EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Forekast
You may remember me raving about a little song called “Sun Clouds” by a young man named Darren Ross, a.k.a. Forekast, a few weeks ago. Well upon closer examination, I discovered that Forekast’s astonishing talent did not begin and end with “Sun Clouds”. Not even close, in fact. “Sun Clouds” may not even the best track on his impressive new progressive house EP called Lost Nights Under City Lights. The EP is simply masterful from start to finish. There’s a wonderful depth to his tracks that I have a great deal of trouble articulating without growing frustrated and eventually blurting out “Dude, just listen.”
So I absolutely had to know more about this young producer. Forekast was nice enough to take time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer some of TheTopSound‘s questions. His answers are well thought out, candid, telling. I think you’ll be very interested in what he has to say.
Note to any up-and-coming DJs: Read every word of this. This young man has good head on his shoulders. He knows who he is, knows where he wants to go, and has a pretty good idea how to get there. That’s what will take you places. Also, he really is a wealth of knowledge. Read where he describes his writing process. Wonderful stuff.
Without further ado, I give you Forekast:
D.Rob: How did you originally get into electronic music? What has drawn you to the genre?
Forekast: I always sort of grew up listening to electronic music. I would say I was most drawn to the freedom that making music on a computer provided me. I could give you a long history of how I came to producing, but it was more just deciding it was now or never and forcing myself to learn. I’m really glad I did, though.
D.Rob: How did you pick your stage name? Is there any significance/deeper meaning of “Forekast”?
Forekast: I had been producing bass music under another name for a few weeks but not really releasing it. Then, 2 days before the ill Gates Methodology Workshop, we had this MASSIVE storm in Pennsylvania – probably the most intense storm I’ve ever seen in my whole life living here. It knocked out the power for 2 days, and during that time it REALLY inconvenienced everything I was doing. I had been thinking of a stage name, and that’s when Forekast came to me because of all the weather stuff. I’ve always been a big fan of weather, sunsets, sunrises, natural beauty – so it only made sense. At first it didn’t really sit well with me but I think you sort of grow into your name and it grows onto you then. It’s still weird having people address me as Forekast.
D.Rob: I see you’ve messed around quite a bit with dubstep and other genres. What made you want to make a purely progressive house EP? Are you simply better at it, or has it always been the direction you’ve wanted to take?
Forekast: Well, I actually originally got into producing because I loved the progressive house sound. But I had also always liked drum and bass and dubstep so I had always wanted to produce that. I used to make progressive house under another alias and then I formed Forekast mainly for bass music. About 2 months into it, I realized I just wanted to incorporate all styles of electronic music as Forekast to prevent pigeon holing myself into one style of music. Now I just have tons of material of all styles so I have at least 4 album releases coming out in the next 4 months that I’m stoked about.
D.Rob: What track on Lost Nights Under City Lights are you most proud of? The EP is incredible, by the way.
Forekast: Thank you! I’d have to say Change Your Ways is my favorite. That album is weird to me in a way because it was produced over such a long period of time (September 2011 until January 2012) – not that long but when you’re working with music full time it is. It had started as a single release with First Encounter and Never The Same but then I just kept building more tracks and decided to make a whole theme out of it.
D.Rob: Can you give us a brief overview of your studio? What DAW(s) do you use (FL Studio, Cubase, Abelton, etc.)? What equipment (laptop, midis, headphones, anything) do you use? Favorite synths/plugins/effects?
Forekast: My studio is basically a bedroom in my parents house. I use Ableton Live, on a PC (and occasionally my MacBook). The only gear I have is the M-AUDIO KeyStudio 49 which I don’t even think they make anymore, a Novation Launchpad, and a Korg nanoKontrol. The speakers I produce on are part of this LG home theater system I have. I wish I could afford more professional gear (mainly monitors), hopefully that will come in time. I really do feel like what you use isn’t as important as how you use it. There’s people with far less than I have doing way more.
D.Rob: Please take us through your writing process.
Forekast: This entire process changes depending on the style of music I’m writing, but I generally ALWAYS start from the same template to save time. That may be why there’s definitely a consistency in my sound from track to track (mainly just with drums). But I will explain both processes as briefly as possible (keeping in mind that I am strictly an Ableton user):
Melody oriented stuff (House, etc.): I will generally start with my template, and over time I have developed my own go to sounds so I usually know somewhat of what I want to do. After a while I developed little things that I like the sound of and so they’ve basically become like “my sound” – things like delayed arps, the plucks (I know, I didn’t invent them), etc. I will begin by writing some sort of chord progression, maybe 4 bars or 8 bars. Then I copy that over to my bass channel which is a separate synth from my plucks or main (body) synth. Once I have the chord progression, I’ll start adding synths that I know I like the sound of. I generally try not to reuse the same lead synths (the plucks are fine to reuse, they are a basis in my prog house tracks often times). But I will try to change it up. After I have a few melodies written, then I’ll get together my drum loop and then I will start arranging. I think it’s super important to get your main riff / melody down before you jump into arranging otherwise you hit a road block. I try to arrange my entire track out while listening to it as little as possible (because I know I will hear it 500 times later). Once it’s arranged roughly into a full track, I go back and add my micro breaks, fills, sweeps, and so on. That way I know if the track sounds good, then I can add the sounds that help fill it in. Think of it like polishing a turd, or as ill Gates said “you don’t have your desert before dinner, so why add your edits to your track before you’ve got a solid track done with the edits?” – I always remembered that. Overall I’d say I generally go into a track knowing somewhat how I’d like it to sound, especially after I’ve written a chord progression.
Bass stuff: This is an entirely different process from my melody based productions. I still use the same template, but tend to default on certain go to drum sounds simply because I like them and I know they work in my tracks. I usually always start with a basic drum loop, dubstep / dnb / whatever. I immediately take the drum loop into the arrangement view and will start working with synths or samples. When it comes to bass music I have a HUGE library of bass sounds that I make when I am bored and then I save them for later. That way when I want to jump into writing a bass oriented track I’m not spending tons of time on sound design. So I will spend a fair bit of time matching up samples or synths and then getting a main groove down. Once I’m happy with my riff (2 bars, 4 bars, or 8 bars – it differs) I fill it out. I will add little FX or hits that play off of the bass and drums and add more character. Once the track is almost overflowing with sounds, I know I’m ready. Then I arrange what I call my “B” section, length also differs. I will do my basic progression of sounds and build up to the break. Then I will go back and add my intro onto the beginning. When it comes to bass songs, I generally try to go into them with some sort of idea. Obviously it’s hard to have bass sounds relate to “aliens taking over the world” which is what my upcoming album relates to almost entirely, but you can have little FX and atmospheres that give off that vibe. I have really taken to combining cinematic style production with really angry drum and bass – I think I will continue to follow that style because I personally really enjoy it.
No matter what style I’m producing, I ALWAYS finish a track in the same day. There’s several reasons for that, the first is definitely frame of mind. I feel like if I start a track on one day, I need to finish it that same day because tomorrow I may not feel the same way. While I may get the entire song done in one day, I certainly will go back over weeks and months time and change things and mix it down better.
This is my overall process when producing different styles of music. Then there’s always just messing around and having neat things come about. When it comes to “happy accidents” – I would say they happen all the time. It’s always random, but sometimes I will know sort of how to make those accidents happen and do things that can increase the chances of it occurring in a project.
D.Rob: What artists inspire you and what have you learned from them?
Forekast: I am inspired by all sorts of artists, both electronic and non electronic. ill Gates has been such a huge inspiration to me with his work flow and music and just as a human being in general. I would credit that guy for almost all of the progression I have made under the “Forekast” moniker thus far. When it comes to my house music, I have to credit every artist on Unreleased Digital and the Helvetic Nerds. Artists like Dinka, Mango, Chris Reece, Daniel Portman, Mossy, Kazusa, EDX, and all of the swiss team. A lot of people probably think the “Lost Nights Under City Lights” album was inspired by deadmau5 and I will have to disagree entirely with that. I draw a lot from his drums, they are so crisp and clear, but the sounds – definitely not. Dinka is by far my biggest inspiration for my progressive house and if you listen to any Dinka track you will immediately see the similarities. Bass-wise, I’m also inspired by a lot of the major names in drum and bass now: phace, spor, misanthrop, noisia, and so on. I can only dream to one day be on their production level. I would say I learn mostly by listening to songs really carefully and then drawing inspiration from those songs. I also sometimes figure out little production tricks by listening very carefully to other artists. Imitation is one of the best forms of learning.
D.Rob: What are you working on right now? How are you challenging yourself? Are you messing around with any new software, equipment, effects, sounds, genres?
Forekast: Right now I’m currently finishing up the “Abduction Theories” album – I just finished a track last night. I’m in the middle of mixing the entire album down to get it ready for mastering, so that’s been taking up most of my free time. After that album, I have 8 tracks I’ve been working on for months that are coming out on the sequel album to Lost Nights – due out in May (we’re shooting for the 24th). I have SO many tracks coming out in the next few months, and a lot that don’t fit on albums. Last September I decided to just disappear for a while and work on my production. In that time (6+ months) I ended up producing so many tracks it’s almost overwhelming at times.
I currently have the Drum and bass album coming out in April. The Progressive house album coming out in May. A liquid DnB and Dubstep album (4 tracks) coming out in July. Then I have an experimental / ambient album I produced last september that I’m hoping to get out by August. In between these albums I hope to find the time to just release all the singles I have laying around. It’s killing me to hold on to these knowing I just have to wait and get them mastered and what not.
As far as really challenging myself, I do that by trying different styles of music. If I can’t produce a style, I spend an entire month or so working on JUST that style. Usually after a month I come out of it with a handful of tracks I’m confident in enough to let them see release. This summer I think that will definitely be electro house and big room house. I’ve always wanted to make electro but I’m just not that good at it. So I guess you can expect some electro out of me this summer for sure, on top of all the other releases.
D.Rob: What’s a day in the life of Forekast like? What do you see your life being like in 5 years and how do you plan to get there?
Forekast: A day in the life of Forekast is actually pretty dull to put things simply. I will wake up, and I always write (keyword WRITE) about a page or so of just everything that comes to my mind. I learned this from ill Gates and I feel that it helps me clear my mind and start the day off right. I tend to avoid my computer first thing in the morning and will go eat breakfast immediately. Then I try to get in some physical fitness, which is another thing I think is crucial in an artist / musicians life. Whether it be riding my bike or skateboarding for a bit – I ALWAYS try to get that in. After all of that, I get cleaned up and ready for the day. Then depending on my mood, I’ll either take care of e-mails and messages, have a session of just making sounds and messing around, or producing a song. That’s generally how every day is for me unless I’m going out somewhere or I have other plans.
In 5 years from now I KNOW where I want to be, but based on how things have been going just this year, I don’t know where I’ll actually be in 5 years. Ideally, I would like to be living in my own house, possibly making enough income to retire my parents and support them (it’s the least I could do). Maybe married, but doubtfully (I’m in no hurry for that at all). If things really played out how I want, I’d definitely like to be touring a lot and seeing places all over the world as well.
D.Rob: Any final words? Message to our readers? Shameless plugs?
Forekast: A few things. The first is that even though I’m not huge and famous, I would definitely encourage everybody to continue with their hobbies early on in life. I regret getting out of skateboarding when I was younger and I regret not pursuing producing music way earlier. As you get older, and you go into high school, you get distractions in life but if I could give anybody younger than me some real advice it would be to not ever give up on your hobbies, goals, and dreams. The people that make it big are the people that were able to keep the dream alive long enough to make it a reality. And if that was so easy, don’t you think everybody would be doing it? If you’re negative on yourself and think things will never happen for you, they probably will never happen. Always stay positive even when the world seems against you.
The other thing is more of a plug. I want to encourage everybody to download my music, share my music, and request me in your town. Do everything to get the word out there if you like my music – the internet is the best tool we have. I already know there’s not a ton of money in album sales so I have opted to release my music for free. Everybody likes free stuff, so in exchange all I ask is that for every person that downloads my albums or songs – tell one friend. If every person tells 1 friend, we can spread the word super fast. Of course, you’re not obligated to do any of that but it would be greatly appreciated.
Lastly, I’d like to thank TheTopSound for giving me this opportunity to do this interview. I can’t thank you enough. And to all of the promoters, sites, fans, listeners, supporters – thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every day that passes I realize how fortunate I am and how all of you are making my dreams come true. I never thought it would happen but it’s happening. Hard work does pay off in the long run, don’t ever let anybody tell you ANY different. Lots of love to every single person out there, thank you, thank you so much. I love all of you.
Here’s Forekast’s newest EP, Lost Nights Under City Lights. Enjoy!
Make sure to check out Forekast’s social media sites below!
Thanks Darren! Best of Luck!