Promising Producer and Songwriter, FOREST GLEN WHITEHEAD Discusses His Work With Kelsea Ballerini, His Search For A Mentor And More!
Posted On 18 Aug 2016
At 25 years of age, songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist are a few of the accolades found on the resume of Black River Publishing’s Forest Glen Whitehead.
Forest listened to a wide variety of music growing up in Blanchard, Louisiana enjoying everything from Garth Brooks country to Eminem hip-hop, Alison Krauss bluegrass to Aerosmith rock.
He began recording music early in high school making records for local bands as well as his own. “Discovering the technology that allowed me to record songs to a CD with my laptop really lit a fire in me.” “I’ve been obsessed with music production and writing ever since.”
Forest creatively hit it off with Black River Entertainment songwriter/recording artist Kelsea Ballerini in 2013 that ultimately led to the unmistakable sound found in her debut hit #1 single, “Love Me Like You Mean It.” Forest is a co-writer and producer of the hit single as well as her current rising single “Peter Pan” and penned six out of the 12 songs on Ballerini’s debut album The First Time.
Only half a decade into his career, this Blanchard, Louisiana native’s decision to leave home after high school and pursue his dream of a career in music is proving to be a risk worth taking.
Forest signed his first publishing deal with Black River Publishing in September of 2011 and shortly thereafter landed a cut with Brantley Gilbert’s “Lights of My Hometown” on his Just As I Am album.
For more information on Forest Glen Whitehead visit www.blackriverpublishing.com.
Learn more about Forest in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! How’s 2016 been treating you so far? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
Thank you for having me. 2016 has been equally as awesome as last year but 2015 will always be a special year to me. I had the opportunity to co-produce “The First Time”, Kelsea Ballerni’s debut album with my friend Jason Massey. From that album I celebrated my first number one song “Love Me Like You Mean It.” Her second single “Dibs” went number one here at the beginning of 2016 and her current single “Peter Pan” is in the top 10 climbing this week so life is pretty cool lately.. The past year and a half has been filled with many great opportunities and I’m starting new projects while working daily to grow as a songwriter/producer which makes the future feel very exciting.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was your family supportive of you?
Growing up I just knew that I wanted to be happy with whatever it is that I did everyday. I started playing drums at about 10 years old, took drum lessons for a few years then picked up the guitar at around 12 because I wanted to learn an instrument I could write songs to.. My earliest musical memory was hearing 90s country radio in my moms truck, hearing her singing along with Jo Dee Messina, Tim McGraw and Neal McCoy. My family has always been very supportive of my obsession with music. My folks bought me my first drum kit and payed for me to take the lessons. My grandma bought me my first guitar and a keyboard a few years later. My mom was a big reason why I started playing in church on the worship team at a young age. I stayed busy growing up playing in bands, recording, and always trying to figure out a way to survive only doing music.
How did you first get started writing songs? Was there someone in particular that mentored you and got you interested in it?
Honestly, I’m still on the search for that mentor. I know how important those can be and would love to say I had one. Early on I was more influenced by the albums I would get for Christmas or buy myself. Brad Paisley albums really influenced my guitar playing while teaching me how to write a great song as well. I wrote my first song shortly after learning guitar for a few months at 12 years old.. It was about my grandpa who had passed when I was much younger. Seeing the reaction from family and friends over the song revealed the power of music, lyric and rhyme to me and I’ve been obsessed with songs ever since.
Kelsea is one of the most talented singer/songwriters I have ever been in a room with. It is effortless for her to write and it is always an incredible day when I get to create with her. We grew up loving the same kind of music so I always enjoy getting to infuse our influences into songs we write together. She always inspires a great vibe in the room that consistently delivers a song you can be proud of. Getting to co-produce her debut album with Jason Massey will always be a highlight in my career.
How did her single, “Peter Pan” come together?
The third co-writer, Jesse Lee, had the title.. She knew it was a great title and I remember her saying if we didn’t execute it to fullest potential that she would re-write it again so that really encouraged us to make it special. It didn’t take long to write and was truly an effortless experience filled with inspiration from everyone while tying the lyric together. We always felt like it was special song form the beginning.
Generally, what’s your songwriting style work? How do you go about writing a song beginning to end?
It really is different every time. Sometimes it starts with a title, sometimes it’s a simple track I’ve started that influences melody and phrasing, sometimes it’s just strumming a guitar until something falls out that kind of makes sense.When co-writing I try to be versatile in the room and do whatever needed to get some kind of vibe going.
Who are some of your favorite artists? What musicians have continued to inspire you year after year? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Aerosmith is my favorite band, I really love the melodies in their songs, the Nine Lives album is my favorite, I’d love to work with Steven Tyler one day. Elvis Presley inspires me because I’m so fascinated how he innovated his own rock n roll sound in such a conservative time. Garth Brooks was an early influence that made me love country music. Taylor Swift is an influence because she is someone my age doing so many awesome things elevating her music career which has always helped me believe I could do the same.
What advice would you give to someone that is interesting in writing music? How should they get started?
My advice would be to always write what rings true to your heart while reminding yourself that there are no rules… Always be a student of whatever you want to accomplish with your creative endeavors. You must become obsessed if your goals are high. Write all the time. And then re-write.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
As a songwriter/producer I want to capture whatever the artist is feeling at the time and infuse that feeling into a melody and vibe that fits the message of that individual artist. Each collaboration should have its own identity true and unique to whichever artist I’m working with. My hope is that the listeners would always be encouraged after hearing my work.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about yourself or your music?
For the latest works you can follow my soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/forest-glen-whitehead