Posted On 01 Nov 2017
UK artist Tom Forest’s debut album Hope will be released January 12th on Beverly Martel.
Hope falls into two halves—the songs written earliest in the process address the near death of Tom’s brother and explore the fragile nature of self-esteem and nostalgia for childhood. The second half is about finding a home and hope in fatherhood.
Co-written with and produced by long-term collaborator and now wife, Isabel Gracefield (Forest is her Grandmother’s name), the album was recorded over the space of month in East London. Hope is for and about their family.
Learn more about Tom Forest in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time for another All Access today! Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
– I’m filling in the answers to this sitting on the tube in London. We are in the middle of the busiest ever week for gigs, and shooting a music video on Saturday. We [tom and Isabel] are directing this one, and there’s a certain amount of DIY involved so life is pretty intense right now!
– a song that’s guaranteed to cheer us up is ‘let’s dance’ by David Bowie.
– we are loving the new album by Nerina Pallot ‘stay lucky’. It’s a smooth sounding record with very dark undercurrents. The final track, ‘bird’ is beautiful. Also, love the new St Vincent album.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
-as a child I desperately wanted an electric guitar but had no chance of getting one so they attained this mystical aura. I used to make pretend ones from bits of wood.
I was in bands at school and when that finished I thought the best way to keep making music was to keep on studying, which worked well for two years, but ended with me getting a law degree. The good part of that was I could move to London and pay my way to keep a band going, but juggling two careers was exhausting and in the end too much. A lot of the Tom Forest songs are about what happens when you take on too much and don’t cope.
Musically, did you approach this year any differently then you did last year? How has 2017 been treating you and your career? What are you most excited about for in 2018?
-2016 was all about writing a record this collection of songs as therapy for some huge changes in our lives. We made the record in a month over Christmas, and 2017 has been all about the creativity that goes around the record- coming up with music video treatments, artwork. Also, we are thinking more and more about what comes next musically and that’s where 2018 is headed.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown has affected you and your music today?
-I’m from a tiny village in England, not far from London. It was a genius move by my parents to put me somewhere that to find any trouble required a lift from them. Our village was in the shadow of London so being able to get to live music meant that I was hooked very early.
Let’s talk about your debut album, “Hope” that you will be releasing in January. What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the whole process?
-Last year I thought I would have to stop playing live music altogether. I was expecting a daughter and couldn’t imagine balancing everything. Throughout my wife’s pregnancy and my daughters early months we wrote these songs as a way of processing that change. There was so much to say. It was a surprise, and also ironic that those songs ended up re-engaging me with music more intensely than at any other point in my life so far.
Can you elaborate on what this album is all about and the inspiration for it? How did a few of the songs on the collection come together? What was it like working with your now wife, Isabel Gracefield on the songs?
There are two strands to the album. A couple of years ago my brother got really ill and we nearly lost him. Both he and I were pushing ourselves too hard. Songs like You Have a Father, Superhuman and Brother came from what I learned. From a very dark place we began to rebuild our sense of home and family, and I became a father. Isabel and I working together is always the dream for us, the thing we are seeking to do all the time. We are very lucky that we have that connection.
With the summer over now, what was something fun or new that you tried this summer?
We love surfing- I’ve been very lucky to travel to interesting surf spots like Indonesia, Peru and Australia. This year I traded in my board and embraced UK surfing by getting a big-old-board that that’s great for mucking around in small waves. I’m thinking of trying out Scotland.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
I feel very grateful that I get to make music. The state of the UK economy is only going to hinder great and diverse talent coming through; musicians that haven’t had a privileged start in life. But yes – it’s great hearing new music that challenges the way things are.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
The album was inspired by a lot of records from childhood, things our parents would listen to- we had the Black Power Mixtape on every day, a lot of Motown. We were also inspired by seeing how Hozier connected with people that you can make that kind of record at the moment. Vocally I’m hugely inspired by Apparat and would love to work with him, and we also loved Denai Moore’s album, so emotional and raw.
What do you hope fans take away from your music? Do you think there is a message to a lot of your songs?
One of the messages in the songs is that family and home are so important. It’s easy to forget that or let other things get in the way. We are formed by our families and the things they go through. We hope fans take away from the songs that whatever happens in life, given enough time and love and support you can rebuild and heal.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
For me, it’s a constantly unpredictable adventure. If you keep exploring it will always surprise you.