Translated by Je m'en fish/Bart Dujardin Donna Summer ain't black anymore. She ain't a woman (anymore). Also , she doesn't know (anymore) who Giorgo Moroder is, and also feels the love on a different level. And the only disco Summer still makes nowadays is 'cockrockdisco'.
You guessed it. Donna Summer ain't Donna summer (anymore). Donna summer is the alter ego of modest American Jason Forrest, now in his thirties. A new Yorker that always dreamed of a career in rock music, but never would have guessed he would actually succeed in it in such an unorthodox way. Forrest started his career as a photographer, and only started dabbling in music later on. And he still finds time to take care of his own webzine, and a radio program on WFMU. On top of it all, he writes a number of articles and reviews on all kinds of art. As of yet, he has no clue where the road will end.
Forrest: 'I like to keep busy with a number of different kinds of art. It's nice to get famous in one, well-defined specialty, but I prefer to keep busy with a larger variety, and hope people appreciate me for it. Of course, my musical work being the most succesful at this moment, I'm mainly promoting myself solely as a musical artist. In fact, it's really freaky: after keeping busy for three years on a number of artistic levels, I suddenly find myself back at Barcelona for a gig, but this time people threat me like some kind of cult-star, a semi-famous experimental musician (Forrest smiles broadly).
For all of those that were able to experience a live gig of Forrest under his alter ego Donna Summer in Barcelona, Ghent, Rotterdam, or hundreds of other places, it might be a smart move to keep your concert ticket somewhere safe. Because, as Forrest states himself, he might have to change his artist name if the original 'owner' would ever see it fit to make a problem out of it.
Forrest: 'I don't have any legal problems as of yet, and I'm most certainly not looking forward to any, but it's bound to happen sooner or later, especially with all the press coverage, the many gigs, and my output. It'll have a boomerang effect, I fear. So maybe, I'll have to come up with something else.'
Not that we have any trouble imagining Mr. Forrest coming up with a brand new and original artist name, of course. Just by taking a glimpse at his label name 'Irritant records', we are convinced his skills in that field are remarkable.
THERE, WHERE REPUTATIONS BITE THE DUST
Jason Forrest's music may often be compared with hip contemporary electronic artists such as Hrvatski, Kid 666 and Cex, but the truth of the matter is that he has been influenced mainly by artists like Public Enemy, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Van Halen, Styx and E.L.O. Newer artists inspiring him can be found in Doormouse, Veneation Snares, but also John Oswald, another plunderphonic mastermind.
Forrest: 'Oswald has been important for me since he used samples of older existing music, and remixes them into an entirely new format. To be honest, I never thought I would make any part of the so-called plunderphonic movement. I didn't really think my music was good enough, or that any people would really like it. It was one hell of a surprise (Forrest smiles broadly). All this Donna Summer stuff started as one big joke, but it got a life of it's own, and while I wasn't really convinced about my musical capabilities at the start of this, I think I might just be making good music nowadays.'
Forrest: 'If I get into the same class of musicians as Oswald, that would be superb, but what would really rock was if I could get to the same level as musicians like David Lee Roth and similar. On a musical level, I think I would be seen more as a 'complete' artist, a solid rocker that can talk about all the social problems of his time. That way, I could keep on working like I do now, using samples from all possible musical influences, but not having to follow the ages-old, pre-defined, boring rock standard using lyrics and live instruments.'
Forrest prefers to make music that is a technical novelty, but still retains a warm and human touch. Not music to analyze to the fullest or to explain technically, just some catchy sing-along tunes, perfect for under the shower. Such an idealistic image can vividly be seen when performing on stage. Forrest is one of those rare laptop artists daring to move more than a few inches away from their precious computer.
Forrest: I want my music to create some interaction between the crowd and me. I want people to be able to feel comfortable, to have fun. I want women to feel free to dance as they please, to feel as if the music is making a portrait of parts of their lives. Music to cherish, basically. Thatıs why I am so blatantly making it obvious that the crowd present can have a large effect on my music, that their reactions actually mean something to me. I talk with them. I scream at them. I go and have a dance with them. And the point is, it works! People are consistently having fun at my acts and thatıs a huge bonus for me to keep performing live. Those gigs need to be successful enough so that people will remember it and will have fond memories of it all.
Cockrockdisco, the incredible mix of samples coupled with hi-tech breakbeats, carries a strong scent of the 70ıs and 80ıs, just like Forrestıs layout of his album This needs to be your styleı. But not in a nostalgic way, or as a way of expressing some deep inner trouble, or an unhappy youth.
Forrest: 'I was born in 1972. Therefore, Iım donıt really think you can seriously accuse me of having actively followed that period in time, or for that matter, being nostalgic.'
In fact, itıs a lot more simple than that. Forrest is simply very fond of a lot of the visual and musical aspects that were so prominent in the 70ıs and 80ıs, like for instance the sound of the Studio 54ı in New york, which was both very trashy and very dandy, or the psychedelic rock of Steppenwolf, or Jefferson Airplane. Thatıs the kind of things that match way more with his interests than the times that came before that era, or our modern times.
Forrest: The most remarkable is that nowadays Iım using samples of bands I didnıt even like back in those days. Like those rock-bands you mentioned, or Joe Jackson, Supertramp, or Earth Wind & Fire.'
Forrest mainly uses easily recognizable bits and pieces of aforementioned musicians, as can be heard on his recent album. Heıs doing it on purpose, itıs all one big game. He loves it when people actively go analyzing a track and try to get together all the information about the samples used.
Forrest: Iım kind of obsessed with the idea that I can transform all the sounds I use so much that when people hear the finished product, almost all of them will recognize some part of it, but no-one knows exactly where they know it from. I love it that it keeps people guessing at a lot of what I use, and that they actually realize they are left in the dark. Thatıs the biggest kick I get out of sampling. But to be honest, I would use any sample I think is adequate enough, for the sole reason that I want to be able to produce good music. A while ago, I made a pact with myself: Donıt get stuck in one direction. Feel free to make whatever gets in your head, to use whatever sound you find and deem useful. Use 100% artistic freedom. Well, if this means that I canıt be easily classified into any existing musical style, it would seem that pact is having a positive influence on everything I make.ı
When asked about the trashy and dandy-esque 70ıs look of the cover of his new album (which he made himself), he has to think a bit.
Forrest: I have spent a long, long time working on this album. When I was working on it, I was often using Pink Floydıs 'The Wall' as background music. I wanted it to be as good as that album. Of course, that was a plan doomed to fail miserably, because 'The Wall' is too brilliant an album. But ok, I needed to get a visual representation of the album finished, taking note of all the samples I used, and all associations those carried. I had no clue what to do with it, since the album itself, musically, doesnıt have any set direction either. Then I stumbled upon an old AC/DC album (Dirty Deeds Done Cheap), and on the inside were some pictures of the band having a blast at a party somewhere in Austria. The moment I saw those, I knew I had found what I was looking for.
Knowing yourself is a great virtue. Considering founding member Andy has been running around for 6 years now using Irritantı as his family name, we know weıre in good hands. The word says a lot about his character, the bands he uses, and especially the music featured on his little creation, which he funds with all money gained with a shitty day job.
It didnıt work for us, but we can have an educated guess that most of their customers might freak out when having a look at the catalogue. Band-names and album titles might already scare some off: Donna Summer, Duran Duran Duran, Henry Kissinger War Criminal. And letıs not forget the little tidbits that were sometimes added for free with some orders back in the days when the label was a lo-fi cassette label: Lollies were acceptable enough, but used tampons might be a bit over the top for some
Other artists of note (judging by name only): Deacon Boombastardizer, Cwichlo, Moblin, Rude Boy & Pisstank, Frederic Schikowski, Mascara-Sue, Honey and kisses, Jonatan Svärd, Ryo Co, Skeep, Cdatakill, Braen Rabbit, Dopecoara, Kimonophonic, Printed Circuit, Noise Creator, Captain Ahab, Yuji. Those Irritant people constantly try to throw you in confusion. With their band names, but also with album- or song-titles like Bling The Noizeı, Sunjammer is my favorite Pokemon trainerı, Music to lose your fanbase overı, God told me to become an accountantı, Drunk on cockı, Destinyıs abusive stepfatherı,
Remarkable is that a lot of artists describe their own music on the site. Take, for instance, Captain Ahab, talking about his twelf inch Bot Pirateı: Each track is just one large complicated equation that writes all the music for me. Occasionally, I take a load of drugs, fall asleep, and wake up with a completed track. Put my funk inside youı is one of those tracks. All the music is sequenced entirely in self-written gw-basic programs on a 286. Some of the sampling is done on another computer which runs a sampler I programmed in a programming language I invented on an operation system I created myself. Of course, I build all my own hardware. Including cd players, turtntables, and the oberheim dx clone heard in 2 pi xı. The target audience is pre-teen girlsı.
We ainıt got any qualms believing that: Pre-teen girls running to the local record shop for a musical Ahab sandwich, dragging their used tampon along...
Thanks for the great article Seb and Bram!!!
Also comes with a free CD: Mind the gap 45 With a DS track: "What You Truely Need"
Translated by Je m'en fish/Bart Dujardin
English translation below