With the publicity circus the music biz has become, every now and then, an artist still manages to shine through off the merits of their artistic credibility alone. No goofy Youtube advertisements. No scandalous or felonious headlines. Just the music. In 2010, that description has a name and its name is Gilbere Forte’.
In the midst of increasing his stock from his remarkable debut, 87 Dreams, Mr. Forte’ steps in the smoker’s area with TSS Crew’s TC to discuss his past, present and future calculations. One thing is for certain: 30,000 miles in the sky is simply a trip around the corner for this kid.
TSS: When going into a project as layered and diverse as 87 Dreams, did you say you’re going to make it for you or what you think fans might want to hear?
Gilbere Forte': The interesting thing with me is I make music that feels good to me. So going into it, I was like “yo, I want to make something that’s going to be the soundtrack to my everyday life.” And I felt like there’s so many qualities about me—that people can relate to. Whether you’re living in the states or abroad. So I started to sequence the project together, almost like a movie. And after it was finished, I was like: “Look. I know after everybody pushes play, they gonna be like ‘O.K. who’s this guy? I never heard of him. But I like it.'” I’m a perfectionist so I wanted to make sure everything was just right. From the instrumentation on down. So upon encountering this new experience of listening to the music, it’s just one big BOOM at the same time.
TSS: You obviously have some musicianship in your background. What is your background exactly? Did you play instruments in school? How did it all begin?
Gilbere Forte': Production was always something I was interested with as a kid. I was always a fan of instrumentation. I dibble-dabbled with instruments as a youngster; I was the kid who took the beatmaking classes and went to the conferences. But once I learned the format of how to put a beat together, everything just transpired from that. I started to work with programs like Reason and moved on to Logic. Once I figured out how to make everything come together like cinematic stuff from films, I started getting hooked on sequencing it. I used to just play stuff by ear. I try to sequence every beat—or instrumental I should say—as if it was a movie itself. And I got a lot of inspiration from that from watching movies with my family. Everything from box office hits to VHS tapes.
Also, I was a big fan of the Bee-Gees, Sade, Hall & Oates and Michael McDonald and you can hear a lot of that vocally in the tracks I’m singing on. You know, most people would be like “let’s hear some soulful sense.” But the interesting thing was I was always a fan of Hall & Oates. I was always a fan of Phil Collins. So I try to take the influences of that and mix it with the soulful stuff I was presented with coming up as well. It’s kind of like I’m fusing everything together to make something pure.
TSS: Interesting fusion. Coming out of Philly, a lot of people would automatically associate the Hip-Hop sound with rugged acts like State Property and of course, The Roots. And here you are with an even more different sound that you reflect in your music. What’s the reception been like in your city?
Gilbere Forte': It’s been good. I’ve been here for awhile now and with me being that I was orginally from the Midwest, people still say “this kid’s from Philly. He knows what’s up. He’s been here for a while now, he knows the name of the game.” But when you listen to the music, they be like “Yo! He doesn’t have too much of that Philly slang. Let’s dig into it.” And when you dig into it, you see the influences from the Midwest.
So it’s been good. To see somebody who was originally from the Midwest get that love from someone who was born and raised in Philly, is always good.
TSS: Where are you from originally?
Gilbere Forte': I was born in Flint, Michigan.
TSS: It’s so cold in the D!
Gilbere Forte': (Laughs)
TSS: You explained the name of 87 Dreams in several of your interviews. To clarify, it took you 87 Dreams to get to this point where you’re at in life?
Gilbere Forte': Yeah, I would say 87 Dreams – conceptually. I would say it took me 87 Dreams to get here…as a human being.
TSS: How long did it take you fully create the project and realize its vision?
Gilbere Forte': It took about 9 months as a whole. I made most of the records and started to sequence it as I saw fit.
TSS: Songs like “Blo” and “Money,” sound like they might have been influenced by the likes of Drake. Would that be an accurate assumption?
Gilbere Forte': Uhhh…no! The interesting thing about songs that I’m singing on—I’m just showing the progression in the music; showing that I’m capable of rhyming and singing—but I’m writing to a different emotion each time. That’s why when you listen to a song like “Blo,” then you listen you listen to me sing on “Why I’m Here,” it kind of sounds like two different people because I project my voice in a certain way that creates a new emotion each time.
I try to stay away from creating a fixed emotion to the listener. I don’t want people to be like “I know that’s him!” or “I know exactly who that is” as soon as the track comes on. That’s a fixed emotion. So by projecting my voice differently each time, I’m writing to a different emotion so the music is always a surprise every time you listen to it.
TSS: Your music does have that imaginative feel to it. What would be the ideal stage performance for you to convey it into a live show? Opposed to just going to a set fixture or venue, what could you see 87 Dreams doing in concert?
Gilbere Forte': I think it could be big. I’m a true fan of live shows from everything I ever been to and just being a fan of music. So I think having a live band on set with me, having back-up vocalists, having guitarists, having drummers – having a little bit of everything that would make the set everything I want it to be. I want the performance to look like a movie.
TSS: Is there a chance for an 87 Dreams tour in the near future?