Elliott Fullam is an 18 year old, New Jersey based musician, actor and interviewer. From the age of 9, Fullam has conducted interviews with bands and musicians and shared his passion for music with the world. In that time, he has amassed a following on social media of over 300,000 followers across several platforms who all love his quirky personality and encyclopedic knowledge of music and art. Recently, the release of his first full length album, “What’s Wrong,” has propelled him to a newfound popularity. The dismal lyricism and melancholic instrumentation is a far cry from Fullam’s normally upbeat attitude. In this exclusive Q&A, Fullam answers all things music, the meaning behind “What’s Wrong,” his budding acting career and more.
@elliottfullam My birthday vinyl haul! #fyp #music #mfdoom #mitski #blackmidi #thesmiths #thedamned #bikinikill #rap #indie #rock #punk #alternative #vinyl #records #vinylcollection #recordcollection #littlepunkpeople #musicenthusiast ♬ You’ll See My Ghost – Elliott Fullam
At what age did you realize music was a passion of yours?
Ahhh man, since I can remember. Driving in the car— going on car rides— listening to Queen and KISS. It kinda just evolved as I got older. I mean.. it has really been there all my life.
As far as I understand, your parents played a big role in that?
Yes, without a doubt. They showed me a lot of the bands that I know and love to this day. But, of course, growing up with TikTok and getting music recommendations, it [my music taste] evolved over time.
Who has better taste in music? Mom or dad?
Ah man, why would you do this to me? I’m gonna have to say my dad. My mom has great music taste. She has gotten me into Morphine, Jeff Buckley as well. But, my dad is a music nerd like me. He likes metal, goth, rap— not like my mom doesn’t— but I feel like my dad has introduced me to so many bands.
What was the first instrument you learned?
The first instrument I learned how to play was the guitar and it’s actually, I think, the only instrument I know how to play— except for twiddling around on the banjo and some keyboards. A long time ago, I did actually learn how to play piano, but I don’t have a piano today. I use the keyboard on my laptop to record music.
Can you give me some insight into the concept behind “What’s Wrong”?
Well, the whole concept was that I wanted to record an album before I turned the age of 18. I wanted to release an album on my birthday. So, it was just me, a laptop and a guitar. On that laptop I had a program that I used to record called Logic Pro and a lot of the songs are actually just about me being alone.
Many of the tracks on What’s Wrong have deeply melancholic lyrics. Then comes “I’m So Happy.” Was this juxtaposition of emotions intentional, or just how it landed? Is it meant to be ironic?
It’s definitely ironic, without a doubt. “I’m So Happy” is more about— well, it’s almost sarcastic in a way. “I’m so happy…” you know? It’s just more about that there’s a lot of great things in this world, but it is a cruel world. It can be really, really sad sometimes. Sometimes, you just have to put a smile on your face. That’s what that song is about— putting a smile on your face. A lot of the songs are like that. I became homeschooled in the seventh grade and a lot of my friends that I had in sixth grade and prior.. I didn’t talk to anymore. They kinda just drifted away from me. So, a lot of these songs were about dealing with loneliness and just being alone in my bedroom.
When were the songs written?
A majority of the songs were written within the last year and more specifically this past summer. Um, I mean yeah, a couple of these songs I practiced when I was a young kid, but I actually had twenty songs ready for the album, I only released eleven, though. So, a lot of those lder songs were just from when I was younger and messing around on the guitar. Most of the songs— I’d say 99 percent of the songs on the album— are from this past year.
From the rich chord progressions, to finger picking and drums, What’s Wrong is really all you. What is the recording process like for a song with multiple instruments and cadences?
Yeah, it’s all me. I use a drum machine for percussion. I live in an apartment and I don’t think my neighbors would really like me practicing on a full kit at two in the morning for my album. But, yeah, they were a drum machine and I don’t see that as a bad thing. Everything else was me, too— the keyboard, guitar and vocals.
Well, it [the recording process] varies from song to song. I usually just go with the flow, sometimes I record the guitar first, or sometimes I actually put in the drum machine first and paluy along and make something with the drum machine. But, yeah, like you were saying, I do sometimes have the chords and then I’ll add finger picking over it like in “You’ll See My Ghost.” I use Logic Pro (digital audio program), I use a Focusrite Interface (audio controller) and I just plug it right into my acoustic guitar. I also have a [Fender] Jazzmaster as well.
Who are your biggest music inspirations?
So, I would say for my top picks… obviously Elliott Smith and obviously Duster. Uhh, Mazzy Star, Broadcast, Alex G. You may not hear it [in my music] as much as the other bands, but Sonic Youth is definitely a huge inspiration as well.
Who are your biggest non-music inspirations?
Wow, I would actually say my parents. My parents definitely inspire me a lot, they have really, really great work ethic. My dad did used to play in a band, so I don’t know if that’s cheating. When I look at my mom, she’s constantly working and constantly producing art. My dad, on the other hand, is always there to motivate me. So, they’re hard workers and I feed off of their energy in that way a ton.
You have a passion for interviewing artists as well. If you have one, who was the most fun artist you have had a conversation with?
Yes, I still love doing interviews and there have been plenty of fun ones. I actually haven’t had a single bad experience with conducting interviews. Everyone has always been so kind to me and answered my questions thoroughly. I’m gonna have to go with James Hetfield, though for the basic pick here. Especially at that time, it was Mother’s Day, it was at the MetLife Stadium. I mean Metallica is one of the bands that got me into playing guitar. James Hetfield is one of the greatest rhythm guitarists of all time and an incredible songwriter. Just to be able to see him and talk to him— it was a dream come true.
How would you go about obtaining these interviews? Is it easier now?
It has definitely gotten easier once I built up a resume. I actually first started when I was nine years old. So, my dad would just email publicists. Constantly trying to talk to these people and eventually, we grew connections and friendships with these people. Of course, it got easier as I went on. Interviewing J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr.— another huge inspiration of mine— Ghosts when I was really young, The Melvins.. I mean, yeah, I have luckily been able to interview a lot of great people.
Can you tell me about your social media growth in the years since you started doing this? Do you like that aspect, or does it bring a lot of anxiety?
Well, I actually do like it, because it makes me feel like: Wanna know what? After all these years of working hard, doing YouTube videos and to see that people actually like me. It definitely feels good to have a following now. Even when I first started, when I was a young kid, I wasn’t as aware of it as I am now, but I’ve just been doing the same thing all along. I’ve been consistent, doing interviews— my passion for music has never changed even a bit.
Top three underrated artists?
I have three on the top of my head right now. I’m gonna say right off the bat, Sunny Day Real Estate. Not like they don’t have a fandom, or that they aren’t known or recognized, but I feel like they should be much bigger than what they are, because they have made some of my favorite songs of all time. Jeremy Enigk has one of the most incredible voices ever, in my opinion. He’s up there with Thom Yorke and Elliot Smith in terms of voices.
Let’s see, what’s another one? Teethe is a slowcore band that I’m really into right now. I think they should be getting a lot more attention. Like I said before, it’s not like they don’t have a fanbase, though.
One last one… man it’s gonna be a hard one, I’m debating between a couple of bands here. I’m just gonna say Slow Pulp. Slow Pulp I really, really like. Their “Moveys” album I am a huge, huge, absolute fan of.
You know, it shouldn’t be this easy for me, but I’m just gonna say “Either/Or” from Elliott Smith. I think I might have listened to that record more than anyone on the planet. I actually have that album on repeat every single night as I’m falling asleep. I can’t fall asleep without that record playing. So, “Either/Or” has helped me the most out of every record. It’s my favorite.
For being such a small state, NJ has produced so many artists. Why do you think that is? How do you feel about the NJ music scene and its evolution over the years?
Well, one thing with New Jersey.. I feel like it has a lot of grit when compared to a lot of other states out there. I mean, we deal with the winter— not like we are the only one dealing with winter— but we deal with long winters, autumn, and so I would say it’s the weather, honestly. Weather does have an effect on people. Even just a rainy, overcast day does affect me and it does inspire me to make music. And yes, of course, we are close to New York and Philadelphia, so there’s just a lot of people in those cities. There’s also a lot of beautiful nature here [New Jersey] and nature inspires me a lot too. So, yes, you have New York, you got the cities, but you also have nature and the beach. I feel like the trees and the grass and leaves are definitely something that inspires me to make music. I don’t know, I could be completely wrong, but at least for me, that’s a huge inspiration to make music.
I also feel like it has a snowball effect, right? So, let’s say there’s a really great band playing live and the people that go to see it— they get inspired to make music. You know? And then they perform live and it inspires more and more people. Snowball effect.
Can you tell me a little bit about your acting career and upcoming role of Jonathan in Terrifier 2?
Yes, coming out in October! I loved filming Terrifier. Incredible actors and actresses, great crew on that set, Lauren [LaVera] is an amazing actress and I don’t think I would have been able to do it without her. Her energy, like I say, I like to feed off other people’s energy. Well, her acting is superb. Of course, David [Howard Thornton] was very nice and very fun to hang out with and talk to on set. And, Damien Leone? Incredible director. He had a vision for the film and he was able to enact it. So, yeah, Terrifier 2.
I also have an animated series coming out for season two. It’s called “Get Rolling with Otis,” I play Sal. That was a lot of fun to go into the studio with the headphones and do some voice acting. It’s a kid show and it will be on Apple TV Plus.
What is Little Punk People?
Little Punk People is a family brand. So, it started with my mom’s art. My mom still does paint, but it also has my interviews, acting and music. It’s a family collective of art that we make.
You are vocal about being pro-equality. Can you tell me what true inclusion means to you?
It means a lot. I feel like in this world we need kindness. Why should there be hate in a world that already is suffering from tragedies like climate change? I feel like people need to come together and we need to respect each other. So, I am huge on equality.
If you had one message to give to fans and readers hearing about Elliott Fullam for the first time, what would it be?
My message would be to be yourself. Never stop working and doing what you love, because you can do it. You can do what you love. Whether it’s through music, painting, interviews.. Or whether it’s becoming a football player and doing sports. You can do it, but you just have to trust yourself and be yourself. And, you have to have the work ethic.
About the Author/s
Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for food journalism midway through his schooling and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. Peter never stops learning and he is always in the weeds.