The moody and pulsating sounds of ‘Stormy Weather’, featuring Rebecca Callander, mark a grand debut single for the new duo, Forces & Fury. The new project between Astrid Holz and Kat Ayala (Rackett), the mission statement behind Forces & Fury is to explore detailed soundscapes merging alternative, electronica and rock; merging synths and live instruments competently.
Astrid, a sound engineer who incorporates both the production and drumming, and with Kat shows her talent as a multi-faceted guitarist – both unashamed gearheads – their foray into a new sonic lane via the music of Forces & Fury encapsulates an energetic but intelligent approach to songwriting. It’s a project that’s entirely their own, with a sound exactly that’s specifically crafted to their own personal ears and inclinations. With their launch single now out and braving the seas, the pair happily gave us the low-down on the creative process behind ‘Stormy Weather’ and how it’s come to be.
Kat: “The songwriting process for ‘Stormy Weather’ was actually quite an adventure. It involved the two of us quitting our full-time jobs, moving back to my family home in Davao City, Philippines, and taking over a portion of my Dad’s music studio for what would end up being eight months. We brought so much gear with us. We took a complete mobile recording rig with an additional in ear monitoring system that Astrid built. She took her snare, cymbals, kick pedals, an Alesis sample pad, and a loaded laptop. I took my pedal board, plus additional effects, an RC-300 looper, and two guitars.
“The premise was to explore our creativity with no holds barred – to find and chase sounds that inspired us, to write whatever came out, and then sculpt something cohesive out of the fragments we produced. We knew that we would be creating electronic music with rock elements because those were our tendencies, so we made a massive playlist of songs that we both loved and wanted to be influenced by. We listened to it endlessly in the lead up to the trip, and often returned to it in the middle of sessions for inspiration and guidance.”
Astrid: “‘Stormy Weather’ was a product of many fragments. We started with a body percussion loop that we put through Guitar Rig; a plug-in with countless crazy tone-altering effects. Then came the bass-line in the verse, which was quickly followed by a drum beat. We jammed on this vibe with guitar and synths – Omnisphere being our synth of choice, until we had a rough bed that we enjoyed listening to. Eventually we took words out of the notebooks we had been writing in, and strung lines and melodies together over the roughly recorded bed.”
“Our production process for all the songs we created while in Davao was long and arduous. We worked on all the tracks at the same time, jumping between projects to try and manage our energy and interest levels. We also scheduled breaks, gym sessions, and social interactions, to make sure we kept on top of our mental health.”
Kat: “I remember that Stormy Weather in particular was difficult to get through. We argued a lot, pushing each other to deliver something better. And we just kept chipping away until we had a demo we were ready to properly record. That in itself was another lengthy process.”
Astrid: “Our recording rig was great, but we really didn’t have the pre-amps nor the microphones to produce a high quality drum sound. So with help of a local friend, we found a great recording studio in Manila, Sound Creation, and flew up there to track the drums properly. With the drums down, we returned to Davao to record the bass and guitars. While we demoed everything ourselves, we felt it was important to give Stormy Weather the best rhythm section groove possible. We engaged a great friend and local bass-playing legend Mark Asiong to lay down the final bass groove, and we were stoked with the overall vibe. The final touch was getting our talented friend Monica to put some demo vocals on the song. We love singing, but it’s not our forte, so it made sense to get a professional like Monica to deliver the melody before showing the rack to potential vocalists.
“We returned to Sydney with ‘Stormy Weather raring to go, but vitally missing a voice that would take it to the place we dreamt it could be. It stayed like that for over a year, until we started working closely with Rebecca Callander while playing in her band RACKETT. Bec is just as capable of belting out an Audioslave cover while balancing on a kick drum in heels, as she is of singing a beautiful lullaby. When she sang the first line, we looked at each other and knew he voice was perfect for the song.”
Kat: “Yes. Not many people know this about Bec, but she is a killer sessionist. She came prepared, sang beautifully, and was a breeze to work with in the studio. By the end of the session we knew the song was done and swiftly sent it off for mixing. Our mixing engineer, David Hemming, whom we also look up to for guidance, was just as excited as we were and finished the mix soon after that. We reckon that was in December 2017.”
“It took us over a year to release Stormy Weather because we wanted to be able to give it our full attention and energy. We were incredibly busy with RACKETT last year, and so chose to patient and wait for the right time. At the moment, we are really enjoying the process of releasing our own music, and are very pleased with the results so far.”