Fortuan – Flavours Album Review and Band Interview

Today we are featuring another promising young alternative rock band, FORTUAN, from Slovakia. We have reviewed their latest release, FLAVOURS, along with its character, style, story, potential, and more.

Fortuan is an indie alternative/pop-rock band I discovered about two months ago with their latest release, Flavours, released as a long-play album on December 20, 2020. For those who haven’t heard about the band before, Fortuan have started their careers with a single called, Fortuan in 2018, and released three more singles since then, Time (2019), Force (2019), and Melodies (2019). Now, please give it a listen while reading the rest of the article.

Fortuan is a young band out of Bratislava, Slovakia, still trying to follow their passion even in these crazy times our world is going through since February/March 2020. Doesn’t matter how much we try to ignore the negativity and continue following our plans in life, everybody’s got affected at some point. I have been a passionate music fan all my life, have had a decent experience in being a semi-professional in the music scene, and I truly appreciate everyone who makes releases. You might disagree with me in this but just keep in mind that making a record can cost thousands, which these young Slovakian gentlemen sacrificed instead of buying a car or going on a vacation. They undoubtedly deserve all the respect and support for their efforts.

As I usually do, I listened to the album a few times (even more times than I usually do) before writing my review. There are both positive and negative aspects here to mention. I personally do believe that bands and artists should be aware of their character, style, strengths, and weaknesses in order to put out a successful work, especially in this super-competitive era. Our ears are used to hear top-quality music, engineered and produced by world class producers in the world. Even though the technological developments helped musicians, gave them the ability to record and produce their music in their home studios, only these producers at the top of the world can make a big difference.

Flavours is a truly long record with 14 songs, and the general style is pop-rock. First of all, all songs have easy listening instrumentation and build. You easily get used to this music and listen to the whole record. Honestly, I just played the album a few times while I was busy doing my other work, and that would be a lie if I say I didn’t enjoy it. I know the fact that so many of us started listening to 90s easy listening indie and pop-rock music before listening to metal such as Rem, No Doubt, and Cardigans. 

I can hear that the band has decided to keep everything as simple as possible in terms of composing and instrumentation. Musically, nothing modern caught my attention; their foundations are mostly coming from the traditional indie and pop-rock.

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On the other side of the coin, there are some small details that make a big difference in the end, as I have mentioned above. I can clearly see that this album has lost most of its potential because of lack of experience and poor production. I am 34 years old, playing music since primary school, and have been making it professionally for ten years now. I am still getting surprised every time I discover something new and find out how much I still have to learn. Recording a successful album is probably less than %50 music; the big part is production and experience. In our case, I am afraid Fortuan couldn’t put the actual potential of these songs into the tape.

I can’t say I am positive about the overall mix at all. The album sounds too much like a pop album, where instruments sound lower than the main vocal line, which is one of the very common approaches. However, bands like Fortuan need a specific approach that will suit them, not trying to form the music for your own mix even if this is their desire. Applying Michael Jackson’s mix to Metallica or Coldplay’s mix to Jennifer Lopez will never give you anything satisfying in the end, and unfortunately, that’s what happened here. I know the band has mixed this album themselves, and I am afraid they have done a poor job. Vocals sound overly processed, to a level where the voice lost its origins. I can hear that the vocalist of the band Jakub Hančin has a very specific voice that needs a very specific approach not only while recording, engineering, or mixing but also in the making (production).

We live in an era where never been this many active musicians and bands making and putting out music every single day. This is good and bad at the same time cause I don’t believe in quantity over quality when it comes to art. True art requires time. The spirit of our era expects everybody to be flawless by educating listeners’ ears with music from world-class producers. This is something that everybody should take into account before they do something, cause people just don’t accept anything lower than this. I am just being honest here. In Fortuan’s case, the lack of experience has a role in everything they do, such as in their lyrics, music videos, visuals, and the album production itself.

When I take all these into account, I’d like to say that I have had a good time listening to Flavours. As I said earlier, I have so much respect for their passion for music and efforts; I am positive towards Fortuan despite everything. When we put emotions aside, experiencing something like this, making mistakes at a young age is a very good thing. All they have to do is to learn from their mistakes and come back with a better album, just like Michael Jordan once said; “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Please go ahead and check out the links below if you’d like to find out more about the artist/band, follow them on social media and subscribe to their channels to show your support and not miss any upcoming releases.

Fortuan – Flavours Album Review and Band Interview | Metalhead Community | Heavy Metal Blog | Metal Music Magazine
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In conclusion, Metalhead Community Team congratulates FORTUAN for their new album FLAVOURS and wishes them the very best in their future careers. Don’t forget to check out our exclusive interview with the band!

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Exclusive Band Interview

Fortuan – Flavours Album Review and Band Interview | Metalhead Community | Heavy Metal Blog | Metal Music Magazine

Q1- Let’s begin with the current situation, the Pandemic. How did it affect Fortuan? How do you feel yourselves at the moment?

Well, it affected us a lot, all our planned shows were cancelled and it even restricted us from rehearsing at times when our country was and still is at a national lockdown. Right now, we are trying to consult making new material through various video-conference pieces of software but it can never match the personal contact we were having prior to the pandemic. We will be happy if we can have even one concert during 2021 as the situation in Slovakia is severely bad right now. We hope that the vaccine will bring us the world we had prior to this chaos.

Q2- What does Fortuan mean? What can you tell us about the name?

Fortuan is a phonetic transcript of three numbers, four-two-one which is the telephone prefix of Slovakia. If you want to call anyone in Slovakia, you always start the telephone number with +421 or 00421. We wanted to find a name that would address the fact that we are Slovak while having an English (or pseudo English) name that anyone can easily read and remember as all the lyrics of our songs are in English as well. Four-two-one or as we simplified it, Fortuan, perfectly fitted that description.

Q3- What can you tell us about your latest release, FLAVOURS? What is the story behind this album?

The name of the album was chosen as a simple metaphor for the variation of tracks that are present on the album. While we identify as an indie rock band sometimes is very hard to place our songs into a single rock genre. We like all sorts of music and you can spot this in the tracks very easily.

For example, one song of ours has strong reggae influences, one sounds a little like The Police, the other sounds like R.E.M, one resembles AC/DC’s Thunderstruck too much (we found out around a week after we had it recorded) and another one has Billie Eilish style, whispering kind of vocals in one verse.

Each song has a different meaning. One song is about this filthy bar that we used to play for 5 years as a cover band where people would angrily yell at you for ending the concert after 4 (!) hours of cover music. We have had all sorts of stories from that bar. Once, a guy tried to steal our tips in front of ours eyes from a tip box by pretending to fall on the stage while dancing and then kicking the tip box away and then stealing a 20€ during the process. Another time, I have seen a guy vomit around 2 litres of fluids in one go around 1 meter from all our equipment. Another time an old drunk guy came and gave us his phone number on a piece of paper, saying to call him. We never found out why to call him and we never dared to do it.

That is the song called Armsman which our album starts with as a symbol of the cover band we evolved from. We have a love song called Force representing an mysterious,untangible force dragging people towards each other that our singer composed for his wife. Another song called Mistakes is a story of a god who has to relive the lives of every single person on earth who has ever lived to learn a lesson.

In contrast to that we have a funny, easy song (the reggae one) called We Aren’t Getting Any Younger about aging that makes fun of this process that everybody fears and hates. The album is a nice cocktail of Flavours for anyone who likes rock music and does not want to listen to an hour of the same tune.

Q4- How was the recording process of FLAVOURS? Where did you record, and who was the producer?

We produced everything ourselves. One day, we decided to save up some money for the studio and record our songs in quite a tight budget. We were recording the songs in a batch of 3 songs per recording session, starting in October 2018 and finishing in April 2020. So if you are wondering how long it takes for 3 guys with a day job to compose, record, produce, mix and master a 12-track album on a budget that our wives would not hate us for, it is around 2 years.

As this was our first record, you can definitely spot that it was not produced by a Grammy-awarded producer, but we did our best to keep the listener entertained. However, we plan to change that, as we got in touch with some really great mixing engineers and producers that we want to bring along for the recording of the upcoming single of ours, but that is a topic for another time, with another record. The record Flavours was recorded in Bratislava, in LOFT studio with our friend and mixing engineer Jaro Žigo jr. who helped us a little with production as well, mainly during the first recording sessions when we didn’t even know what we want to create.

Jaro plays in a Slovak reggae band called Medial Banana, probably the biggest Slovak reggae export, you should definitely check it out – how often can you hear reggae in a Slavic language? Jaro did all the mixing and mastering of the songs and we are very grateful to him that even though he is not a rock-focused engineer per se, the sound quality, given the pathetic budget we had, is excellent. However, we plan to collaborate with some external help in terms of production, mixing and mastering for our future releases, stay tuned for more.

Q5- How is the feedback so far?

Our fans love the tracks. Every person that kept an eye on our recording process says that each respective batch of songs is better than the previous one (fun challenge : try to spot which songs on the album belong to which of 4 batches). We love that as it keeps us motivated to keep up the hard work. The only piece of feedback we are constantly given is that we should make music in our mother tongue in Slovak instead of English but we are successfully ignoring that piece of advice.

We are also planning on bringing in some elements of a more modern production as we realized that a lot of our music resembles the old-school rock music of the last century.

Fortuan – Flavours Album Review and Band Interview | Metalhead Community | Heavy Metal Blog | Metal Music Magazine

Q6- The world is going through difficult times, and a young band from Bratislava is still making releases. That’s admirable. We would like to know how difficult it was to motivate yourselves for this album project? Did this period have any musical impact on this album?

The recording phase of the album was nearly finished when the pandemic kicked in, so there was barely any impact on this album. But we heavily suffered on the financial side due to absence of live shows.

However, we raised some money to finish the album with the help of our fanbase and crowdfunded a small portion that was left to pay. What is extraordinary about this period is the fact that in one of the songs, we are talking about a metaphorical virus in people that is the symbol for greed and our ignorant way of life. The song was created in the middle of 2019, much sooner than the pandemic broke out, but I guess we will be accused forever of getting inspired by current events.

Q7- What can you tell us about the short and long-term objectives of Fortuan? What is the next goal at the moment?

The next short-term goal is to produce and record our next song that we want to sound like a mixture between Awolnation, Imagine Dragons and Coldplay. We decided to release less songs this year, but quadrupled the budget for each song, so that this next one should sound much better and have a much better visual than what we used to release in the past.

Another short-term goal is to shoot a video for one the songs from the Flavours album which is meant to be the last single of this release.

The long term goal is simple, we want to be the first international Slovak band to succeed internationally, whatever that means. We want people to love our music as we loved the music of the great bands that came before us and we want to leave the future generations a legacy. So the natural long-term goal is to become such a band 😊

Q8- Fortuan has 8 released videos on their Youtube Channel, and all those songs are in this album. Are you guys planning to make any other music video releases in the near future?

Yes, we plan on creating one low-budget video for the song We Aren’t Getting Any Younger and a high-budget one for the upcoming song that will be called Laser beam. We are thrilled to do that and a little scared as we have never invested such a large sum of money into a single song.

Q9- Fortuan is actively making music for more than two years now. When you think about FLAVOURS album, where do you think Fortuan is at the moment in terms of music style? Can we say this album represents the ultimate Fortuan music style? Please tell us about the band’s musical direction?

This album is merely an appetizer of what our music sounds like. We have had and we still are having a hard time placing ourselves into a single genre, we like to think of our music as pop-rock or indie-rock.
We simply like to compose interesting songs and we like traditional instruments such as guitars, pianos and a traditional drumkit that gets more and more frequently replaced by a programmed drum machine.
We believe in authenticity, in old-school way of recording music while incorporating interesting modern sounds. That is the musical direction we would love to keep. Great beats, great tunes, great vocals. Quality rock music.

Q10 – We are all aware that Fortuan is not just a hobby for you; it’s much more than that. How would you describe the meaning of this band to you? Where would you like to get in the end?

It’s a long-term art project that we enjoy doing. To me personally, I simply love the process of recording a song. How the song gets more and more distinctive image, how it all starts making sense at some point of the recording, I really love watching that.

In the end, we would love to become a band people will enjoy listening to, we hope to become an important part of their lives, to entertain them in the good times and to help them get over hard times.

Fortuan – Flavours Album Review and Band Interview | Metalhead Community | Heavy Metal Blog | Metal Music Magazine

Q11- What makes a band “Great” in your opinions?

Great production, great instrumentalism, great lyrics, catchy tunes and authenticity. In no respective order.

Q12- Top 5 albums that influenced Fortuan’s music?

Pearl Jam – Ten
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
R.E.M. – Automatic For The People
Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion I+II
The Police – Synchronicity

Q13 – Lastly, what would you like to say to our readers?

I would like to encourage everyone who feels like he has what it takes to make music to give it a try. You never know what you are going to find (funny enough, we have one song that has this very same sentence and topic). Or if you always felt that you want to try to play an instrument, this is a great time to start. It costs much less money to buy some starting gear than many people think. There are tutorials for nearly every song on every instrument you could think of, this is something that was not available 10 years ago. Take advantage of that.

I would also like to ask everyone to help us overcome this pandemic by following the simplest health-related rules as wearing masks, keeping distance and washing their hands. The sooner everyone does that the sooner can the music we all love, no matter the genre, return to venues.

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