Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday May 21st 2019

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Dark Surf Sounds

By Savannah Evanoff

Mariah Fortune writes the kind of love songs you run from or at least hide from.

The woman behind the solo project Woven In likens herself to Pepé Le Pew, the French skunk featured in “Looney Tunes.” He craves love but often sends the other characters running from his odor and overly aggressive personality.

The comparison has plausibility. Woven In’s latest album, “Hexed to Death,” is composed of what Fortune calls “dark surf anti-love songs” featuring baritone guitar, drums and synthesizers. The opening track is “Do You Really Mean It?”

“(It’s about) how people say one thing and they might not really feel that way, or you take it to heart when they say they have feelings for you and it turns out that they didn’t,” Fortune said. “It’s really trying to be truthful about your feelings, even if they’re not, ‘Oh, I’m head over heels for a person.’ They should still be honest feelings you’re conveying.”

The album is divided into two parts, each eight songs. Fortune alternates between instrumental songs and those with lyrics.

“Part one is just listed at $1 on my Bandcamp so people will be like, ‘Yeah, I’ll pay $1 and see what this Woven In is,’” Fortune said. “The second half is for fans only.”

“Killings Happen” is one of her favorites featured on the second half. It experiments with sounds and has strong lyrics, she said.

“I would like people to listen to that one,” Fortune said. “It’s an important idea that people die every day and people are killed, and sometimes there’s nothing we can do about that. It doesn’t matter where you live. There’s no safe place away from that. It’s a brute reality check.”

Fortune has a grip on reality. She works at a hospital in Baltimore, Md., fixing printers, and, honestly, some days are really hard. Playing guitar helps.

She started playing the instrument as a teenager.

“My dad moved me down to Florida from Philadelphia, and the agreement was I wouldn’t be mad about it if he bought me a guitar,” Fortune said. “I didn’t know anybody down in Florida, and it was an abrupt thing. So I was like, ‘Well, if you get me an electric guitar, I’m not gonna be upset about it.’ That wager paid off.”

Playing guitar has been one of her favorite things to do since.

“It really relieves me in a lot of ways and has brought a lot of comfort in hard times,” Fortune said. “It reminds me of a human voice. You can make it talk. For me, it feels like string instruments are the closest to human vocal chords.”

At first, she recorded guitar with no vocals and experimented with other musicians who didn’t take music as seriously as she did. Then, she started the solo project Woven In and began weaving lyrics back in.

“I was in Florida, and I was thinking about how there’s a lot of interconnectivity between people’s lives and how nothing is one incident on its own; it’s a ripple effect,” Fortune said. “Other things happen from it, so Woven In is a synopsis of that idea.”

Fortune calls her genre “dark wave music,” which she attributes to her time living in Jacksonville.

“The surf influence comes from a lot of the instrumental surf rock music I used to listen to when I started picking up guitar and taking it more seriously,” Fortune said. “I think those surf-y undertones never left … the reverberated sound reminiscent of water.”

No matter where you are, water makes an impact, she said.

“Not even just artistically, your mood and the way you think about things—your environment plays a huge part,” Fortune said. “I was in Florida for 12 years, and those were my formative years. It has a lasting impact. In Philly, it’s nonstop busy, concrete, buses and bells and birds and catfights in the alley—all that kind of stuff. I think I would be making a different type of music if I had got my musical grounding while I was living in Philly.”

Woven In’s music is dark—it always has been. But at her core, Fortune is a romantic.

She compares herself to a love-sick cartoon character the same way she compares her concerts to a prom.

“I would love to play someone’s prom or wedding—anything like that,” Fortune said. “I play a lot of love songs, so I do feel that old-timey prom feeling in a weird way.”

If it isn’t a prom, it’s a reunion.

“The people that aren’t really familiar with my music are definitely drawn into a way where it’s like, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll get on the dance floor,’” Fortune said. “They start out hesitant but still creep toward. The people who already know the songs and are fans are like, ‘Oh yeah, come on out and join me in the circle.’ It seems like a pleasant experience—kinda spooky but also enticing. I’m hoping to entice some more fans to come dance.”

WOVEN IN
WHAT: Woven In with Cookies and Cake, The Coefficients and Fly Bai$e
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, April 25
WHERE: chizuko, 506 W. Belmont St.
COST: $5
DETAILS: facebook.com/wovenin