Pat Fulgoni: ‘The music industry has been through a torrid time’

Legendary Huddersfield musician Pat Fulgoni on how Brexit and the pandemic have ravaged the music industry and why he’s singing both the blues and drum and bass.

Pat Fulgoni on stage. Picture: Mal Whichelow Photography
Pat Fulgoni on stage. Picture: Mal Whichelow Photography

Huddersfield musician Pat Fulgoni says the pandemic has ‘annihilated’ a lot of the music industry and revealed it’s incredibly hard for new musicians to earn a living these days.

Pat should know as he’s championed Yorkshire – and more specifically Huddersfield – music across the world for decades.

He got through the pandemic which was an incredibly tough time for him but he’s always diversified to survive and now, hopefully, will start to thrive once again. He’s beloved as a blues artist with a stellar rock voice but has now found himself at the forefront of the drum and bass scene.

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    For he’s singing on several newly released singles and albums with more to follow and he’s got a summer of festivals and gigs lined up for both blues and drum and bass.

    Pat, who has played Glastonbury four times with Kava Kava and once with legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel’s favourite dub band Zion Train, said: “Lockdown made it a pretty grim two years and a lot of the music industry was annihilated which has led to a lot of mental health problems among people who work in the creative industries.”

    Pat says Brexit has also taken a toll, making it virtually impossible for UK bands to tour in Europe.

    The amount of red tape bands now have to get through to gig in Europe is overwhelming so Pat is an ambassador for a pressure group called Carry On Touring which is pushing the UK Government to negotiate a free cultural work permit that gives touring professionals visa-free travel throughout the 27 EU states.

    Pat said: “The music industry has been through a torrid time and lots of bands are now really struggling financially due to Brexit and the difficulty in touring. Music used to be the UK’s third largest export.”

    Multi-talented Pat also plays keyboards and trumpet which he describes as sounding “like a p***ed Mexican football fan” but he’s certainly better than that as indie bands keep on hiring him, including world-renowned Embrace.

    Pat’s latest project is the Pat Fulgoni Blues Experience and he has several gigs lined up at festivals and other venues. You can see them at Smile on Wakefield Road, Aspley Huddersfield, on Thursday, August 11, at 8pm.

    The band is also playing a free gig at Grayston Unity bar, Wesley Court in Halifax town centre at 4pm on Sunday, August 7.

    Pat said: “It’s sad but blues now really resonates with people due to the tough times we are going through and it looks like things are only going to get worse.”

    Pat was born in London and first headed north to study a Humanities degree at the former Huddersfield Polytechnic in the 1990s.

    He got into the music scene here, formed the band Kava Kava and never left. The six-piece band was signed to record label Delerium, released three albums and toured Europe, the USA and China. Although the band went into hiatus a while back, a label called Cherry Red has bought the back catalogue and made the first two Kava Kava albums available again. They are You Can Live Here and Supalube. The band’s third album, Maui, was released on Pat’s own Chocolate Fireguard label.

    Kava Kava songs became known worldwide as Pat cannily managed to get them onto TV and film soundtracks such as the Golden Globe nominated series Weeds starring actress Mary-Louise Parker and a series called Dirt starring Friends star Courteney Cox.

    The Kava Kava song Tic was on the soundtrack to surfer TV drama John From Cincinnati alongside the likes of Peter Gabriel, U2, Bob Dylan, Muse, David Byrne, Kasabian, Elvis Costello and John Coltrane.

    “It helped to boost sales,” said Pat. “The old models of trying to get your songs heard in front of music industry executives don’t work anymore. You have to think differently. Getting songs on TV series can sometimes be even more beneficial than getting them on the radio.

    “You have to be fiercely DIY these days to get your music out there. I dread to think what it’s like for a new band starting out now and the obstacles they have to overcome.”

    Despite his decades of experience, Pat admits to still getting nervous each time he goes on stage.

    “I have to force myself to do it,” he said. “All credit to anyone who steps up to the mic, it takes some doing. It’s often the most talented ones who are riddled with self-doubt.”

    Kava Kava was described by magazine NME as “what King Crimson would sound like if George Clinton from Funkadelic joined them.”

    Pat has always dedicated himself to promoting Huddersfield bands everywhere he can in the world. He’s done this most notably at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas (known as SXSW) where he ran a Yorkshire Showcase for several years.

    Pat explains: “It started when Kava Kava played the festival and I realised there were other bands from the UK but none from Yorkshire. I thought ‘I’m not having that’ so did something about it.”

    Pat’s also pushed Huddersfield bands by having compilation albums made called Sounds From A Big Town and handed them to music industry connections at conventions and festivals.

    “Some bands ended up with quite a lot of work from that so it was a very worthwhile project,” he said.

    Pat’s music tastes are eclectic or, as he puts it: “When I walk into a record store I have no idea which section to go to first.”

    Although known as a blues and rock singer, Pat first became involved in drum and bass by accident around 15 years ago and he’s become something of a legend within the genre ever since.

    He did a drum and bass karaoke session in China, fuelled he says in part by booze which led him into singing Isley Brothers and Britney Spears classics. But music executives were there and a major drum and bass label called Hospital Records liked what they heard and asked him to do vocals on a drum and bass track.

    It just grew from there with Pat doing the vocals on two singles from Austrian electronic drum and bass duo Camo and Krooked – one of the tracks called All Night featured on a Big Brother final night and was nominated for best single in the Drum And Bass Arena Awards. It was later reworked by Austrian classical musician and composer Christian Kolonovits and an 80 piece Viennese orchestra for the Red Bull Symphonic album which is a mix of classic meets drum and bass.

    This year Pat’s worked with Murdock, a musician at the very heart of Belgium’s drum and bass scene who released his single called Come Together featuring Pat before a 30,000-strong audience at a massive open-air drum and bass festival called Rampage. The single has had quite a lot of play on Radio One.

    Pat has just recorded a single and an album track with Californian drum and bass crew Bachelors of Science.

    He also does his best to help up-and-coming artists, adding: “I’ve just given some vocals to some young drill music artists in Spain. I hope they’re not going to land me in trouble.”

    Pat’s had some phenomenal reviews over his career but we’ll leave you with this one from Billboard magazine in the US which simply states: “Pat Fulgoni could sing a pearl from its oyster.”