BROOKLYN-BASED INDIE-FOLK/ROCK ARTIST FORT GORGEOUS
SHARES NEW SINGLE AT NYLON
“ROUND AND ROUND” PREMIERE @ NYLON
Check out Fort Gorgeous’…
“Patterns” at Substream Magazine
“Chickadee” at Earbuddy
Stream/embed “Patterns” via Soundcloud
Stream/embed “Chickadee” via Soundcloud
Stream/embed “Round and Round” via Soundcloud
RIYL: Death Cab For Cutie, Bon Iver, Porches, Radiohead,
Sufjan Stevens, Band of Horses, Grizzly Bear
Billy Libby. Photo by Shervin Lainez.
“Masterful pop-rock.” – NYLON
“Lush Pop music … prowess and pristine production … hook-laden style of songwriting.” – Substream Magazine
With Ingrid Michaelson
“Pure magic.” – Hollywood Life
April 6, 2018 – Brooklyn-based outfit, Fort Gorgeous (aka Billy Libby, touring guitarist in Ingrid Michaelson band) shares “Round and Round” at NYLON, who call Libby’s music, “masterful pop-rock.” Fort Gorgeous also recently shared the new single, “Patterns” at Substream Magazine, who wrote that Libby’s style was “hook-laden” with “prowess and pristine production,” calling it “lush pop music.” Look for Fort Gorgeous’ debut EP, The Bottom of the Sea, out May 4th.
Fort Gorgeous leader Billy Libby’s heady, introspective songs rise and fall on waves of emotion, their lyrics always searching for hard answers, their pop sensibility never forgetting the need for a strong chorus. Though the songs often wind their way through delicate, hypnotic arpeggios, Libby’s songs always emerge with welcoming, heartfelt hooks. And though his contemplative lyrics and winding musical passages conjure up comparisons to brooding art-folk acts like Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens, the sequent hooks precede another message: Everyone’s invited in Libby’s voyage to The Bottom of the Sea.
Considering Libby’s other projects, this approach comes as no surprise—all enjoy reputations as incubators for compelling, artistic indie rock and pop. There’s veteran musician, Ingrid Michaelson, for whom Libby currently plays guitar, the exceptionally dreamy Novelette, Libby’s collaboration with LA singer/songwriter Cara Salimando and Patrick Meese (of Tennis and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats), and also the synthpop sheen of Shapes in Calgary (ft. members of Savoir Adore & Field Mouse). As Fort Gorgeous, he’s shared bills with Tokyo Police Club & Dark Rooms, and as Billy Libby (singer/songwriter), with Gregory Alan Isakov, My Morning Jacket, Surfer Blood, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper & more.
The Bottom of the Sea—Libby’s first record as Fort Gorgeous—finds him adding a hi-fi pop sheen to the songwriting style he unveiled on previous solo releases The Little Bird and Pitter Patter. This cleaner, brighter, more dynamic sound comes courtesy of co-producers Gary Atturio (Psychic TV, Shapes in Calgary, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and Saul Simon MacWilliams (Ingrid Michaelson). Atturio and MacWilliams also played a variety of instruments on the record, rounding out a lineup that includes drummers Sarab Singh (Sara Bareilles) and Tim McCoy (Darwin Deez).
Fort Gorgeous’ The Bottom of the Sea rises and falls, pushes and pulls, exploring the full range of the songs’ emotional weight. “Patterns” alternates between brooding, guitar-punctuated verses and soaring, anthemic choruses, as Libby approaches a breakup from the self-calming perspective, “It’s OK—see the bigger picture.” “Wishing Well” builds from sparse, delicate acoustic guitar into a sophisticated pop arrangement that includes a subtle nod to Libby’s late grandfather, who everyone called Bones (“At the bottom of the sea / I’ll dig my toes / And rest my bones”). Libby reveals that “Chickadee” took a year and a half to write while traveling through New York, Hawaii, Maine and Indonesia. “Chickadee was one of the first songs for this EP and took a lot of time to develop. I feel like taking time helps paint a true picture of how my mindset transforms and helps the lyrics tell that story.”
What began for Libby as a collection of intricate guitar songs definitely blossomed in the studio. “I write these very busy guitar parts and then try to deconstruct them with all these different instruments,” he says. “The guitar parts are always there, only implemented, or displaced by other sounds at times, with different divisions.”
As for a theme on the debut Fort Gorgeous record? “I guess I’m just a mid-30s emo kid all grown up,” Libby says. “A lot of this album is trying to deal with that. I usually write from a pretty dark place, but recording and playing the songs live is always a very happy, cathartic experience.” Libby intends to supplant the comorbidity of existential angst and freedom with liberating melodies.
Catharsis is important to Libby. His mother died when he was an infant, and he was very close to his grandparents. With his grandfather passing away last September, Libby confesses that much of his anxiety actually stems from a fear of death. Even as a teenager, he had a strong sense of mortality, often thinking of people close to him, “I’ll be lucky if this person makes it ’til I’m 30.” Libby’s passion and anxiety stem from wanting to see something run its course, naturally.
Eventually, he moved to Seattle and played in a band there, did the “hired-gun guitar thing” and played on a USO tour. A mutual connection introduced him to Michaelson after he moved to New York. When a bad publishing deal expired, he felt able to breathe again, and selected the FortGorgeous moniker to escape the expectations of his singer/ songwriter past.
Now, Libby splits time between New York and his home state of Maine, returning to the latter every six weeks or so. The decision reflects two distinct sides of his personality, the sentiment popping up in “Patterns,” Libby singing, “I want to live in a city, but die in a small town. “With this arrangement,” he says, “I can still be here in New York, but I also feel connected to a smaller place.”
With The Bottom of the Sea’s release, Fort Gorgeous will be hitting the road in support. In the meantime, Libby is already looking ahead, working on a follow-up EP he anticipates will be a more stripped-down affair. He’s also continuing with the volunteer work he’s enjoyed for years, assisting kids and special-needs communities by running songwriting workshops that help people deal with their own losses and hardships.
Fort Gorgeous’ The Bottom of the Sea will see its official release on May 4, 2018.