Meet Rea Fortis, a classically trained musician who possesses an innate talent for composing and songwriting, effortlessly weaving her magic to create unforgettable music.
Fortis will release her highly-anticipated debut EP ‘Where Are Your Gods Now’ on 2 August. However, this release is special as it doubles as a visual album that will premiere for one night only at FACT’s Picturehouse Cinema in Liverpool the very same night.
We caught up with Rea to find out all about her and this impressive project.
Uncover Liverpool: For our readers could you tell us a bit about yourself and your music?
Rea Fortis: I’ve been writing songs ever since I could hold a pencil, so then the music started and it hasn’t stopped since! My musical journey started by learning classical woodwind, which then migrated to piano, and as of now I am a pianist with a couple of saxophones. Performing turned to producing where more options for sound came into play, and I’ve been able to dip into a variety of genres such as neo-jazz, funk, Latin and blues. Since moving to Liverpool during the pandemic, my creativity has gone through the roof and I’ve been able to tap into what I really enjoy making, which is fun, grandiose, melancholy and dramatic all at the same time. My songs are normally influenced by current happenings that affect me; such as sexuality, ethnic minority issues, being surrounded by great friends, starting a new project or even hearing new sounds and wanting to capture them in song.
UL: Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
RF: There’s definitely a few of those! I grew up listening to P!nk and I’ve loved her musical journey (especially in my teenage years) to where she is now. Timbaland and Mark Ronson are my favourite producers of all time; they have crafted some of the most iconic songs of our generation and I am aiming to emulate that. I love all things Latin and swing, so Yerba Buena, Caro Emerald, Buena Vista Social Club and Willie Bobo have significantly influenced how I produce music now. The older songs from the 60’s were mastered via analog processes and I love the crunchy sound of tape, so I try to mimic that when I can. Chromeo are a Canadian funk duo that I’ve got into in the last few years and I cannot get bored of listening to their songs – I think last year I was in their top 0.5% of listeners on Spotify.
UL: You’ve created an incredible piece of audiovisual art for your upcoming EP release, with a screening of the visual EP happening at FACT in August, what can you tell us about it, without giving too much away?
RF: ‘Where Are Your Gods Now’ was made in the same vein as Janelle Monae’s ‘Dirty Computer’ or Melanie Martinez’ ‘K-12’ which are visual albums. If you haven’t seen them, I highly recommend them – they are the epitome of an audiovisual musical experience. Instead of doing a traditional launch party in a bar or club, I wanted to celebrate this EP with a cinema screening where you can see the music and follow me on a journey where I navigate religion in a fictional post apocalyptic world. Jazz and blues is explored as a homage to the western style setting and all the instrumentation you hear is either me or my partner who features on a few of the songs. We filmed at some iconic Liverpool locations such as Crosby beach and Sefton Park which takes on a whole new light when coupled with the music. This EP was recorded in my home studio and filmed with one camera and honestly, it was a joy to produce and direct what is essentially my first mini feature film.
‘Where Are Your Gods Now’ Official Trailer
UL: Do you have a favourite track off the EP?
RF: That’s a really hard one! ‘Reckoning’ is the main single which I wrote with my partner. That song was a complete accident but is the ultimate reason that this EP was born as the rest of the songs followed straight after. It’s a real western blues vibe that goes into climate change while throwing in double entendres about religion. However, ‘Contemplations’ was one I made in a rush where I chose to make a song completely out of my comfort zone. It’s super jazzy, features a lot of sax and is written in 5/4 and to my surprise, has been played on BBC Introducing Merseyside. This one’s a tough question, so I will say those two for now.
UL: What’s your process for creating music?
RF: I have two paths for creating music. The first is starting with the lyrics and chords and building up the instrumentation from there, that tends to be the more straightforward of the two which generates a more poppy and grooving sound, and when I write like this I have a better grasp from early in the process on how it will be finished. The other one is completely experimental and accidental – sometimes I’ll get fixated on a sound or a phrase I’ve written and need to use it somehow and won’t stop until it is in the song! Pure chaos ensues and this is where I have to reign it in, make it cohesive and really think about the direction of the song. The path is not always linear but this method produces the most interesting results. I’m never far away from my sax, piano or percussion, therefore it’s easy to mess around and come up with a riff and have a eureka moment. In ‘Where Are Your Gods Now’, there is a story to follow through all the songs, so I had to make sure there was a strong concept for each song so that the whole story flowed. Ultimately, I like my songs to connect to what I’m feeling in the moment and hope that it can resonate with someone else.
UL: What does the rest of 2023 have in store for you?
RF: 2023 is a huge year for me already! I’ve released a few singles and had some collaborations come into the ether, and now I’m looking forward to seeing the fruits that come from ‘Where Are Your Gods Now’. It’s my first time getting music out in a physical format (vinyl and tape) and I’m excited to get that out into the world. Right now I’m working on my dissertation for my Master’s degree in audiovisual media, and once that’s done I’m aiming to take a break and travel South America for a while to get influenced by the music scene there. Then I’m hoping for a few more singles to polish up and release for the rest of the year and start working on my next EP.
Follow @reafortis on Instagram for updates.
You can book tickets for Rea Fortis’ Audiovisual EP Launch at FACT here.
Stream the EP ‘Where Are Your Gods Now’ from 2 August via Spotify.