Indie-rock singer-songwriter and pianist Rob Kovacs debuts the new single, “Bitter Memory,” on January 15th, 2021. The song is the latest offering from Kovacs’ forthcoming solo debut album, Let Go, to be released on February 12th. With its ambitious compositional palette and hauntingly potent songcraft, the album affirms Kovacs as a fully focused and steadfast artist, evincing a commitment and creative persistence rarely seen in our ever more short attention span society.
Let Go tells the story of one relationship, in chronological order. “The songs are about love, longing, loss, desire, confusion, acceptance, pain, the struggle to let go – all that fun stuff,” Kovacs states. “Bitter Memory” concludes the album, and reflects the struggle to move on. It was written after Kovacs received an email from the ex-love that inspired the album. “Every so often she’d reach out and it’d bring me right me back. I felt weak and powerless and, in turn, angry. The reality though, which I didn’t want to admit, was I still longed for her. Seeing and reading her messages felt good. I still hadn’t let go.” Musically, the song has a different feel from the rest of the album, complete with being in a different key, indicating that things have changed over time. “There is no chorus,” Kovacs elaborates. “Just a repeating pattern of chords that last longer and get more intense with each repetition until reaching a boiling point and release and ending in the soft, resigned ending.”
Named “Best Pianist/Keyboardist” by the Cleveland Free Times, Kovacs has been widely hailed for his shape-shifting musical experimentalism, spanning history-making classical feats and audacious recreations of videogame soundtracks to crafting mesmerizing indie rock both as bandleader and now, at long last, solo artist. Kovacs has invested more than a decade in the creation of this solo debut, a brave and bittersweet song cycle written in the years following an intensely impactful romantic relationship and then recorded over an even longer span.
Kovacs grew up surrounded by music. Inspired by his older sister to learn piano, he wrote his first piece at only 10. Then and there, he knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Kovacs held true to his dream, writing songs and fronting his first band while still in high school. Having spent his teens playing and performing, both as solo pianist and band member, Kovacs decided to study music theory at Baldwin-Wallace University, earning a scholarship after his first year. Kovacs also maintained a healthy interest in more popular strains of modern music, performing Radiohead covers alongside a guitarist friend in college coffee houses and cafes en route to co-founding the acclaimed indie piano rock trio, Return of Simple. In 2004, Kovacs made musical history as the first pianist to perform both parts of Steve Reich’s Piano Phase, simultaneously playing two pianos to accomplish the unprecedented feat.
Staying true to his initial dream of becoming a recording artist, Kovacs continued on with Return of Simple, releasing their acclaimed debut EP, Saffron, in 2006 before moving east to try their luck in New York City. Though the band met with some success, Kovacs decided to return to Cleveland where he could devote the necessary time and resources to recording his new songs, many of them reflecting on an impossible romantic entanglement that had left him questioning everything he once thought to be true about himself.
In addition to working on Let Go, he has found success as a film score composer and sound designer for video games, and under the moniker 88bit, he records and performs note-for-note piano arrangements of Nintendo soundtracks. He has also begun work on a long-gestating collection of other songs written over the past decade, as well as a fully instrumental VR game soundtrack that he proudly describes as a “kind of prog-rock synth odyssey.” Kovacs further hopes to be able to bring Let Go to the live stage sometime soon but in the meantime, he’s been adapting to the new normal by performing each and every Thursday via Twitch.