A Conversation with Forrest Nolan

Forrest Nolan is truly one of the most promising up and coming talents in the industry. Odds are if you’ve heard one of his songs, you’ve experienced his dynamic vocals and innate talent. I’m a huge fan of his music, but I’m even more of a fan of the person he is. Instead of just writing an article about his recent tracks, I thought it would be immensely beneficial to sit down and chat with this exceptional individual. To get a refreshing dose of good conversation, continue reading down below!

Sam: Alright, tell me about yourself, your upbringing and how you came to love music yourself?

Forrest: So, I grew up singing in boys choir. That has been my foundation for music and I started that when I was four. It wasn’t something that I was ever excited about though. I think maybe if it was co-ed and I got to meet girls, but no, it felt like a pretty nerdy thing to do, but I owe my music director kind of everything, because I just learned so much from having that experience. Being in that world my whole life made me develop an appreciation for more experimental music throughout High School. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the band, Radiohead…they’re not super experimental, but they’re one of the bigger artists that made it while diverging from popular music’s standard of structure and all of those things; So I was into that type of music for so long and it took me getting into music production at the end of High School to start appreciating pop music, and then, as soon as that happened, that became my obsession and these last two releases, even the last three, they’re not really pop songs. I think the last two don’t even have choruses or hooks. They do have melodic patterns, but yeah, they don’t have what people would tend to call a chorus. The songs coming later are the ones that I’m really excited about. They’re more recently written and they’re more in a style of music that I’m more currently into…And those older songs were still kind of attempts at writing pop, but I think I’ve gotten a lot better. So yeah this next one I’m excited about…

Sam: Were your parents musical at all/did you pick any talent up from them?

Forrest: I mean, I think interestingly enough, my parents are musical, but it wasn’t either of their professions. My mom would write songs for us growing up. She’d make up lullaby’s and  I can still remember that I later found out that she just came up with them. My dad was really into listening to music and was always putting me and my siblings on to really cool artists. That’s one of the reasons why I got into Radiohead. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the artist, Elliot Smith but these are more outside of the Lyrical Lemonade space. Elliot Smith is a very folk singer/songwriter dude; But anyway, I would say they were both musical, but I think the fact that they both wanted to put me in a boys choir is a characteristic of their personality. I don’t know, I guess I might be underrating their musical abilities. The reason why I ended up playing guitar was because we had like four guitars in the house and we had a piano in the house, which I really have to give credit to them. The most important thing  for me growing up musically was singing in the church choir and the second most important thing was having a piano in the house. I think the tool of a piano is so interesting. It’s one of the only instruments where it only takes one motion to make a sound, so it’s very easy to start making these associations with the notes and movement. If I didn’t have a piano growing up, I feel like things would be really different honestly.

Sam: Do you think when you have kids one day, you’ll push them to play music as well, or at least have an appreciation for it?

Forrest: I think I probably would definitely push an appreciation for it, and I think similarly, I would love to have an acoustic piano in the house. And I’m sure I will because I love music enough to just want it for myself and I’ll definitely have guitars around the house. I don’t see myself forcing them to have a music career. I don’t know. Maybe there’s more to learn about myself.

Sam: That’s dope. Another crazy question. What does your girlfriend think of all of this? What’s her perspective on all of the success you’re having?

Forrest: It’s interesting. We kind of have parallel arcs as far as our careers now. She’s doing landscaping and looking at revisiting having her own business. She’s about to start it up with her friend just at the same time as I’m about to move to LA, things are picking up for her, so I think it’s really helpful that we both have these things that we can be really excited about. But the whole time, it’s pretty crazy for me since this whole experience has been so mind-blowing over the past year and it’s been really fun getting to see her excitement about it all. Even her roommates, they’re all hyping me up all of the time, so it’s cool to have that kind of support system.

Sam: I mean, it’s sick bro. What you’re doing is something that people dream of. You’re going to be a legitimate star. When people hear Forrest, that’s a name they’re going to remember.

Forrest: I appreciate that so much. It’s funny…The name has always been the thing that I’ve been least confident about so it really is helpful every time someone tells me that. Of course for me, it’s the name that I grew up with, so it’s awkward, but, yeah before this, I was going by the name, Ponyboy FTO and we couldn’t get the trademark.

Sam: When did you change it from Ponyboy FTO?

Forrest: That was like three months ago or so!

Sam: Okay, that makes so much more sense. I know that name! Okay, so let’s back track a bit. Tell me a bit about the beginning of your artist career. When was the moment you told yourself that you were going to pursue this for real?

Forrest: Yeah, it’s definitely related to what I mentioned earlier. When I graduated High School, I decided to do community college. I actually did opera at my performance arts High School and I then got auditions at Julliard when it came to taking those next steps and I ended up getting rejected there. My kind of whole feeling about whether I was going to do opera was because, that’s probably an even harder career to make than being a regular popular music artist. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I always felt like, if I wasn’t going to go to the best conservatory for Opera singing, then I didn’t want to do it. I only applied to Julliard and I was pretty confident. I had a good audition and I did a lesson with one of the teachers and they kind of told me, let’s do zoom lessons over the summer, so I was like, I think I have a good shot of getting in. I ended up getting rejected still and that’s where I realized, if that was my feelings towards opera the entire time, then I obviously wasn’t very passionate about it from the beginning and I made the connection that I just loved performing and I loved music and that I love singing too, so I ended up taking a year off before going to community college and I did this with a band I was with as well; sorry, there are so many parts to this story. At the same time I was doing opera, I was in a band in High School and we did that and then they went to their respective colleges after that gap year and I just stayed in the city doing community college while living at home and did a bunch of general ed courses and grinded doing music that whole time as well. Just watching tons of youtube videos…It took years of practice, like I said, I also didn’t listen to pop music until then, so it was kind of a new thing for me, so yeah I  had a lot to catch up on in that regard. And after all of these years, I’m finally at a place where I can  write music that people seem to be into and yea it’s been super fun.

Sam: When was the first moment where you felt like this could actually be a thing? Like when was that first gut feeling, heart dropping moment?

Forrest: That question is so cool because I wouldn’t expect a lot of people to know that that’s a thing that happens and I mean it happened many many times where I just felt like that. More than anything, I’m really considerate of the fact that even if I make an amazing song, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to have a successful career, but that being said, I’ve had those moments where I was like, wow, these songs are exactly what I want to be made, like to me, this is super super fire. The first song I have out as Forrest Nolan, it’s called “Fast Car”, and I remember finally finishing the last verse. There’s this specific moment where the chord progression is actually a little bit different than the rest of the song, but it’s over the same melody and to me, those musical moments are the exact kind that I look for in the music that I listen to, or at least that I used to. That was kind of almost nostalgic in a way and yeah, I like cried in the basement alone. I was like oh my god, this is so lit, and you know, a huge part of it honestly and why it ends up being an experience for me is, in High School my dad actually passed away. And he always envisioned and dreamed that I would be doing music at least in some capacity; whether it was opera or being in a band or as a solo artist. So as much as it was kind of a euphoric experience because I love the music, it was also because I would just think that it would be crazy if he could hear this. A pretty melancholic experience, but a really beautiful one as well. I feel really lucky to have those memories and you know, I definitely use them as a source of inspiration. Yeah, it’s definitely a very real thing.

Sam: Wow man. I’m sure he’d be so proud because I’m proud. I hope you sit back and pat yourself on the back, but man take time to give yourself some props because you’re doing a great job at what you’re doing.

Forrest: Honestly, man. Thank you. That really means a lot. And it’s easy to…I mean you can probably relate, since it seems like you have a lot of ambition for yourself as well. It’s definitely easy to forget everything that you’ve accomplished and just focus on the next thing. It’s helpful to get that reminder and it’s crazy to reflect. It’s a super exciting place to be. I’m excited for you too man. It seems like you’re killing it.

Sam: Thank you man! Well now I’m curious, what do you do outside of music, because obviously you have a whole life as well. What are you into?

Forrest: I do a bunch of different things. I feel like so much of my life is revolving around helping out around my house now and also watching my niece and nephew. Spending time with family is just super important to me and of course, I love movies and television. I actually grew up with a video game console. Like an X-Box that my older brother had. Those are still functioning, so I’ll play with my younger brother. I also love going on runs and just exercising in general just feels really good for my body and I love keeping that moving. I also love listening to podcasts while I do it. Are you in to podcasts at all?

Sam: I am bro! I’m usually listening to leadership podcasts or church podcasts.

Forrest: Yeah, I think they’re such an amazing resource. Actually one of the only jobs I ever had was being a janitor at a preschool that was pretty near by and one of the things that I loved about the job is that the type of work didn’t really take a lot of mental input, so I could focus on podcasts and music. I spent all of that time learning from podcasts or studying the music that I was into at the time; and thats another thing. If I didn’t have that job, I wouldn’t have been able to invest in the type of equipment that I got. That equipment has been so important to me making the stuff I make. I would spend time listening to philosophy podcasts and it was sick.

Sam: Okay man, last question: If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Forrest Nolan: My instinct is to say, just keep doing you. Just be yourself and yeah, I guess part of where that instinct comes from is that I don’t really have many regrets. I see everything as a learning opportunity and experience and you know sometimes there are ups and downs and you gain so much perspective by going through adversity and you get so much appreciation from when things aren’t going how you want them to go. I feel like the most succinct way to put it is, keep being yourself. Sometimes things are going to get really tough but it’s going to be alright.