Italian psychologist Roberto Assagioli once famously proclaimed, “There is no no certainty; there is only adventure.” Assagioli’s words speak to the process by which we embark life as we know it. There is no predetermination. Rather, we are fated to carve our own paths, meticulously weaving our lives around a series of spontaneous and momentous events, from moving cities to falling in love- and everything in between. The action is to live and it is a marked starting point of a life well-lived, with our individual stories carved by how we approach the action of living as an adventure. For Nashville, TN pop-rock outfit Forts Like Vana, the adventure in living is best approached through as a crash-course decision that is based on finding light and fun in everything. Such a mentality is rigorously displayed in their 2018 EP This + This = That. Through open-hearted lyricism and upbeat, pop-centric instrumentation, Forts Like Vana expresses the 3 qualities of ‘fun:’ They’re loud; they’re wild; they have no regard for the status quo. This potent trifecta solidifies Forts Like Vana’s career as one of the freshest sounds to emerge out of their area and sets a long-running pace for what will be their greatest adventure ever embarked as musicians: to be.
Today, we are unbelievably excited to present to your eyes and ears the exclusive track-by-track commentary of Forts Like Vana’s dynamic This + This = That EP, penned by ! As per usual, a complete album stream can be found at the end of the article, courtesy of Spotify. Enjoy!
“Love You Right”
I think this song will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first song I wrote after moving to Nashville. I came to the city with a bag of clothes, no cash, and my guitars, and [I] moved into a tiny, rundown apartment in the city. I didn’t have any furniture or anything to keep my sanity in line, and for the first few months I was using my clothes as blankets and pillows.
After a few weeks, I really started to feel like I was losing my humanity and felt so lonely that I went downtown to check out the city. I saw Nashville in its truest form: wild, carefree, and unpredictable. From that moment on I went exploring through all the clubs and scenes. By the end of the night I went home and just started walking around in a circle singing random melodies and then I accidentally sang “let me love you right” and ran to grab my notebook and wrote the entire song that night. FLV wasn’t formed yet and I didn’t know what to do with the song. I called Derek [James] and told him about the song and sent him a voice memo of me playing it. Right when he heard it he said “that’s the song, now let’s make something with it” and we went from there.
I wouldn’t say that this song is “based off a true story,” or “happened to me,” or “is about someone I know,” but it is about that feeling you get when you see someone that you are instantly hooked to and- instead of taking it slow and proper- you want to cut to the chase and go make some adventures with them. Life is too short to not live it wild and to the fullest.
There are moments in your life when you’re with someone who takes your breath away and you hear the angels singing when you’re next to that person. Explaining that feeling is really tough to do, but when we started writing, that emotion instantly took us over and we let our feelings do the writing. The song is about someone who is an angel in your eyes. They are pure and perfect in every single way and they have that heavenly glow around them every time you see them. This song is the moment that you get to tell them what they mean to you.
If you read any of the old stories of these perfect beings like Hercules or stuff like that, they are about someone who is so “god-like” but they fall in love with a regular person, and to do that they give up their “perfection” to be with them. They sacrifice their flawlessness and divinity to be more human, to connect with that one person on a truly intimate and real level. We wanted to capture that feeling so we made the chorus say “Throw your halo down, baby fall into infinity with me” and “if the stars align, and on you they shine, then I’ll fall for you till the day I die” to express that love is never perfect, but it’s perfect when you’re falling with that someone.
I was in a toxic relationship that lasted years that just got worse and worse to the point that I was manipulated to stay in it. It was so toxic that I wasn’t even phased when my girlfriend lashed out at me and tried to flip her car into a ditch while we were driving one time. Crazy stuff. I’m pretty sure that everyone will go through at least one toxic relationship in their life. Constant fighting, on again off again, broken trust, manipulation, anger, depression, and all these negativities, but you’re clinging on to the hope that things will pull through for a relationship that is already failed. This topic hits home because it was a world I was living in for 6 years. It’s hard to write about because there’s so many emotions going on that you don’t know where to even start.
Derek and I were hanging out watching tv one night and he started playing a little riff on guitar, and when he was about to stop I told him to keep repeating it. We started coming up with melody lines for the verses but didn’t know what to write about. We started playing the chords for the chorus and the first thing that came out of my mouth was “I love the way you hate me tangled up in crazy” and right there we knew what we wanted to make the song about. “Again” is an argument that you’re having with yourself because you are watching the “love, fight, breakup, makeup” cycle happen and feel [like] it’s never going to end. It’s that moment you finally admit to yourself that you are in love with being in a broken relationship and will fall back into it again.
Since that’s the story of the song, we wrote the instrument lines to reflect that feeling like a repetitive, “here we go again” thing. It goes around and around, then eventually gets too messy and so up in your face that it falls off the rails, while the vocals express how crazy the whole relationship and situation is driving them. We wrote the song in about 20 minutes and then recorded it the next day. I’m pretty confident to say that it’s our favorite song to play live.
“You & I”
I would say that, even though this song has the fewest lyrics in it, they hit you the hardest with what they say. The lyrics are vows; the song is all about celebrating that with everyone around you. The really cool thing about that is that the song means so many different things to so many people that we will never say what the song means to us. Some people relate to this song with a loved one, or something they can’t live without. We hear from fans what “You & I” means to them. Some people say that this song reminds them of a loved one who is no longer with them and can’t wait to see again one day. And some people say that it’s an anthem they play with their friends because it relates to their friendship. It’s amazing to see how one song captures all these different feelings. It’s one of the coolest feelings in the world to play the song live and everyone in the room is singing the song at the top of their lungs celebrating together. Moments like that are the reasons why this is a special song. It’s not about us, but everyone who listens to it.