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MEGAFORTRESS aka Bill Gillim speaks on Jazz, Zombies, and the Chrysler Building

what are your 5 top jazz records?

  • Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain
  • Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz to Come
  • Anthony Braxton - The Montreux/Berlin Concerts
  • Miles Davis - Nerfertiti
  • Dave Holland - Conference of the Birds

 

how is Believer different from your first EP?

 

The main difference is in the vocals. On the EP I used my voice the same way I would use a synthesizer, layering multiple tracks, using heavy effects, and obscuring the lyrics.

The approach on Believer is much more up front and naked. And I focused on the lyrical aspect of the songs more. I had a narrative theme of spiritual discontent that I wanted to make prominent. Joel Ford (co-producer and Driftless label head) pushed me to make the vocal sound as stark as possible as a way to anchor the mood of the album, which otherwise shifts pretty drastically from song to song. I use more of my lower chest voice, rather than staying mostly in the falsetto range like on the EP.
 

I also started playing alto saxophone again, which I've been playing since I was 10. It found its way into a lot of the songs.

 

 

do you feel like living in NYC influences your music?

 

Not in any blatant way, like I sing about the Chrysler Building or pizza or anything. But the city definitely affects my mental space and bleeds into my music. I'm sure a large part of my anxiety that wakes me up in the middle of the night comes from the hectic buzzing hive of 8 million subway zombies.

 

 

who's your favorite current / active artist? why?
 

Really recently I've been listening to Pharmakon a lot. Her music is fitting perfectly with my current head space. It's like watching the surface layer of the world peel back to reveal a giant void. 
 

 

what is the dream megafortress show?

 

I once had a dream that I was at a festival in some sunny city park in the early 70s, and Mahavishnu Orchestra and Ornette Coleman were playing. If I could find my way back to that dream world and play on the same bill as them, that would be pretty perfect.

 

 

Whats your new live set like?
 

I just added two new players to my live band, Kevin Uehlinger on Rhodes and Dan Bates on bass. And Michael Barron still plays drums with me. All three are really great and sensitive improvisers. The set is a looser version of my songs, with room for improvisation and moments of minimal, quiet interaction.
 

 

what can people expect from you in the future?


I'm going to start playing a lot of shows again. I had taken almost a year off from playing while I was finishing up the album. It's been really great working with the new band and finding different ways to play the songs live. 
 

And I want to start working on another record as soon as possible.