you’re talking about.

A question I always like to ask artists is, What is your biggest fear?  What fear are you’re up against all of the time as an artist and how do you overcome it?

Aaron:  We are all married and most of us have kids and we’re all trying to be musicians full-time.   Being able to support a family, in my mind—and I’m sure in all of our minds—is the greatest fear, not being able to do that, not being able to support our families. But how to overcome that?  That’s a good question. For me I think I just had to stop worrying about it; and the second that I stop worrying is when I can really be in a good creative space to create things that I can really get behind, things that allow me to keep going because I believe in them. And it actually helps overcome the fear.

Robbie:  As far as the fear of putting your art out there, I think if I’ve ever had a fear of playing new shows with people that are just totally sitting there with their arms crossed and kind of eyeing you, I think the easiest way to overcome that kind of fear is to just get more and more into the music. Every time, as we’re performing, if it starts to feel weird,  I just remember to get back to what I’m actually singing and what I’m actually playing; and once you get lost in that it doesn’t really matter what’s happening around you because you’re doing your thing.

Stuart: This is what my wife texted me before we played yesterday—and we were a little nervous because there were some people that were going to be there:   “Good luck, I wish I could be there to cheer you on, but I know you’ll do great.  Also, our happiness does not hinge on these next 20 minutes. Life will be as great, regardless.”  For me, the thing that makes art right to me is that it’s not this endless striving for world domination and success. The most beautiful pieces of art are often times when it’s made out of desperation—and not desperation for the, “Oh my God I have to pay my bills,” or, “Everybody’s gonna hate me if I fail,” but out of this intense human need to make the world right all over again. So the more art is that for me, the more rejuvenating it is. It’s kind of like a sacrament in a way; it’s a privilege to make it; it’s a privilege to make art, and if anything comes of it then that would be a bonus. We’ve all found ways to scrape by, and of course we’d love to share our music with the world, but I found that my motivation is to continue making beautiful things that come from my life; and try to just be really thankful for the life that you have, whatever that may be, and never making it from that place of trying to be accepted—or whatever it is. I think getting dropped from Atlantic, that’s the thing that’s sort of the silver lining for me: discovering that a wonderful, beautiful life continues after you’re rejected—and in the most terrible way you can imagine…after spending two years writing songs and trying to make things right and make the best of a really difficult situation.  And discovering these songs that came out of a post-Atlantic, relaxed wonderful place.   It says something about just letting the art be about the art.

Aaron: When you stop worrying, when you let go, that’s when you find what you were trying to do all along.

Stuart: Thanks for summing up what I said in, like, seven words!

[Everyone laughs]

Brandon:  What I’ve realized after a long time is that any type of security that comes from being a doctor or lawyer—you know what I mean, you hear all the time about “non-creative fields,” and that they’re more stable.  But the more that I’ve lived the more I’ve realized how unstable all of that is. So people are scared to do something that’s a little bit more free—self-employed, basically.  In the end, I think the risk is no different. You could be just as easily fired from your job as a doctor or get a malpractice lawsuit and just be ruined, you know what I mean? There’s so much that can come your way that is out of your control, but it’s about remaining creative with your choices and with your work no matter what you’re doing.  And to me, being an artist doesn’t make any less sense than being some of these things that people think are more stable.  And the family and friends support thing, I think everybody needs that—again, regardless of what career path you’re choosing.  And I think we’re all really lucky.  Several of us are married to professional artists.  My wife is an artist. For me, it was really important to have someone—and when we got married we both knew that this is what we wanted to do, and so it’s been really important to me to have someone who understands—

Stuart:  That you’re certifiably insane—

Brandon: Exactly! We both are, but in the same way!  It’s like we both understand that there are days that one of us is going to be hating on ourselves and our abilities and art and really worried about the future, and then the other person gets to say, “Hey, look, I understand that you’re being irrational, calm down.”  It’s just really bad when both of us feel that way on the same day!

So you’ve just put out your album, which is titled, Fictionist.  What’s next for you? What are you the most excited about?

Robbie:  We are excited to play this album like crazy and promote it.  And then in the meantime, start working on the next record.

Is it scary when you finish an album and start work on new material?  I mean, do you ever think about whether or not you can do it all over again? 

Brandon: I can’t speak for Robbie and the guys that write most of the songs, but it seems to me that they’ve done enough of this, and the rest of us have done enough creative projects, where even though it’s a little scary you’re kind of like, “Okay there’s always more.” You just have to wait for it. You’ve got to work for it but it comes to you.  It’s not necessarily in your control when, but it will, no matter what you do.  And I think that, for me, that is really helpful because in the past I’ve been in a place where it’s like, “Man if this doesn’t do something then I’m screwed.”

Is there anything you want to add? 

Stuart: I would put a plug in for listening to that record that we just made, at the expense of sounding conceited or whatever.  I just feel artistically right about it. I’ve hated a lot of things that I’ve made in the past, eventually.

[Everyone laughs]

Well, it’ hard when you’ve lived with something long enough—

Stuart:  It’s like Gremlins.  It starts out as this fuzzy little thing and then it goes out into the world and comes back as this big green monster and it bites you.  But those aren’t Gremlins—and that’s what I’m telling you.  There just, like, straight up fuzzy fairies.

Brandon: For me, there have been songs that we’ve done that come back and I’m like, “Ah, man, I’m not so sure—is this good?” But the whole album…I  believe in it again when I listen to it.  And when we play it live I feel re-born into that, into [feeling] that,”Yeah, this is good.”  And if I like it then someone else in the world is going to like it.  That helps with not caring what anybody else thinks.

Well, you’re the hardest person to please, right?

Brandon:  Right!

Stuart:  Right, so we’ve already done the impossible.

This interview with Fictionist was recorded in New York City during the CMJ Music Marathon, October 2014.  Their self titled album, Fictionist, is available here on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/fictionist/id918691557

Artist:  Fictionist

Website: http://www.fictionist.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/fictionistnoise

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/FictionistNoise

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuUTClopR10Yf8CXdk0pBdg

Instagram:  http://instagram.com/fictionistnoise

One Response

  1. Matthew

    All they need is one season of going from music festival to music festival or one tour opening for a powerhouse like imagine dragons and they’ll become a household name.
    Fictionist for life!

    Reply

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