You're a Good DJ, Charlie Brown Superstar
Since the show began almost two years ago, A Change of Tune has highlighted some of the best up-and-coming artists out of these West Virginia hills with podcast-y chats ranging from Rozwell Kid to The World is a Beautiful Place..., Beach House drummer Graham Hill to Qiet and beyond.
But those interviews have been a bit infrequent, and since West Virginia Day was this month (and with A Change of Tune’s second birthday on the horizon), we thought we’d do something special: 30 days, 30 brand new #WVmusic interviews that range from Morgantown alt-rockers and Parkersburg singer-songwriters to West Virginia music venues and regional artist management and beyond, all of which contribute to this state’s wild and wonderful music scene.
And today, we are chatting with a musician out of Romney/Huntington, West Virginia. By day, you might know him as Brett Fuller. But by night, you might just hear his indie dance beats as DJ Charlie Brown Superstar. So how did a West Virginian turn a beloved cartoon character into a disco-spinning DJ? Let's find out...
How did you start playing and producing music?
I got my start at the legendary Huntington club Gumby's in the winter of 1994. Over the years, I gradually and naturally transitioned into producing. You tend to get to the point in DJing where you tire of playing other people's music and want to spin your own.
Where does the name Charlie Brown Superstar come from?
I was playing at The Drop Shop in Huntington, where we were running a theme night called "Dueling DJ's". The premise of the event was that a DJ from another club would come to our club and would "compete" with me for the crowd's favor. It was all friendly and in good fun, but while we were preparing for the first show, the club called me and asked for a name (as I didn't have one at the time). I had been toying with the name Charlie Brown Superstar and went with it. It's just a play on Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar.
How has Charlie Brown Superstar’s sound changed over time (if at all)?
My sound changes all the time. It's different whenever I sit down to work on something. It all depends on my mood and the vibe I'm feeling at the moment.
Where do you play in and around West Virginia (venues, festivals, etc.)?
I've played all over Huntington, but I have been the resident DJ at The V Club for the last decade. I’ve also played The Empty Glass, Boulevard Tavern, and Sam's Uptown Cafe in Charleston, as well as 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown. I will be playing The Brew Skies Festival in August.
What’s been the highlight of your musical journey?
There’s too many to single one out. I've had great experiences ranging from playing house parties to DJing in front of packed clubs (especially my 8-year run on Mondays at The V Club) to playing with local and national acts on bills throughout my career.
What’s it like making music in West Virginia?
I don't know if making music in West Virginia is any different than making music wherever you are. I mostly work by myself, so I can be anywhere. I've worked on my stuff on a boat in Mexico, riding in cars to gigs, and in other cities and states. I think it's different now that the internet is making the world a smaller place. It's as easy to be influenced by someone in a small town in Australia as it is by a local musician.
Do you feel held back by being in West Virginia? Or does it feel like a musically-supportive place?
At times, both. I've had amazingly supportive crowds throughout my career, but I’ve also had crowds who’ve turned on me as soon as I started playing. It just depends on the atmosphere of where you are.
What, in your opinion, needs to happen in the West Virginia music scene for it to move forward?
I think it has moved forward. I've been involved with this scene for over twenty years, and I've never witnessed a time where there has been so many talented bands and musicians going at once. In the past, it always seemed like there was "one great hope" that could "make it.” Now, I feel like there are a bunch of acts that could or are already on their way.
Any words of wisdom for folks wanting to get into music?
Follow your own direction and just do what you do.
Charlie Brown Superstar’s latest release is the Good Grief EP. Keep an eye on his social media for summer tour dates and releases. To hear more #WVmusic, tune in to A Change of Tune, airing Saturday nights at 10 on West Virginia Public Broadcasting. And for more #WVmusic chats, make sure to go to wvpublic.org/wvmusic.