EP Premiere: Hope and Despair Collide on Ethansroom’s ‘Something’

Ethansroom © Sam Lindsey
Ethansroom’s ‘Something’ EP is a raw and sunshine-streaked dive through the mind of someone who wanted more.

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Sometimes things happen out of our control, and all we can do is hold on tight and let it all out later — the second part being a key step for an artist. A torrid year can become a great piece with enough passed time and perspective. Ethansroom – the music project of Ethan Fortenberry – does exactly this, making sense of a stretch of heartbreak and mental breakdown in his new EP.

Stream: ‘Something’ EP – Ethansroom

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Ethansroom’s Something EP, independently out March 12, 2019. The project — which was written, recorded and mastered in 14 days — started out as tracks for the follow-up to Fortenberry’s debut To, From.

“I’m currently working on an album, but once written I knew these songs weren’t meant for that” he tells Atwood Magazine of the three tracks that form a tight trilogy of themes, sound and sentiment. “When I finished writing “Something” I knew these were of a different breed. They were meant to be together, and needed to get out there.”

These songs were built off of fear. It was their catalyst. I was scared of things going south, and scared of drifting from a place of being filled with content.

something ep - ethansroom

something ep – ethansroom

Something EP is a raw (yet sunshine-streaked) dive through the mind of someone who wanted more. Even in the saddest corners, Fortenberry pushes an understanding that things will get better and he can grow from this: “I found a new perspective through the experience, and was able to see someone for who they actually are, gleaming at all,” he said. “The way I see it, it’s quite hopeful.”

The Georgia native — who started making music when he left his hometown and moved in with fellow two musicians — now has three EPs and a full length to his moniker. Something EP is different, though: Made mostly on the back of an electric guitar, it’s a slow, soul-searching affair that turns the microscope inward. “I’d say the whole project is me trying to break things down and trying to understand them at a rudimentary level” Fortenberry said. “Like any form of writing, it was a release for me also. These songs provided a tangible medium for me to look back at it all and understand it better as opposed to just keeping it all in my head.”

The three songs — “Try Again,” “Lady,” and “Something” — dovetail perfectly, each one a timestamp in the relatable experience of a failing relationship: “What I found was that you can add everything up and still leave with less than you hoped.”

Opening with “Try Again,” Fortenberry channels Ben Howard, Passenger and Afraid of Ghosts era Butch Walker to express his regret about how things turned out: “’Try Again’ is about the decline of an era of sorts and kicking yourself in the teeth for all of the things that could’ve been different about it.”

Ethansroom © Sam Lindsey

Ethansroom © Sam Lindsey

A feeling we can all relate to, he gives it that Ethansroom-touch by layering in the personal, complete with wavering voice and minor chords. “I had a little bit of a mental breakdown over the summer, and it kept me from experiencing things fully. It was like a three month period of me having on blinders that kept me from seeing any beauty whatsoever in the world. She was there though. I wasn’t able to see who she actually was, just the distortion that my mind put on everything. That’s where the ‘I wish I was insane like I thought I was’ line come’s from. Like if I had the mindset I do now about it all, about her, yeah I’d be insane, but at least she’d be there.”

Here we are is it
How you thought it’d be
I know it ain’t me
Still we said “we’ll see”
You were mine for
Just a little bit
Just a little bit too late
I wish I was insane
Like I thought I was

There’s a hyper-reality to Fortenberry’s work, is instantly recognizable to even the most optimistic of listeners. It’s a tug-of-war between cynics and dreamers, with no clear winner: Even a hopeful song like “Try Again” carries with it the knowledge they’re both scared and damaged, and repairing their love is a longshot. But it’s possible.

But even in the end
It ain’t but a thing
Leave it all to the wind
Blow it over again
Hope to see you there
On the other side of this
Then you won’t be scared
And we could try again
Ethansroom © Sam Lindsey

Ethansroom © Sam Lindsey

This sentiment of fear carries straight over to the second track, “Lady,” another slow burner that juxtaposes words and actions: “I think body language is a super interesting thing, and with the chorus I kind of went through some of the ways people lie with their bodies, and used them as images to show my sincerity.”

Lady lady
Here’s my promise
Arms uncrossed
No pockets, honest
Swear that my speech
It ain’t rotten
This time ‘round
I ain’t goin’ down

Like the rest of the EP, “Lady” basks in the simplicity of a heavily-reverbed guitar. Fortenberry’s unique voice and the depth of his lyrics make the directness of the music a necessity. Although there is occasionally a synth, it’s predominantly a hurting man and his sympathetic guitar. The bedroom feel of the recording makes you imagine Fortenberry coming home after a tough day and hitting record:

You took one step back
Tell you that confirmed it
Though I wish that you
Had better discernment
Imma stick around
‘Til it all comes back
‘Til your brain calms downs
Cuts you some slack

The album closes in much the same way as it opens; morose, deep and emotionally conflicted. “Something” is a dissection of how so many big decisions are the result of impulses: “I think going with your gut can be a useful thing for some things, but when it comes to really important situations, I kind of think it’s bullshit. Gut feelings aren’t thought out and it’s a cheap answer. With this song I wanted to explore that answer, having that ‘gut feeling.’”

Layin’ in your bed
Wasn’t no distance
Now it’s all distance
Something’s telling
You to go
I wish it’d tell
You to stay

Listening to “Something,” it’s hard not to feel like you’re the one who’s relationship just ended, but the closing bars remind you it’s going to be okay.

Went from every day
Time to time now
No I ain’t afraid
Peace all inside
I’ll see you the same
Everlasting

The regret and sadness is palpable. It’s a snapshot of the artist’s life — as raw and as real as any journal entry — but somehow, it’s as weightless as a balloon. Ethan Fortenberry held on through the bad times, and Something EP is the result that followed: “Good things take time, and these songs are me placing my cards in a tangible medium.”

Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Ethansroom’s Something with Atwood Magazine as he goes track-by-track through his new EP !

Stream: ‘Something’ EP – Ethansroom

:: Inside Something ::

something ep - ethansroom

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Try Again

“Try Again” is about the decline of an era of sorts and kicking yourself in the teeth for all of the things that could’ve been different about it. In this specific case, it took me a long time to come around to this girl, and once I realized what I’d missed for so long, the overlap period was over. 
I had a little but of a mental breakdown over the summer, and it kept me from experiencing things fully. It was like a three month period of me having on blinders that kept me from seeing any beauty whatsoever in the world. She was there though. I wasn’t able to see who she actually was, just the distortion that my mind put on everything. That’s where the “I wish I was insane like I thought I was.” line come’s from. Like if I had the mindset I do now about it all, about her, yeah I’d be insane, but at least she’d be there.
Shifting timeline to where we are now she was scared and so was I, but for different reasons. Overall it’s kind of like watching someone drive away in a car, and hoping you’ll meet again someday, that things will be different, and then try again.
I found a new perspective through the experience, and was able to see someone for who they actually are, gleaming at all. It sounds like a bummer of a song, but it really isn’t. Not the way I see it anyway. The way I see it, it’s quite hopeful.

Lady

“Lady” is about me going through any doubts that were placed on the situation. There were doubts that I wasn’t fully invested, doubts that what I was feeling wasn’t real, doubts that I’d leave. The verses in the song go through the mundane parts of it all, and me being perfectly content with just that. I think body language is a super interesting thing, and with the chorus I kind of went through some of the ways people lie with their bodies, and used them as images to show my sincerity.

Something

“Something” is about the answer I was given towards the end of it all. I think going with your gut can be a useful thing for some things, but when it comes to really important situations, I kind of think it’s bullshit. Gut feelings aren’t thought out and it’s a cheap answer. With this song I wanted to explore that answer, having that “gut feeling.” The whole song is kind of a big question mark. “What about this? What about that? How did all of those things lead up to something as simple as a gut feeling?”
I’d say the whole project is me trying break things down and trying to understand them at a rudimentary level. Like any form of writing it was a release for me also. These songs provided a tangible medium for me to look back at it all and understand it better as opposed to just keeping it all in my head. The three all together are me sorta unpacking this situation I was in, trying not to let either of us fumble. What I found was that you can add everything up and still leave with less than you hoped. You can fight it as much as you want but if something’s not there than it’s not there. Sure, it could come around, and in this situation I sure hope it does, but it takes two to make something work.

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something ep - ethansroom

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📸 © Sam Lindsey
art © Joey Brodnax, Lindsey

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Oliver Crook

Oliver Crook is a Canada-based journalist who has been playing guitar and deciphering lyrics since he first heard Sum 41’s “Fat Lip” blasting through his older brother’s bedroom walls. Although his taste has (somewhat) developed since then, his passion is just as strong as ever. When not writing about music, he can be found drinking too much coffee, complaining about the finickiness of avocados, and being disappointed by all of his favourite sports teams.