As a band leader, frequent collaborator, indie label boss, composer of music for US TV shows and organiser of Yorkshire’s music embassy at the South By South West festival in Texas, Pat Fulgoni has been many things in his time.
His latest enterprise is a little closer to home, assisting the Kirklees Music Development Project, a collective of local music organisations that are working together to form a strategy to help showcase Huddersfield’s music on a regional and national level.
The partnership group involves Cleckheaton Folk Festival, Hoot Music, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Marsden Jazz Festival, Musica Kirklees, Opera North (Kirklees Concert Season), Vinyl Tap, the University of Huddersfield Students’ Union, CeReNeM (Centre for Research in New Music) and the Music Department University of Huddersfield, The Parish and Kirklees Council.
“Obviously, having a background in delivering a few projects over the years on a Yorkshire level, it’s good news,” Fulgoni says. “It means that the local council is going to get behind this kind of activity. When I did the Yorkshire showcase [at SXSW which supported the likes of Pulled Apart By Horses and Wild Beasts] it was independent of any funding. We did it because it had to happen because the other regions seemed to be doing that kind of thing and Yorkshire wasn’t really stepping up. The project was swallowed by the Northern Powerhouse and this year in the slot that the Yorkshire showcase used to be in was a Northern Powerhouse showcase but with no Yorkshire acts.”
These days Fulgoni’s focus is on writing music for his longtime band Kava Kava and a series of collaborations with drum & bass artists. “In the past couple of weeks I’ve written a track with Lost Colours who are a Leeds band for their next album, I’ve collaborated again with Technomatic who are drum & bass legends – I was on one of their albums that was in Mixmag’s top 10 albums of the year so they’re of a real standard, I’m lucky to get work like that. And there’s Cabinet of Millionaires, which has more of a political angle, there’s a track called Theresa which there’s a rush to get out.
“There have been a couple of releases this year earlier on through Spearhead Records – a collaboration with Dexcell called Scattered Memories – and also Fokuz Records, a Dutch label, I was on their last EP by The Vanguard Project, who are really interesting, a downtempo/drum & bass production crew.”
When I did the Yorkshire showcase at SXSW it was independent of any funding. We did it because it had to happen because the other regions seemed to be doing that kind of thing and Yorkshire wasn’t really stepping up.Pat Fulgoni
The collaborations began about 10 years ago when Fulgoni was on a trip to China to explore possibilities for his band Kava Kava. “I did some karaoke with a rather important dance music A&R man, a lot of beers were involved. I was really relieved when my choice of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights was scuppered because we ran out of time but I sang a load of stuff which I really shouldn’t have and he was going ‘I’ll ring you when we get back to the UK’ and I was like ‘Yeah, right’ but he did and I ended up on a track on Hospital records who are a really big drum & bass label, they do huge events all over the world as well, and that’s how the singing on drum & bass happened and it kind of went from there. Every year I do a couple of vocals and it’s good, it gets on the radio, I sometimes get to do it live as well so that’s cool.”
This year he also launched the Pat Fulgoni Blues band, whose debut performance was at Marsh Fest in Huddersfield in aid of the Welcome Centre charity. The band, who feature John Hogg on guitar, Billy Lockwood on drums, and Keira Kenworthy on bass, are due to play at Small Seeds in Huddersfield on March 22 and The Devonshire in Sheffield on March 29. “I did a blues album in the Czech Republic, we were on breakfast TV and big blues festivals and I parked it because the musicians were over there and I was over here and I focused more on the music development work I was doing and also my own band Kava Kava,” he says. “This summer there was a food bank called the Welcome Centre, they do some great work round here, they were putting an event on in collaboration with Marsh Blues Club to raise some funds and the organisers said ‘We’ve seen your blues footage on YouTube, can we have the band?’ I said ‘It’s going to cost quite a bit to get those musicians over from the Czech Republic, I’m not sure we’d be raising much in terms of funding’. So I ended up forming a band round here to deliver that gig and we’ve done a few gigs now.
“It’s new but it’s really exciting because it’s old blues classics with a bit of Ray Charles thrown in, so I’m really enjoying that. We’ve got a few gigs lined up next year.”
His label Chocolate Fireguard is still going “loosely”, he says. “I need to find a home for an album of electronica that I’ve been chipping away at over the years and it could well come out on Chocolate Fireguard. It’s quite an expensive thing realising music sometimes, so you’ve got to be careful. I don’t want to melt it finally!” he laughs.