Question for you; what happens when one song, or style of music, “accidently” fits over another? How does it happen at those weird moments of mistaken genius when one song gets played over another, like having the radio on while having a favorite track as a ringtone blaring, and suddenly a listener captured a particular type of magic, even if it was for a split second? It’s almost as easy as that, but at the same time finding a golden match between songs, sounds, or notes makes it less likely when intentionally looking for it. That’s a job that many interested in fusing music have, but when you’ve multiple projects dedicated to it, there is never a wasted premise; Enter Jacob Belk, the face behind The Fentons and his newest venture, Gluum.
As The Fentons, a project that can be traced back to the 2018′ album “Throw It At The Wall/C Wut Styxz” and EP “No Promises”, Jacob produces what could be felt as a multi-leveled melting pot of samples and curation that has something for everyone. The tracks, rather than the albums that encase them, dictate their own routes in a way that speaks to the artist’s wavering over feeling too settled, keeping listeners open to the possibilities the next song might present. This overall thought is not lost when switching gears into producing for Gluum, where the field of experimentation is narrowed, yet the blending that happens with The Fentons is what enables Jacob to be more direct with a consistent tone or theme with the latter, being the fully fleshed out idea from the canvas of the former.
Gluum’s first launch into the musical stratosphere begins with 2021’s “A Gluumy Prom”, a 3-chapter EP that portrays the adolescent event of the season in a toned down, yet more honest soundtrack that could attract either sides of the energy spectrum. The highlight of the track trio is “Napoleon Dynamite (Rokk Ur World)”, a homage to the film that satirized the high school experience in a small town, but like the track itself, stays upbeat despite other feelings and actions happening in real time, including the lyrics blended in for effect and nuance. The first and last track, while share much of the same cores, play differently off of the central one, with the first making one think of how short time can seem when preparing for an incredibly hyped up event, versus “Proms Over.” where every feeling after the main event disperses in a slow climax.
While Gluum is the newest of Jacob’s projects, The Fentons still gets love that are shown in a trio of tracks that dropped as well this month. “Funko Pop! Pop! Pop!” carried carries rock melodies with dance-pron synth chords, “Put Some Hazelnut Shoe Gaze On” keeps an urban vibe in its styling while maintaining an up-tempo paired with an interchangeable guitar and piano, and last but not least, “She Loved Me Not III” continues the side-story off of 2019’s “FNTN” in which this musical chapter speeds up with a more pop-ish tone, taking off from the lo-fi effects of the previous entry.
With both of these projects in play, there is an incredibly fortunate in that nothing, even when placed on the side for further study, gets left behind in the creative process. Jacob Belk not only uses his time and effort wisely under each monkier, but like how finding a perfect match in love can be, he keeps on the pursuit with both eyes open while not letting new ideas or inspirations brought before his work pass him by.
While navigating through the catalogue, we decided to see what was behind the multiple masks from the man himself;
Q1.) In just a few sentences, who or what is Gluum, and who are The Fentons?
A.) Gluum is my main artist project; I plan to push the boundaries of what indie pop music can be. My main influences for that are generally nu disco and more retro sounding sounds, but mixed with some modern hip hop flair and elements. For production, the main influences are Gorillaz and Kanye West, and for songwriting definitely a more Talking Heads or Twenty One Pilots approach. It seems to me music has become very formulaic, and though some folks are blurring genres, it all seems a bit too safe; so I’m going to really try to see what I can get away with honestly!
The Fentons is my incredibly weird take on indie dance. I sometimes just wish I was better at sampling things, so it’s more or less just a creative outlet for sounds I wouldn’t place on the gluum project or any other artists I produce for. I pride myself on being the genuine bizarre “I push buttons; you push boundaries” with music, and what better way to showcase your portfolio? I also figured that The Fentons would become sort of like the Gorillaz, with folks jumping in and out of it for all sorts of collaborations; especially if the vibes didn’t match the brand for their main projects.
Q2.) As the Fentons, listeners will find that you started your journey with the album “Throw It At The Wall/C Wut Styxz” and the EP “No Promises”. Going off of the 2018 album title, what philosophies do you take into your creative process?
A.) I literally take sounds, and throw them together to see what really fits, and what doesn’t (hence the C Wut Styxz). Sometimes you need intensity in a more mellow pop or R&B track, so sometimes a synthwave bass or some brass and woodwind chops are what could really bring out an arrangement. Sometimes you just need a wall of sound, other times sparse concepts, often times you just have to have fun and make something. I try really hard to not allow for general norms, or the idea of being perfect stop me from experimenting with sounds, genres, or mixes. The only one judging you and your art is you; you have to detach yourself.
Q3.) Looking at the artist pages for both music projects, it’d be easy to assume that this is a solo journey. Have you collaborated with others in your work? If so, who, and who would you love to work with locally that you know of?
A.) The Fentons has a mixtape called The Carlos Tapes. where I collaborated with a few friends to see what kind of serious and goofy things we could get away with; the only one with an artist project still ongoing is Alleyne Phoenix. Otherwise, it’s been a solo journey. As for future collaborations, I have a couple musicians I have in mind to try and get in the studio to lay drums for me; or if it were to have a duet or something, definitely Alexa Jenson or Echo The Author. If I could somehow finesse my way into getting The World’s Largest to lay down some synths for me, I know I would have a killer EP. But truly would be down to work with anyone local!
Q4.) Where do you draw most of your inspiration from when developing tracks for either project? Do you have a different thought process when approaching each identity?
A.) For The Fentons, it is very loosely structured. I feel that because it’s such an abstract and diverse catalog of music I’ve ended up releasing, I can pretty much put whatever I want out on it and that’s okay. If someone vibes with a particular track, that’s great! If not, great! I think because Gorillaz and Kanye kind of did whatever they wanted to, and were successful, that’s my main inspiration.
For Gluum, I try to base the songs around the current climate, and my own personal emotions at the time. A Glummy Prom. was made because 2020 was such a terrible year, and I wanted to make a lofi pop vibe that made someone giggle and forget about their troubles for a short while. For future releases, I plan to just stick as much to an indie sound as possible; whether that’s pop or hip hop or punk. But usually, the basis is formed around the records I have loved over the years and want to put my own spin on.
Q5.) How’ve you spent your time outside of the music process during 2020?
A.) Working that glorious part time job like everyone else does; or taking pictures of various expression tunnels around North Carolina. I’ve been a fan of street art ever since I played JSRF as a young lad. That and sometimes binging on terrible shows.
Q6.) Where have you gotten to perform in our scene? Which venue are you most interested in playing at post-Covid?
A.) I have yet to play anywhere, so I’m on the hunt to see where exactly I should debut post-Covid (and to see if my catalog can be performed live as a one-man band). But my heart is set on the Underground for sure; and absolutely would kill to perform somewhere in the Plaza.
Q7.) Last Question; RF20XX is half ‘n’ half music and gaming. What are your favorite games, or what was something you loved to play back when?
A.) I’m absolute trash; I am a die-hard fan of the Kingdom Hearts and Fire Emblem series. I mainly enjoy a good solid RPG since you get the most bang for your buck in playtime of a first run through, but I do love to mindlessly obliterate zombies on Left 4 Dead or something akin to Portal. If anyone is wondering, I’m a Roy main on Melee and a Joker main on Ultimate; and the greatest game of all time will always hands down be Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door.
Both Gluum & The Fentons reside under their own banners via social media, follow up on the processes of each as more comes in 2021!
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