From pouring his heart out over songs about break-ups to crafting cheerful, sun-soaked melodies, Forrest Nolan hooks listeners in with his sincere approach to songwriting.
We chat with the up-and-coming ‘Summer Vibe’ singer about his music and constant growth as an artist.
After years of honing his songwriting and music production abilities, Forrest Nolan is ready to show the world what he’s capable of.
The blossoming indie pop singer has kept himself busy this year, releasing reflective songs about heartbreak and the act of moving on.
From the emotionally heartfelt ‘Still Friends’ to the tearfully bittersweet ‘Second Base’, there’s no doubt that the 22-year-old is an artist worth paying attention to.
Even more so, fans were hooked with his massive hit ‘Summer Vibe’, an earworm of a song that will instantly transport you to the beach with its cheerful mood and easy to sing along lyrics.
Baby you’re my summer vibe / Take your picture while we’re bathing in the summer light / If you want it girl I got it / Twos enough to party / Three o clock is just the time to get the summer started o yeah
Last month saw the release of ‘Hotel Room’, a song about needing to take time alone after the end of a lengthy relationship, and the fear of breaking the news to close friends and family.
Naturally, we asked him to come out of hiding so that we can have a chat with the young talent, and take a deep dive into his music and career.
AsiaLive365: Hey Forrest! Thank you for taking the time to be here for this interview. How are you?
Forrest Nolan: Thank you so much for having me here. It’s such an honor to speak to anyone at all. I’m doing well.
AL365: Just to start, tell us more about yourself. How did you become a musician, was it always something in the cards from the very beginning?
FN: I started singing when I was four, I was in a boys’ choir. Because I started singing at a pretty young age, I got a lot of practice in that boys’ choir to the point where I was the assistant director. That was a very integral experience to my kind of musicianship and appreciation for music. I think that shaped my taste for music as I kind of grew up.
I wanted to love music and songwriting so I started to listen to stuff outside the boys’ choir. One of my favorite bands of all time is Radiohead. After high school, I got into popular music, and funny enough, now I really love Drake who I used to hate on. I was more into Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, now I’m way more into the pop stuff. It’s kind of the foundation and this newer appreciation for popular music that led to the music I make now.
AL365: Well, you have a great singing voice and are a pretty talented individual when it comes to songwriting. I believe this was the first year that you’ve been dropping a string of hits from ‘Still Friends’ and ‘Second Base’ to ‘Summer Vibe’ and ‘Hotel Room’. Was there a significant moment in which you decided to start focusing on releasing music?
FN: I’ve been putting out music for actually even longer than just this year. I had a band in high school, and we even made an entire album and almost made a second one. We were way ahead of ourselves, and that really didn’t go anywhere. We were being super experimental and somehow we thought it would connect to people but I still go back to it and listen for fun. It’s still meaningful to me. That was an important experience.
Following that, I released some songs as a solo artist under a different name, and actually I just ran into legal trouble because the name was already taken. So I had to change the name, and decided to just restart all together. So yeah, this year is really when I started to put out music officially, and it has also felt like for the first time the music really sounds like what I’d always heard in my head a long time ago, or like the music I always wanted to make. I think it was a perfect timing for myself, and it’s been a really fun year.
AL365: You went by the name Ponyboy FTO, right?
FN: Yeah! Wow, you’ve done your research, oh my gosh. The name’s a throwback at this point. For Ponyboy FTO, there’s going to be a shoutout in my next single. I think the name will maybe make a return as my producer tag because so far I produced all the songs in my own name. I anticipate that as being kind of a big part of my future. I love music production as much as songwriting.
AL365: Let’s talk about your songs. Let’s start with your latest single, ‘Hotel Room’. What’s the story behind it?
FN: Well, ‘Hotel Room’ was written as a part of a string of songs reflecting on the experience of being broken up with. This song in particular was about a time where I had just been broken up with, and it took me like weeks before I even told my family that it happened. My mom had to ask me if I had broken up, so I let her know the news. I was almost embarrassed to tell my family and friends, so I felt like I wanted to get away from everything, and just be on my own. So going to a hotel room was a metaphor for that experience and just having time to reflect on things.
AL365: You mentioned that there are a string of songs that form a unifying theme of heartbreak. I was listening closely to the lyrics of ‘Still Friends’ and ‘Second Base’, those are the tracks that you were referring to right?
FN: Yeah exactly, you’re very perceptive. Those would be the two songs. ‘Summer Vibe’ is not part of that. With ‘Hotel Room’, it felt kind of interesting to go back to that space but sonically it was the right place to go as far as constructing this new narrative of who I am and letting people know what sounds I like.
AL365: You self-directed the music video for ‘Hotel Room’. Were you always interested in making videos?
FN: I actually do enjoy making videos. I worked on that together with my younger brother. He actually helped make two videos before that, for ‘Second Base’ and ‘Still Friends’. Learning how to edit is very parallel to editing music, the software is designed in a similar way. I think it’s fun, it’s a great learning experience but it’s definitely just something I don’t have a ton of experience doing. I’d rather let people who are better at it do that for me. For instance, ‘Summer Vibe’ we worked with a director named Eliot Lee. He did a really incredible job, and I think that’s probably what I’m gonna do going forward except for particular circumstances where I just feel inspired to do something on my own.
AL365: Apart from the sad songs, you’ve dropped ‘Summer Vibe’. I believe that’s the one that went really viral. Were you surprised at the amount of attention it received? How did that happen?
FN: It is my favorite song. Prior to that, it was a great learning experience to write those string of songs about being broken up. It was during the time when I started to get into pop music, so it was really practice in trying to write that style. I wrote ‘Summer Vibe’ after all that as well as ‘Sinatra’. It is interesting to see that those two were the ones that connected with the most people, and I would even say, it’s kind of validating to know that my skills seemed to get better
As far as the numbers go, it was cool. I would still say it feels like such a blessing. I feel so lucky to have anyone listening to the music at all. It was still a surprise in that sense because it’s crazy to think I did that myself. That song was really special to me, and it was very validating.
AL365: For me, the one track that really does stand out is, as you’ve already mentioned, was ‘Sinatra’. It’s quite different from the rest of your discography. How did that come about? Why did you decide to write a song based on the style of the great Frank Sinatra?
FN: The honest answer is that I was experimenting with the TikTok app and trying to come up with content that I thought would be entertaining for people. My hook was, ‘This is a song written in the style of Frank Sinatra’. The song is really more in the style of this group called The Ink Spots from the 40’s, this is pre-Frank Sinatra. But I figured it would be more familiar if I name it ‘Sinatra’ for people to connect on TikTok. I can imagine it is a little confusing for people because I don’t anticipate making music that sounds like that for a long, long time. It was really fun but I think it’s such a distinct style that would just be hard to pivot from. It’s not really my focus going forward, but yeah, I can understand if it sticks out.
AL365: I actually went on your YouTube channel and found that one of the earliest songs you’ve released is a song called ‘Frozone’. It had more of a hip-hop vibe that’s so different from what you do now!
FN: Oh my God! (laughs) Yeah, you can’t find that one on streaming services. That was from my Ponyboy FTO days. That was another practice song in making music that sounded like Travis Scott, who is an artist I look up to. I took a lot of inspiration from the production of his projects. Of course, I’m always learning and that was during the early days of my learning process. It’s fun but pretty embarrassing to go back to.
AL365: When can we expect a full album from you?
FN: I’m super, super excited to announce that I am going to be releasing my debut EP. It has seven songs, all of which are new, and it will be coming out in November. Before that, there will be two singles, the first of which is coming out next week on September 29. It is very much my favorite song that I’ve made, at least of everything that’s come out so far, it’s one that is super important to me. So that’ll be a really fun moment.
AL365: Cool, looking forward to it. That’s all the time we have for today. Thank you so much, Forrest.
FN: It’s been a pleasure talking to you, I appreciate your deep dive into my catalog! That was very meaningful to me. Have a good one, bro.
Forrest Nolan is currently on tour with Gracie Abrams. Check out his music on Spotify below.