Fortitude Valley is a brand new project for the songwriting talents of Durham based Brisbanite Laura Kovic. Having spent the majority of her musical career playing keyboards in other people’s bands, bringing their songs to life with a melodic flourish, it was about time for Laura K to find an outlet for her songs: awkward power-pop that’s bound to appeal to fans of The Beths, Weezer or The Pixies. She’s assembled quite the band too: Martha’s Daniel Ellis on lead guitar and Nathan Stephen Griffin on drums, and Nightflowers’ Greg Ullyart on bass.
“Writing songs on guitar and being the front person for a band is a new thing for me,” admits Fortitude Valley front woman Laura Kovic. With a musical restlessness setting in over the past few years during her time as the keyboard player of East London indie pop band Tigercats, Kovic might not be used to being the boss, but she doesn’t seem to be letting that get in the way. After experiencing writer’s block for a couple of years, she took the bull by the horns, as she explains, “Finally I bought a guitar in February 2018 to see if doing something different would help me...and it did!” Kovic cemented the band’s line up by recruiting mutual friend and bassist Greg Ullyart from Night Flowers, meeting bandmates Nathan Stephens Griffin (drums) and Daniel Ellis (lead guitar) of Martha/Onsind through their shared label home on now sadly-defunct indie bastion Fortuna POP! “I played in Mikey Collins’ band with Greg. Named after an area of her home town in Brisbane, Australia, Fortitude Valley is a fitting moniker for the songwriter’s first outfit, who says: “It’s essentially the heart of the music scene in Brisbane. Combining elements of power-pop, indie-pop, pop punk and indie rock, their diverse approach takes influence from the likes of Weezer, Belle and Sebastian, The Beths, The Weakerthans, and Pavement.
“In the past I’ve usually written more gentle melodic pop songs,” explains Kovic, “but I’ve tried to move away from that slightly on this album and experiment with adding more deliberate bite to my songwriting. Nathan, Daniel and Greg definitely helped to make it more punk. Compared to the other bands people might have heard me playing in, it probably has more of an indie rock vibe.” Addressing those bouts of writer’s block which have plagued her over the years, she says: “I’ve always tended to write in bursts of productivity, then go for long periods without writing anything. The strange thing about this album was that we were ready to record the last four songs in April 2020, then the pandemic hit and we couldn’t finish it, and in the intervening period I ended up basically scrapping some of those songs, and writing new ones instead. My rescue cat Margie has been a great source of inspiration!” Addressing themes of the passage of time, friendships and relationships growing apart, and feelings of insecurity, de-pression, and anxiety—as well as searching for love and salvation—the album is very much a product of our times.