Promise Keeper

Skype interview by Yoeri Wegman & Maija Jussila

Just before having the pleasure to host the charming Promise Keeper, we cut in on a seemingly lovely day in London to catch up with William Fussell, the man behind the moniker. His ‘mini-LP’ comes out on 16 May via Atelier Ciseaux, and the first single ‘Endless Motion’ dropped yesterday. We can’t get enough of the guy and his flawlessly wispy pop melodies, so we keep inviting him to come back. Catch Promise Keeper tomorrow, 17 March, at s105 (De School), Amsterdam or in Rotterdam’s Wunderbar at WORM on Sunday, 19 March.

In an interview you had before your performance in Malta, there was a quote saying: ‘I have yet to sit down to write a song with more than a nonsensical melody in my head.’ So how is that working out for the new EP?

When I was writing the songs I was talking about before, a lot of it’s done by chance. It’s writing pop music through like rolling dice or like flipping a coin kind of idea. So if I come up with a melody and a verse and I put them together, rather than sitting down the computer and writing it all out. I switch things around by basically putting it all into a graph and I’ll flip a coin or roll the dice and depending on the numbers and letters in the graph, it’ll kind of determine what happens in the song. So this goes for anything from lyrics, to vocal effects to actual arrangements of the music. So I’m not truly arranging the song myself, it kinda arranges itself in a way.

I did a really shortened version of that when they asked that question in Malta. And it sounds kinda funny when [the quote is] singled out like that. But there’s more to it than that. I find a simplified melody and then I’ll put it to kind of like a test that will make it into its own self. But it’s interesting, because it’s supposed to be like pop music and it’s not like ambience or like a composition, like a lot of that’d been done in the past. It comes out like a pop song because the melodies are Pop oriented.

What’s your writing process like and how do you keep the ‘sauce’ if you’ve been working on a song for a while?

Well, the songs kinda change a little bit when I play them live, you know? When I write a song, it’ll probably go anywhere from a week, sometimes even less than a week, to 2 or 3 months to finish the song. I’ve gone through some songs and just completely rearranged the whole system and change them from the beginning. But I guess I haven’t run into that brick wall yet, maybe it’s coming soon. We’ll see how the tour goes. I don’t think so. I feel quite happy with the songs, I’m proud of them, they mean a lot. Because they’re like some of the first songs I’ve written by myself too. So I really believe in them, to me the sauce isn’t evaporating in the pan. It’s still all there with the unions.

How is life in the U.K. different from livin’ in the U.S.? And how do you experience the differences in the music industry?

It’s much different. I feel pretty happy and lucky to be where I am right now, because of all the nasty shit that’s going down right now in America. So I feel really stoked not to be having to deal with that everyday. In all honesty it kinda feels like a whole new life, because I moved here and I moved away from, well not necessarily negative influences, but also moved with the person I love, so it kinda changed how I live my life. It doesn’t mean we still don’t get up to, you know, bad stuff. We’re being much happier in general, we have a more fulfilling life being over here. It’s amazing how much it opened my eyes and how much I’ve learned about life, culture and everything. That’s a simple answer, I guess that Americans have a really hard time learning about anything other than themselves. So, I guess that was a big part of coming over here and learning so much about this whole idea, how things work. The system is much different for music too I think. I’m really happy that I get to come and play different countries every week if I want to. That’s such an amazing thing, that you don’t get when you’re in North America. You can do different cities, but it’s all kinda the same. Whereas here everything is distinctly different.

That’s what I hear from a lot of musicians. I’ve only been to the States a few times so I don’t know how it’s like there, except from what I hear. They also say how you get treated is totally different here as opposed to when you’re touring in the US.

So much better! It’s always like you show up in a place and get lucky if the sound guy is nice to you [in the US]. Here they’ll pay you, put you up and it’s a much better situation in general for music scene, I think. I mean it’s also different because you kind of have follow different procedures. Also there’s a big difference between European scene and UK music scene. And the industry in general and how that all works. I think the UK might be a bit more picky you know. It’s still like that everywhere I suppose, I found it a bit hard to expand in the UK versus how easy it has been to meet people and have like a generally much better time when I’m touring in the EU than the UK.

Promise Keeper plays s105 (De School), Amsterdam tomorrow, 17 March and Rotterdam’s Wunderbar at WORM on Sunday, 19 March.