Brisbane quartet FOREVR transcend genre, so released two full length albums to showcase their distinct sound. Our fascinating conversation with lead singer Sam George-Allen here.
How do you release your first full length album into the world? If you’re Brisbane four piece FOREVR, you release two at once of course. Laura Kebby profiles this unique experimental electronica outfit, and has a wonderful conversation with lead singer Sam George-Allen.
Trying to really pinpoint or properly articulate exactly what Brisbane outfit FOREVR sound like as they swirl through your headphones is about as impossible a task as you’re going to get, but for members Kate, Sam, Tom, and Donnie, that was kind of the point. You could probably start with an eclectic off centre blend of shoegaze - music that is named as such because members look at their pedals as they fuse together dream pop, distorted psychedelic sonics, etc - and experimental electro pop but even that mash of words barely scrapes the surface of their phenomenal sound. So when your music and signature style obliterates any sort of traditional definition genre or category, how do you introduce your debut to the world? In the case of FOREVR, you release two full length debut albums, obviously.
Think about this. The way we listen to music is constantly changing, and now we have this infinite list of tracks flowing through our headphones ready and waiting to soundtrack our lives at the touch of a button. How can we ever keep up? But with FOREVR’s epic duel debut, aptly named Classics and Death is a Miracle, the four piece have really gone out of their way to create something really special. Each member draws on their particular niche market, fusing together a technicolour dream coat of jazz, pop, electronica and folk to form FOREVR’s undoubtedly signature sound.
By revitalising a nostalgic appreciation for shoegaze and a love of dark, broody and addictive electronica, FOREVR are oh so set on making you fall in love, as they have, with the process of creating a truly beautiful and artistically influenced full body of work. As an outfit they are both unpredictable yet somehow delightfully cohesive, promising an entirely unique listening experience. Because music is always about so much more than just the finished product. It’s always about the experience and creative process behind the album that really matters, and in the case of FOREVR, prepare to be in awe of their work.
What does music mean to you?
It’s a non-negotiable. I can’t not do it. I do try not to think too hard about it, because I’m superstitious as hell and my musical practice feels so tenuous – I worry that I’ll jinx it if I over-intellectualise it. But writing songs and working on records are the only times I really get into a flow state, so all the apprehension and self-doubt are worth it for those brief glimpses of clarity. That was much wankier than I intended it to be, sorry.
Congrats on your debut! How long were both Classics and Death Is A Miracle in the works for, and what did the creative process look like in the lead up to finishing both records?
We started working on the records in earnest at the beginning of 2016 but we’d had plans for a double LP release for a while before then. It was a weird process, because we didn’t just go into the studio, spend three weeks tracking, send the tracks to be mixed and mastered, and call it a day. We did the first bit, at a studio in Hobart (it was incredible), and then we set up our own studios back in Brisbane and just kept tracking and mixing and re-mixing and tracking and re-tracking and re-arranging and f***ing with the masters and getting way too focused on certain niggly bits, so every stage of making both albums sort of happened simultaneously. By the end of it we were all pretty emotionally eroded but we are also all much better at what we do now, so I guess it all shook out okay.
Before you began collaborating as FOREVR, what kind of projects were you involved with music wise before working together as a collective?
Heaps! Tom is responsible for one of my favourite Brisbane bands of all time, Danyl Jesu. Kate used to play in this great rock band called Martyr Privates. I grew up on jazz and folk music and then started a psych band called Mega Ogre, who recorded an album with Donnie, which is how I met him and how the whole FOREVR thing started.
You released what could be considered the ultimate full body of work with two full length LPs. What was the motivation behind releasing your debut this way?
We always knew that the band could go in two directions as we developed our sound and processes, and this was a way for us to do both at the same time. It also just gave us heaps of freedom, because we didn’t have to worry about cramming certain songs or bits of songs in where they wouldn’t really work in context. Being able to experiment without feeling like we’d have to reel back the weirdness down the line led to some stuff that I’m really happy with.
The way we listen to music is constantly changing, but why do you think the full length album will always hold such significance?
I really hope the full-length album continues to remain a relevant art form. I know that the most pivotal periods in my life have been soundtracked by entire albums, not just single tracks (what’s up, every Drones album, Jagged Little Pill and that first Tame Impala record). I think there’s so much room for emotional heft when you consider the context of each song, and how it contributes to a whole that is (hopefully) greater than itself; I hope people who make music keep putting that effort into piecing the jigsaw together. It’s hard and annoying as shit though, I really cracked it when we were trying to sequence these albums, so I guess I shouldn’t proselytise too much.
What would you consider to be your favourite track, across both releases?
Billie is the most intimate song for me. Most of my lyrics are fairly abstract, and most of the songs on the records are about things that interest me or affect me, but I tend not to bare my heart with them. Billie is about my little sister. It took a long time to track the vocals ‘cos I kept choking up.
The video for your first single is so spectacularly unsettling. What was the inspiration behind the making of that clip, and what was it like collaborating with the incredible Mia Forrest?
The song itself is about a school prom in a small Texas town called Hoisington in 2001. These high school seniors went to their prom, and then emerged to find that half of their town had just been blown away by a freak tornado. I heard about it on a [podcast episode of] This American Life, and they interviewed this kid who’d been at the prom, and his house had been absolutely destroyed while all the houses across the street hadn’t been touched. He said that he was bad luck, and that if he hadn’t been at the prom the disaster wouldn’t have even happened, and that really freaked me out. So I told Mia all of this, and when she got back to me saying she wanted to shoot the clip at a debutante ball I was like, Perfect. The clip is all her idea – she’s a genius and we gave her total free reign to do whatever she wanted. Obviously I am thrilled with how it turned out. Unsettling is exactly it.
Both of your albums combine so many different genres to form a really cohesive body of work despite being spread across two LPs. What were your main influences in terms of genre and style?
The band is an intersection of a really broad range of influences. Tom is an amazing techno producer and he’s got a history in metal as well, Donnie’s obviously a shoegaze fan but also basically only listens to dance music, Kate is a fiend for trap and like the absolute coolest of cool kid hip-hop, and I just really like Kate Bush and Carly Rae Jepsen. When we were tracking in Hobart we listened to Rhythm of the Night by Corona over and over again. We all love that.
Are there any Australian bands or musicians you’d love to collaborate or tour with?
Banoffee. I reckon she’s the best electronic producer out, and her live show kicks arse. Also Party Dozen, who are doing the most incredible, challenging, exciting shit, and our mates Mezko, a pair of synth wizards with beautiful souls. Anything to do with them is a great time.
There are so many amazing bands and artists surfacing out of Brisbane, what is it about the Brisbane music and arts scene that makes it such a haven for creatives?
My theory is that there’s just not that much to do. Boredom is a great creative motivator. Plus there’s this enduring house show culture, which means even flat broke d***heads like me can play shows in front of people, meet other people who play shows, and start playing shows with those people. The beautiful cycle continues.