In late March, the singer-songwriter of the established Denver indie band launched a new project, releasing her first album as solo artist Fair Elle. The album, I'm Sorry You Feel That Way, includes ten tracks exploring the process of putting your heart on the line, getting it broken and picking up the pieces. After numerous successes with Ivory Circle, Hong says she was excited to break into the solo-artist scene, debuting with a subdued album that combines electronic vibes, Hong's natural voice, layered harmonies and empty space. Fair Elle's sound may come as a surprise to Ivory Circle fans — which, Hong says, was the point of all this.
"The songs I write with Ivory Circle usually go through some kind of journey of change with instrumentation and arrangement. Fair Elle feels like a more selfish, more intimate project," says Hong, who recorded and produced the majority of the album on her own — bringing in others to assist only with mixing and recording the percussion on select songs. "Ivory Circle tends to have a pretty dynamic, big sound and these are the songs I wanted to keep in that more quiet space."
Hong was intentional about capturing that quiet sound throughout the production process, limiting most songs to just a handful of tracks and instruments that she can play live. She describes the project as just one more branch in her continuing journey as an artist.
"I started Ivory Circle out of songs I wrote surrounding my dad dying, and so it feels a bit like a continuation of that," she says. "What I had pictured was a transition, beauty that can grow out of decay. I'm excited to show this to the people who want to hear it."
Hong adds that the new album draws from experiences and breakups she's gone through over the past six years or so — as does the album's title.
"It makes me laugh a little, because when I was coming up with the name, I was definitely reminded of a conversation that I had with someone who kind of ironically said the words he hated hearing the most were 'I'm sorry you feel that way,' because it wasn't a real apology," she says. "And then it was something he said to me. I think it was a bit of a way for me to have some closure."
As for what's next, Hong says she plans to continue creating and performing as Fair Elle and as a member of Ivory Circle, whatever that ends up looking like in the midst of pandemic-related restrictions.
In the meantime, listeners can catch up with Hong on Instagram at @fairelle.me and check out I'm Sorry You Feel That Way on any major music channel.
"It being an album, I just think about being like twelve or thirteen and popping in a CD, sitting on my bed and listening to an album start to finish," Hong says. "So my intention definitely was to give listeners that space; there's a lot of space just to sit and reflect."