Download: Megafortress, “Freedom From Fear”


Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

The one-man desert-drone machine Megafortress lurks between the terrifying and sublime–a fertile combination of the zone-altering synth spookery of Oneohtrix Point Never, the spectral moans of Lichens, and the self-made loop-pedal choirs of Julianna Barwick. Mastermind Bill Gillim (who also daylights as the singer of nostalgia-pop band Tigercity) has always “been in love with music that creates sublime, hovering landscapes”–Terry Riley and Jon Hassell are two of his personal faves. But he’s just as inspired by attending actual meditation classes, finding a peaceful spiritual nook hidden in the center of a bustling city. Gillim is currently posting a wellspring of music to his SoundCloud, unleashing a wild Carpenterian landscape where unsettling rattles are just as common as euphoric samples of church services. His best track thus far is the haunting “Freedom From Fear,” a song that’s little more than six minutes of panned vocal effects battling in disorienting polyrhythms, which make curious and uneasy melodies when they collide and interact.

Download: [audio-1]

Q&A: Bill Gillim of Megafortress

What is “Freedom From Fear” about?

“Freedom From Fear” is all about the mindset I was in and the process I was experimenting with. When I made it, I had just gotten back from a three-hour meditation course. So I was feeling very focused and relaxed. I started with a simple vocal loop running through my pedals, and began playing with the volume slider on my mixer. That gave it the ping-ponging echo effect. I tend to layer my songs with tons of synth and vocal tracks, but realized that “Freedom From Fear” was good with just the original loop and then the lead vocal line. The only other addition was the sparse synth bell loops.

What inspired its title?

I wasn’t really sure what to call it, since it had kind of come out of nowhere. So I did what I sometimes do, and looked in the books I have lying around for title inspiration. “Freedom From Fear” is one of the chapter titles of Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s book The Karma Of Questions, which I had picked up that day at my meditation class.

Do you have to be in a particular mindset when you record?

It’s kind of impossible to always match the right mindset to the time I have available to make music. There are days when I sit down to record and feel like I’m unfocused and making garbage. But sometimes I’ll go back to these sessions weeks or months later and find something that’s a good foundation for a song. Though, sometimes I come back to it and realize that it really was just garbage.

Is there anything about your recording space that’s particularly inspiring?

I make everything in my apartment. I live in a small studio with my girlfriend, which isn’t necessarily the most ideal writing/recording situation. But I’ve upgraded recently to a better mixer and a good pair of headphones, so I’m happy. And I try not to keep my girlfriend up too late with my high-pitched wailing.

What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the roasted Japanese yam sandwich at Num Pang.

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