Donna Fullman, a singer/songwriter based in Brighton, has just released her debut LP, Inner World. Anyone who enjoyed Donna’s previous EP, Happiness + Victory, will find a lot to enjoy on this record. In fact, anyone who likes a great female lead vocal, guitar led chilled summer vibes and a willingness to indulge their inner ‘hippy’ will enjoy this record. someofitistrue were lucky enough to see Donna play the album in its entirety at the launch show and heartily recommend you check out the live experience. For now though, let us introduce you to the lady herself:
Hi Donna – How are you, where are you and what are you doing?
Hello! I’m good thank you. I’m currently residing in Cornwall taking a few days out. I have the laptop, guitar, pad and pen. Anything could happen and also nothing. I’m open to both!
How does it feel to have released your debut album ‘Inner World’?
It’s a strange feeling of excitement, gratitude and relief! It took a year to record and much longer to write. There were times when I wondered if I’d be able to finish it at all. It’s quite something to hold the actual CD and to finally share the music.
What does the title mean – is this a peek inside the brainbox of Donna Fullman?
Ha! That’s a good one. I’m not sure about Brainbox but it certainly reflects my Inner World. Mostly I wanted to encourage the question of our collective inner worlds which I believe are far more interesting and eternal than the lives we externally represent and overvalue.
Are these all new songs written specifically for the album? There is definite sense of continuity between the songs.
Yes they were chosen and measured against the concept of Inner World – but some have been years in the making! I remember having the vocal melody for I Can’t Sleep as far back as 2006. In contrast, I wrote By The Fire whilst we were recording. At first I thought Inner World would be a song – it evolved into You Are My Love (the last track on the album) but I always knew it would be the title of the album.
Opening track, ‘By the Fire’ is a stripped back tune – why did you choose this song to open proceedings?
The whole tracklisting process was surprisingly difficult; I had a sense of wanting to get it ‘right’. Listening to the final mixes over and over again, the ear begins to ‘want’ certain tracks to follow others in a specific way. By The Fire is an invitation, at least I hoped it would invite and draw the listener in, then once round the fire – bang – the drums come in for track two – Oh The Words and you’re off…
I love when the string section comes in at the end of ‘Oh The Words’ – what other musicians did you work with on the record (assuming it is not you playing)
It really is wonderful I agree! The line-up of musicians on this record was superb. Hours of work and lots of arrangements, edits and re-recording. All captured using the finest pre-amps and vintage valve amps to capture the magic. The strings were played by my Producer Simon Janes on Cello and Andrew Stuart Buttle on Violin. I often sing the String parts and they end up as backing vocals or transposed onto strings. We laid the Cello down first. Both players were very responsive to the air and space on the tracks and worked very intuitively. I think it paid off.
Tell us a little about how you write songs
I always start with the words. I’m a writer first and foremost. although my writing process is certainly changing. I used to work solely with vocal melody – as my first instrument was my voice. Since gaining confidence with my guitar playing I’m writing more with the instrument. I play a Tanglewood full bodied beauty and I’ve grown to love her tone and how we merge together. It certainly adds more structure to the melody side writing with an instrument, but there are no hard and fast rules. I still consider myself a lyricist first and a musician last! My favourite instrument is a pen.
For those who follow you on Twitter we have been kept up to date on the recording process – is this something you enjoyed?
Sharing anything is always enjoyable and should be encouraged! Yes, the whole process was a wonderful spectrum of sheer terror from the first sessions, to laying down final vocals, all the way to the utter joy and satisfaction hearing the local choir sing You Are My Love. I hope I shared some of the reality of recording and gave an insight into the process – that’s the stuff I’m interested in – how things really work and happen.
‘Restlessness’ opens with a great lyric, ‘Homeless, penniless and hungry for success’. Is this lyric based in fact at all? If so, is any of it still true?
It is based on truth. When I write I write for us all and yet it’s always personal. That’s what connects. Being ‘Homeless’ is a reflection of being one of the many who cannot afford to own their own homes – renting and knowing that the landlord has power over the home really bothers me (‘The ladder, it gets taller, I feel smaller and depressed’). I had a flat and I sold it to pursue my career in music and to pay for the making of this album. Here’s to transforming the second and third part – penniless and hungry for success! I also see that life has many riches beyond bricks and mortar and pounds and pence.
How would you describe your music?
Honest, engaging and relaxing. A labour of Love.
Once, when I saw you live, you described yourself as a “hippy” – is this coming out in ‘Emerald Eyes’ when you sing, ‘The cars and the money don’t mean much honey / Peace in your heart is a good place to start’?
I can’t deny it, I’m a total Hippy and proud! I would love to go back to the 1960s and be wild. Failing that, I’d just like to save the planet.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
After listening intensively to the mixes and during recording – I had to stay away from all other music for a while to give my ears a rest. It sounds daft but the silence is all I wanted to hear. Now I’m listening to music again: Willy Mason, Dawn Landes and Jenny Lewis – all on the iPod. Vinyl it’s Dylan, T Rex and some old Soul stuff.
It was Bob Dylan’s birthday yesterday. What are your three favourite Dylan albums?
Desire, Bringing It All Back Home, Blood on the Tracks.
Where can people find out more about you and your music?
The main website is the best source with free downloads, blog, gig listings and video. You can also buy the Album there and I will sign and post it with a postcard message direct. The best way is to join the mailing list – which simply means I email the best bits plus exclusive offers. Facebook and Twitter are also good for interaction and speedy updates and other trivia!
Donna has a few gigs lined up:
THE ALBERT (Brighton) – June 20th with Conrad Vingoe + Dylan Robert Walshe, £7
BRIGHTON BALLROOM (Brighton) – June 21st – supporting Jack Savoretti, £7
MONTO WATER RATS (LONDON) - July 26th - supporting DAWN LANDES, £8/£10 on the door
Keep up with all things Donna Fullman:
Thank you to Bob Russel Photography for the use of his photo of Donna http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bob-Russell-Photography/216781678335227