Get To Know Forrest Nolan [Interview]

Audrey Brandes

When Forrest Nolan first picked up my FaceTime call, he was in the front seat of his car illuminated by the Los Angeles sun, attempting to find a parking spot that would provide sufficient internet service. We laughed as he went from place to place, until he finally found a shady spot that allowed his voice and video to come through. It felt, to my pleasant surprise, like talking to a high school friend. 

AB: So, now that that’s settled, how are you?

FN: I’m actually outside my apartment that I just signed a lease for.

He explains that he just moved to LA from San Francisco and we share a momentary bond, as I tell him I’m currently road tripping to California from Michigan. For a little while, it feels like he is the one interviewing me, genuinely interested in my plans for the coming weeks. We laugh and he recommends some spots I should check out, and discuss his growing up in California.

AB: So how has your background influenced your music?

FN: I feel like the most important thing for me musically growing up was being in all boys choir throughout high school.

AB: I also did choir all throughout high school! And I actually do A Cappella here at college, as well. 

FN: No way! Is that like a “Glee” type thing? I just got into watching the show. I used to hate on it but it’s actually pretty good.

AB: (Laughs) It’s close enough.

FN: That’s awesome. Yeah, I went to a performing arts high school so everyone in our choir graduated with the intent to pursue in some capacity. I was gonna do opera, actually.

AB: Seriously?

FN: Yeah. When I got into high school, I was really interested in pursuing opera. I auditioned for a few conservatories after high school but I actually got rejected from the one I really wanted to go to. So after that, I just did a whole reconfiguring. And it made me realize that the thing I loved about opera was just performing.

AB: Wow, I would’ve never guessed.

FN: Yeah. And at the same time, I was writing a lot of music. Listening to a lot of Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Elliot Smith.

AB: Oh, that’s crazy, you just named some of my all-time favorite artists.

FN: Well, I’m in good company, then. I was actually in a band in high school and we kind of did that kind of music. Radiohead – they’re my favorite band. Always have, always will be. 

AB: I can definitely see their influence in your music.

FN: They definitely touch me in a deep way. But once I got into production, I started to appreciate popular music a lot more. I got really into that when I was in community college, really studying it on my own. It took me three years until I put out my first real piece of music. And once I finally did, people started to connect pretty immediately. And then after two singles, I had different managers reaching out.

AB: That’s awesome.

FN: It really is. I’m 23 now, so about six years later, I’ve practiced enough to write music and have people really connect with it.

AB: I’m sure that’s the most rewarding feeling in the world. Any artists who really influenced your writing?

FN: The artists I mentioned, definitely. I had a good foundation for songwriting. I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock from my dad, alt-rock stations. And my mom listened to a lot of Bee Gees, disco stuff. So all that kind of influenced me from a young age.

AB: All good influences, for sure.

At this point, we got completely sidetracked. I asked about the effects of the pandemic, to which Nolan expressed his desire to be able to perform again. But he assured me that this period has given him time to write and reflect on his own music, as well as put out new music. Suddenly, Nolan turned the interview on me, as we discussed the way the pandemic has influenced my life as a college student. He goes on to ask me about my favorite current artists, and shares his own. One thing’s for sure: Forrest Nolan is one of the most genuinely caring people in the industry.

FN: Have you heard the new Don Toliver single?

AB: No, I haven’t. Is it any good?

FN: So good. Travis Scott, Don Toliver – they’re probably my favorite on the scene right now. So who have you been liking recently?

AB: As for current artists, I’ve been really into Phoebe Bridgers the past two years or so. 

FN: Yeah, she’s incredible.

AB: You know, your single “Second Base” kind of gives me Phoebe Bridgers vibes. You both capture that really beautiful nostalgia for something you’ve never experienced. And I really loved the music video, too.

FN: Oh, thank you! That means a lot. We just found a camcorder in our house and went to the park. We actually used my niece and nephew [in the video]. We were really lucky to get the shots that we did. And my brother directed that video, and the one for “Still Friends.” It’s nice because he doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he’s great. And we’re always honest with each other. He’s kind of my vetting system for if something looks good, sounds good. 

AB: That’s so nice to have.

FN: Yeah I think this next video is very collaborative. It’s for this song called “Summer Vibe.” It’s a total upgrade from the last two videos. Real production and stuff. A totally new, fun experience. It has a whole storyline, the director was giving me all these emotions to convey.

AB: Oh, that’s actually really fun.

FN: Yeah, so basically I should be an actor now.

AB: (Laughs) Are you planning on rolling out a lot of singles?

FN: Yeah, I actually wrote a lot of these singles I already put out around the same time. I originally planned to drop an album, but logistically it didn’t really make sense. But this next single is from a little bit of a different era of my life. 

AB: Oh really?

FN: Yeah, this next one (“Summer Vibe”) is way more upbeat and has a pretty groovy drum section. I want that sound to be a big part of my identity.

AB: So what’s the inspiration behind this track?

FN: I actually remember getting out of this amazing meeting and I was super excited. Just getting to have conversations with people in the music industry has been such a far fetched idea for so long and I was super energized and needed to write this song. And it just so happened that the person I was dating at the time and I were taking a break so I just took that energy and made that real life story the setting of the song. But I wanted to capture the excitement I was feeling at the time. So there is this duality and I wanted to make it kind of hopeful. It really is a happy song.

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