During the early months of 2020, Denver musician and Turvy Organ frontman Ilya Litoshik launched his solo act, Fire Motel, as a musical journaling exercise to help him work through the end of an eight-year relationship. The pain fueled his songwriting — and the year of COVID-19 and racial and political turmoil just kept pouring on the gasoline.
Now, a few months into 2021, Fire Motel is releasing its debut single, "So They Say," a song that Litoshik hopes distinguishes the project from Turvy Organ, his five-year-old garage-rock and indie-pop band, with a more melodic, candid style.
“I would hide everything in metaphors because I was afraid of being vulnerable,” Litoshik says of his songwriting approach with the band. With his new music, he's sharing his personal experiences and confronting his despair rather than burying them in figurative language.
Fire Motel will celebrate the release of "So They Say" at two shows on Friday, May 28, at the Larimer Lounge. Litoshik will be joined by Turvy Organ's Paul Simmons, and Allie Walls from Star Garbage will sing backup vocals on a few songs.
The track is part of a body of work meant to uplift and transform much of the chaos of tough emotions into sonically simple, danceable declarations. Yet chaos remains a constant theme throughout, because if there's one thing life promises, it's change, Litoshik says: “Entropy, right?”
Fire Motel includes synthesizers, heavy bass and confiding vocals. The music is electronic, lo-fi, and nods to the minimalism of Le Femme. Litoshik explains that he doesn’t want to overcomplicate compositions, as long as there’s a sense of movement within the bright synth sound.
And there is definitely movement.
“So They Say” oscillates between two chords, reflecting the push and pull of lyrics that find moments of light, happiness and certainty juxtaposed with darkness, depression and decay. The contrasting emotions expressed mirror Litoshik’s meandering thoughts.
"There’s a light on in the attic, but the house changes every day," he sings. It’s a line about the dusty old photographs stored in a little-used room of the house — memories preserved even as things change over time.
But mixed in with the song’s nostalgia is a sense of loss, as in the line "I understand how time works, how everything is meant to decay." Still, the inevitability of change ultimately offers Litoshik a sense of closure, helping him realize that despair will pass.
“I’m just trying to get really comfortable with myself,” says the singer-songwriter, who feels that he lost some of his personal identity during the many years of his relationship and is using this music to help map his journey to the present. The new single is "a traveling song about leaving home, trying to find a new home, and the constant struggle to find a place as home,” he explains.
But he also appreciates the transitional space, as he's always found comfort in pit stops along the highway.
“I love motels. My definition of a good vacation is to find a shitty motel and sleep in it for a night,” Litoshik says. Fire Motel is a project that searches for home within the creative process.
Even though he started working on Fire Motel songs in early 2020, Litoshik took his time developing them to a point where he wanted to share them with others. At the beginning of last year, his primary focus was Turvy Organ; the band released a song the Friday before quarantine orders started going into place. Then everything came to a halt.
“[The pandemic] infinitely changed everything about my life. … The beginning was kind of just hard to explain. It wasn’t necessarily good,” he says. “It took a moment for Fire Motel to come up from that.”
Sharing his private thoughts was challenging, he acknowledges, but it is ultimately what he wants to do, because he wants his music to help others.
“There’s a really good chance that I’m not alone with these feelings,” he says. “It’s very important [for others] to hear that people are experiencing the same thing. It’s very easy to struggle when you think you’re completely alone in horrible despair and depression.”
Hear "So They Say" and find out about new releases on Fire Motel's Instagram and Facebook pages. The band plays its debut concert at the Larimer Lounge on Friday, May 28, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. For tickets, go to larimerlounge.com.