By Ossie Bladine • Editor • 

Fort Lean keeps itself buzzy

Submitted photoFort Lean works on their upcoming EP with mix engineer Michael Brauer at Electric Lady Studios.

Pretty much anything Brooklyn-based band Fort Lean does these days is “buzzworthy.”

It’s been a year since the group, fronted by Sheridan-native Keenan Mitchell, received praise on the New York Times blog. Their fanbase has spread through the interweb and venues across America ever since.

This fall, the group loaded up its van and drove across the country for its first West Coast swing. Fort Lean opened for Passion Pit at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland during the annual MusicFestNW. For Mitchell, it was the realization of yet another stepping stone in his career.

“(Playing the Crystal Ballroom) was a boyhood fantasy of mine. I never thought it would come true, and then it did,” he said.

“My whole family got to see it, and now they think I’m in a real band,” he added, in the cordial yet deadpan style his friends are used to.

The group played a second MusicFestNW show, opening for Future Islands, and added gigs in Seattle and a homecoming for Mitchell playing in front of mostly friends and family at the Wildwood Hotel in Willamina.

The new buzz surrounding the band comes in the form of its second EP, “Change Your Name,” to be released Nov. 13. The first single off the four-song set, “All The Lights,” debuted this week on the MTV Buzzworthy Blog.

Mitchell said the new work is not dissimilar to the band’s self-titled first EP, but it’s a more mature, more thoughtful production.

“We had a little more time to write it, more time to get to everybody’s style,” Mitchell said. “We are operating on a better understanding of each other’s musical tastes and ability.”

The band also had the luxury of a little extra studio time, and professional production. The EP was recorded at the famous Electric Lady Studios, built by Jimi Hendrix in 1970. It was produced by Patrick Wimberly of the synthpop duo Chairlift, and mixed by Michael Brauer, whose credits encompass the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Coldplay and many more.

The four new songs are a teaser for critics and fans anticipating the group’s first full length album. But Mitchell said the group was eager to get something out sooner.

“We had all the songs ready. We were ready to get some more music out in the world,” he said.

With material for that first full-length album in the works, as well as a January tour, it’s fair to say the buzzing about Mitchell and Fort Lean won’t diminish anytime soon.

Ossie Bladine can be reached at

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