by manny marx
Posted on Dec 27, 2016
As 2016 comes to a close it's a time for many to reflect on the past year. If I could sum up 2016 with one word it would be "Loss". Loss as in ruin, an instance of losing, a failure to gain, and a decrease in amount, magnitude, and degree. Whether it be the loss of loved ones, cultural icons, or the loss of a political struggle–personally and to many of those who are around me–2016 was the epitome of the word. Yet, despite the unease and discomfort loss brings, we need it because it’s the catalyst for growth, change, birth, and renewal. From the undergrowth of loss's decay and in the new void its absence created, something sprouts. Yet, unlike a phoenix’s rebirth, this is something novel. Something au courant. Something like Bulla Fey.
While I write this I’m listening to Bulla Fey’s “wave ridin’ starter pack” on repeat. The remix of “Special” hits me right in the feels because of a certain special melody tucked away in the chorus.
Manny Marx: So, for starters who is Bulla Fey?
Bulla Fey: We are Dominique Nichelle, vox, and Adam Maria, writing and production. A couple of friends in Brooklyn making our way through life. Or trying.
MM: Does Bulla Fey have a particular meaning? If so, are you willing to share it? (Also what is the correct way to pronounce it?)
BF: Hmm, OK let's give it a try. "Bull - uh - feh" or bull-uh-fae . I know there is a proper way to do that stuff... (bʊl – ʌ – feɪ)... It literally means Bubble Fairies. We're named after a neo-pets game.
MM: How long have you guys been making music together? How did you meet?
BF: It's been about 2 years now. Although most of that was not making music. We were just trying to find ourselves. We met when I (Adam) had an ad floating around on Craigslist for a vocalist. Dominique was looking to buy a chair for her apartment after she moved to NY from the UK. She saw my ad and hit me up, and we got together. We immediately became friends.
MM: While we are on that topic, please, give a little background on what you were doing musically before Bulla Fey?
BF: Dominique was experimenting with musicians a bit in London, finding out that she had a voice. I was out here doing experimental projects with a band, my sister, and making beats. Totally unsure if I even wanted to do music anymore. Which is something I always feel until something or someone inspires me. Meeting Dominique inspired me to see where else it could go.
MM: What and who are your influences and inspiration when making music for Bulla Fey?
BF: Tim Burton, Florence and the Machine, Fiona Apple, Daughter, Rick Owens, taiko drums and bass. Folklore. Faeries. Magic. Mysticism. The children of the forest.
“Alive”, Bulla Fey’s first release, has garnished over 3,000 plays on SoundCloud. For context, most unsigned artists barely break 200 plays. Maybe I'm tripping but the intro and main theme of "Alive" are reminiscent of something from the 80’s cult classic Ridley Scott film Legend. Dominique's hypnotic vocals lead you through a masterfully crafted forest of trippy beats and haunting synths.
MM: What are you hoping to conjure up and elicit from the listener when you press the upload button?
BF: I don't think we are doing it to affect the listener. I don't think we're doing this to communicate. All I know is that we are searching for a feeling, something we experience in the creative process and something we don't find anywhere else which releases a trapped thing inside us. In the process of unlocking something locked, in the way that is meaningful for us, a song is recorded. And I think what is in that song is an encapsulation of the experience we have in the process, the release, the therapy of it, the acknowledgment of it. It feels real to us, it feels good, it's a kind of spiritual validation. I think it's sort of encapsulated in amber–like a mosquito in Jurassic Park that's filled with dinosaur blood–when we recorded a song. If we were being sincere and real and someone would feel that too when they hear that song, that would be amazing to us. Someone once told us that our music didn't have enough changes. And I thought, well, if we were making music for you, we'd have more changes. But we aren't. It would be similar to someone saying they are bored of me eating pepperoni pizza. So, I should surprise everyone with broccoli? But, I like pepperoni pizza. When I want broccoli I will get it. We don't care if you don't feel what we feel, really.
MM: Hands down, “Imagine Me” is my joint. “So good to be weightless, I don’t even need a space ship.” That line…it takes me somewhere. Do you have a method on how you guys write lyrics and produce the music?
BF: "Imagine Me" is the least successful of our songs. But I enjoy it very much, so thank you. I usually just start making sounds, with the sub37 or drums, or some synth thing. And if Dominique responds to it and is curious about a sound then I keep working on it. If she likes what's happening she may hum along and I will react to that hum and write.
At well over 2,000 plays, "Imagine Me", despite being the least successful song, is my personal favorite of what Bulla Fey has released so far–I have a knack for liking the unpopular. The song's composition, production, lyrics, and performance showcases how well the duo vibes together. Dominique's delivery and melodies are pensive yet have an air of aloofness. This matches well with the lyrics which are fanciful yet grounded in unyielding confidence.
MM: What has your song writing process been like so far?
BF: Mostly the back and forth during a beat with Dominique. Then when I'm alone I'll write something from the perspective of the entity or creature that speaks for the both of us. It has her voice and her face and our pain and my words. Then I can take her vocals and start to affect them, she lays down things both of what I asked for, and what I didn't. So there are surprises.
MM: You guys recently released a video for “LA BRUJA”. Is there any particular reason you chose that song?
BF: We have no budget, no anything. So it was the shortest song. And the latest song. Not much reasoning behind it aside from practicality. Because of our schedules and lack of resources, simpler is always better.
"Practicality", "lack of resources", and “simpler is better”. These terms coincide with the mantra of many in our generation. This mantra also describes the overall "sound" of Bulla Fey. Adam's abstemious use of synths and beats; even resorting to a chirping bird in one song. Verses and choruses waste no time as they seamlessly blend together and many times just when something begins to take shape, it's up and on to the next as it wisps away faerie-like. Nothing is wasted or better stated, every resource is utilized in Bulla Fey's music. Maybe Bulla Fey's free-form sound stems from the "collective conscience" created by the situation many 20 and 30 somethings are going through. Whatever the case, they have accumulated over 10 thousand plays on SoundCloud and 12 thousand more on their “LA BRUJA” video. I’d like to stress that while these numbers might pale in comparison to other "indie artists", there is no money machine or publicist behind Bulla Fey. Each one of their plays, likes, and comments are authentic; not manufactured.
MM: If you don’t mind, could you talk a bit about the song and symbolism within the video?
BF: We just imagined something natural, and something urban that was easy to film. With the birds behind the words I knew we needed some trees, so the park was fine. We had a nice drone shot thanks to our friend Cassidy Maldonado, in prospect park. The song is about the flow of someone on the verge of anxiety, someone who feels pressed to make a move and is convincing themselves of their power. Flanked by two powerful friends who created a sort of coven, or The Erinyes / Euminides from Greek myth. Also, images of ruin. I found a really old discarded photo album in an abandoned gas station that made me really sad. I knew someone was squatting in there. What brought them to that place? I needed to use it. The video is definitely about our graceful, undercurrent of hidden anxiety, born of past loss and very frequent existential wander-offs.
MM: What’s next on the Bulla Fey menu? Another video? Another track? A live show?
BF: Hmm. another video yes. Another track, yes. And then after those 2, a live show, yes. Within the next few months, I think. But we don't ever rush anything. When you push things, you hurt them. So we will let it go forward with its own power and it will let us know what's next.
MM: Anything else you'd like to say?
BF: Shout outs to our friends, our supporters, our new fans, and all the people who believe in us and enjoy what we do.