FORTRESS OF FUN is the forthcoming CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE record from Portland indie post-punk trio J. GRAVES. Each song on FOF is represented by a music video, plot line, and choices with which the viewer will navigate the record. Today, we’re giving you the first airing of their new music video for the song “Valentine”. Check it out and get more online experience at jgraves.xyz/fof.
It’s good to have the support of your bandmates when it comes to creative ideas, but Portland’s J. Graves is doing something very new that required a little extra long-term understanding from bandmates Kelly Clifton and Aaron MacDonald: a “choose-your-own-adventure” album. Titled Fortress of Fun, each single comes with a music video, which ends with a choice, which, in turn, leads to another video.
In this concept, new single Valentine is the first stepping stone, leading viewers into a visual world full of piercing music, nice beaches, swords, and chain-mail armor. Under the surface, however, Valentine is a song that brims with barely contained despair; a tumult unfettered by its brighter sound. Buried beneath howling refrains and gaunt overdrives lies something equal parts mournful and angry as Graves reflects on an unhealthy relationship that ended just as harshly as it existed.
“We can talk about Valentine in two parts, the song itself and the visuals that accompany it.” – says Jessa Graves.
“I wrote this song on Valentine’s day in 2020 just as I ended a long and tumultuous relationship. It was an ending that had started and stopped for much longer than I’d like to admit. This song is bargaining, surender, and weakness.
At the same time this song is power, a juxtaposition communicating the multitudes of emotion an end can bring. There’s what we like to call a “cliff” in “Valentine” that builds, swirls and drags you right to the edge. This is just as I heard it in my head and felt it in my body before adding it to the song. I could feel there was something missing and “the cliff” completed Valentine.”
She further explained the creative process behind the song: “The world shut down just about a month later. Kelly, Aaron and myself devised a plan to continue working while we waited to see one another in person. Both added such detailed and sophisticated parts, a testament to their musicianship and the way my best friends truly elevate this project. This is J. Graves growing and stretching. This is our best work and we’re so proud to share it with all who will listen.”
In the digital world, Fortress of Fun puts the tracklist into the hands of the listener, leaning into the idea that people can (and should!) listen to their songs in any order they want. One thing is for certain, however: no matter the order you choose, you’re bound to feel something both heavy and exciting as you make your way through the emotional maze of the album.
“I remember the day my brain put together that the chest was a portal and was so pleased by the symbolism a chest holds. Your heart, something you bare, vulnerability, everything fell into place. You meet the chest, you enter the Fortress of Fun with us as we embark on our greatest adventure. The chest is the first of 6 talismen you’ll encounter as you weave your way through the choices presented. On a behind the scenes note, Aaron and I drove about an hour to a remote location out in the woods to pick up the chest. It’s one of my strangest craigslist finds. At 100 years old it’s a little portal into a different time unto itself.”
Catch the band live at:
March 17th // Portland, OR // Doug Fir Lounge
April 9th // Eugene, OR // Sessions Music Hall”