“I’ve had hundreds of conversations about Slave Baby since it all took place. I’ve talked to people who hated me for it. I can honestly say that every exchange has been a lesson.”
Let’s confront the elephant in the room when it comes to Hermit’s Victory. A couple of years ago a racially charged show promo that took on the moniker “slave baby” saw the light of day in Charleston, sparking a backlash that put Hermit’s Victory on indefinite hiatus. Beyond that, it in turn sparked a much-needed conversation in the Charleston music scene about race, inclusiveness, and creating overall awareness in a city with one of the most complex racial histories in our nation.
Once you make a mistake you have to make hard decisions on how to deal with it. With Bertges it might have been even more difficult given the nature of his personality. Like his moniker states, he is somewhat of a hermit, keeping to himself and staying in a small circle of friends. Instinct might have been to run and hide, or make excuses. This pushed him out into the center of a larger dialogue and beyond his comfort zone.
“It was definitely a coming of age moment for me.” says Bertges. “In the past, I would have done anything to avoid acknowledging my moronic drawing and the surrounding controversy. These days, though, I actually see the entire experience in a positive light. Following a period of shifting blame and making excuses, I’ve become a more aware person. It sounds dumb, but that occurrence was the first time my actions felt like they actually impacted the world outside of my small bubble. I’ve had hundreds of conversations about Slave Baby since it all took place. I’ve talked to people who hated me for it. I can honestly say that every exchange has been a lesson.”
It’s a tough situation. People were hurt by the drawing. It cut at a history that is battled daily, especially in Charleston, and cut from inside a group that seemed more progressive. But people live and fight through this kind of stuff daily. We learn to listen to people who are different from us. And that’s the most important thing when someone makes a mistake of this nature. If you can’t learn and grow as a person from your mistakes, and if society doesn’t allow it, it’s a hard world to live in. In this case, the music community jumped, united, and started a conversation and brought all kinds of people together and took one more step forward.
With Easy Fruition Hermit’s Victory returns with the cover art, by Torie Leigh, referencing the overall theme of the album. Bertges says “Blocks of time, both past and present, loom large in this collection of tunes. Wolfgang and I consciously ordered the songs in a cyclical fashion with the sun rising and falling twice throughout the record’s entirety.”
In all it took between two and three years to write, record, and complete the record. In turn, it captures some of Bertges highest highs and lowest lows on a record where he focuses on lyrical content and vocal melody. It feels like a Sunday evening record, relaxed, contemplative and exploratory. It’s smooth and easy listening musically, with enough “pops and wiggles” as Bertges describes it to catch you off guard at times.
Bertges says the blueprint for this album is much like Hermit’s Victory début, with some of the biggest differences being that it isn’t as lofi. He didn’t record the vocal directly into his Macbook through the onboard mic this time around, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Most of the vocals are done in his bedroom and then transferred over to Wolfgang Zimmerman at Rialto Row where the songs come to life. This time a host of Charleston musicians recorded on the album including Johnny Delaware of The Artisinals, Christian Chidester of Brave Baby, Clay White of The High Divers, and Corey Campbell of Susto laid down parts and infused their on styles musically on Bertges hushed tracks. This time around they were more familiar with the process.
Easy Fruition is Bertges first step out artistically and he’s hopeful on the reception. Musically he’s written some of the best songs of his life with a record that’s deeply personal and reflective of where he was and is.