Jason Forrest is an electronic music producer known for noisy experimental electronica and breakcore incorporating many idea s of mash-up and rock and roll. Largely produced and performed on a single computer (including live shows), his songs tend to be constructed from digital samples of found sounds and other artists’ music. Until 2004 he recorded under the name Donna Summer, an allusion to disco singer Donna Summer. In 2005 RES magazine named Forrest’s “Steppin Off” video, by director Jon Watts, music video of the year. In 2006 Res magazine named Forrest’s video “War Photographer”, directed by Joel Trussell video of the year, and online magazine Pitchfork Media also named it in their top 5 videos of the year. Both videos have won several awards at various international film and video festivals. Forrest has released on many labels, but primarily on Köln Germany’s Sonig record label. He also has releases on Irritant records (UK), Omeko (JP), MeWe le Disque (BE), Mirex (DE), Broklyn Beats (USA), and Hoss (USA). He is currently Creative Director and CEO of Network Awesome and Radosaur Productions.
1: Was formerly an art critic for the largest Newspaper in the southeast, USA.
2: Has never taken LSD.
3: Can play the saxophone.
What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Well, I’d say it was the band Public Enemy, and then – more abstractly – I’d say it has been my desire to re-use the old and make it new again. When I was a kid I remember distinctly the first time I was able to spot a sample. It was this one section of a Prince guitar solo which was in a Public Enemy song. The realisation that a sampled bit of music could be two artists „work“ at once had a really major impact.
How and when did you get into making music?
After high school I started to play around with making weird noise tapes and stuff, but it was always secondary to my visual art at the time. I had a saxophone, a delay pedal, a Casio keyboard, and I recorded it all with 2 radios and a video mixer. It was primitive! Then waaaaay later when I moved to NYC I was- of course- broke and making art cost money, whereas making music on a computer was free. Also at the time I was pretty disgusted with the art-world and was meeting other musicians and stuff. Somehow I just evolved into a musician myself, pretty much without ever really even deciding to become one.
What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
Supertramp- Breakfast In America
Public Enemy – Fear Of A Black Planet
Steely Dan- Katy Lied
His Name Is Alive – Mouth By Mouth
Swans- White Light >From the Mouth Of Infinity
What do you associate with Berlin?
Freedom. It’s just such an open place and living as an „arty type“ is a respected way to live your life. Of course, it’s inexpensive, there’s great clubs here, etc. But the freedom is really important!
What’s your favourite place in your town?
There’s a lot of places really, but I get really excited by the Tiergarten! I love to run there and I’m always amazed by how „away“ from the city you can get inside of it.
If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Probably Design. Maybe TV.
What was the last record you bought?
Vinyl- Paul McCartney and Wings- Greatest Hits
CD- I bought a bunch of Japanese Gabber comps in Tokyo
Mp3- Donkey Rollers – The Fusion of Sound
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I had this plan to try to collaborate with all my favorite 70’s soft-rock idols, like the guys from Supertramp and Gerry Rafferty, and folks like that – I even tried to get in touch with some of them too, but either they never replied or they never got the mail. I’ve tried to collar with Michel Gira as well and same goes for Warren Defever from HNIA (see above list) but it never worked out either- despite getting closer!
What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
As a performer- it was no-doubt Pukkelpop way back in 2003. I was on in the afternoon on a Friday at this big outdoor festival and my stage was located right by the entrance. When I went on stage there were 2, 000 young Dutch and Belgian kids there and they went absolutely insane! I couldn’t believe it! When the crowd screamed it was louder than anything I’ve ever heard in my life… As a spectator- it was probably Meat Beat Manifesto on their „99%“ tour. It was my first real out-of-body rave experience.
How important is technology to your creative process?
Seeing as my music is all made inside the computer, it’s pretty damn important. That said, over the years I’ve come to devalue the effect of technology because ideas are the only thing that really matter. Good ideas can change the world – or at least your life!
Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
I have a brother. He’s pretty different from me but we get along great. I think he’s proud of me, even though he doesn’t really get what I’m all about. My whole family respects that I’ve been able to make a life for myself and travel the world with my music. It’s a pretty special life to have and I value it every single day! It’s my dream come true.