Forrest York has always had his hands deep into music. A self-taught producer, he once ran recording studio Aural Canvas, but he quit to have more time for recording his own projects. York searched for more consistent work and found it at Chambers Guitars, located at 414 Memorial Blvd., where he has practically lived for the past 10 years.
Now he has a new project—one that’s only been in the works since the beginning of April. York recorded a solo album titled Rainy Season (set for a summer release) this past winter, but decided to get a little experimental with one of the songs. York posted one instrumental track online and is encouraging musicians of all ages and skill levels to contribute to his guitar parts. Each contributor can send York an mp3 of his/her own recorded material, and he plans to mix each addition into the track and release it on Rainy Season.
Murfreesboro Pulse got a chance to speak with York about his project, which is simply titled “Experiment in Modern Recording” for now, and how the recording industry is changing. He’s got high hopes for the song and what musicians around the world might add to it.
How exactly does your new project work?
People can listen to it and play along with it and then send it to me. What I’m hoping for is to get so many people and their own take on it that it will evolve into its own piece that I didn’t have much control over. If you have an orchestra with 100 people playing together, they’re going to feed off each other, but in this case, if 100 people did this, they would not be playing off and feeding off each other. That’s kind of the unique thing. Nobody can hear what the others do.
Was the song intended for your solo record?
This was actually recorded back in winter. This was a remaining piece I didn’t really address. I thought this is so wide open—I really want some other instruments, some other input on this one. It’s a little more folk—almost Scottish folk—and I just thought, ‘I’m going to put it out there and put it on Facebook, put it on the internet and see who wants to do it.’ And in the first day alone I got bombarded with people who were excited to be a part of this.
What do you plan to do with the project once finished?
I want to do a video. Someone has offered and I’ll put that on YouTube and the music will go on my CD. Who knows if someone will want to take it further and use it in some way? I would be honored, so we’ll just see where it goes. People can mail me a CD or e-mail me an mp3, however they want to do it. I want to do this through May and then I will begin editing everything together. I enjoy that type of work and I can’t wait to hear what people send me.
What sort of responses have you received so far?
I haven’t heard any music yet, but have gotten a lot of responses from friends. I’m hoping for some from people I don’t know. I want a beginner to send me something. We have students at Chambers and I’d love for them to try it. I want all levels, all styles. I want a little bit of everything.
This is an “experiment in modern recording.” How do you think the recording industry is evolving today?
These are good times. Recording used to be terribly expensive. Now it is very accessible, very affordable. When I was younger, to be able to record anything would be a pretty significant financial investment. Now there’s recording programs that are free. Anyone with a PC or Mac can record. A 12-year-old kid should be able to record his guitar and add some singing, add some keyboards to it, get his buddy to come over and play bass. Any kid should be able to record today. So that alone is very exciting. It’s not just for people who have a lot of money anymore. I don’t see record companies have as much to do with recording as they used to. They used to put up a lot of money and say, ‘We’re funding this, so we want you do music like this, this is what’s going to sell, this is what we want you to wear.’ We don’t really have to do that anymore. I don’t know if there’ll be a lot of money in that, short of a huge national tour, but as far as recording, it’s more wide open to anyone who wants to do it.
Do you think there’s hope for engineers trying to enter the industry?
I hate to say that it’s going to be slim pickin’s. My own studio saw a decline in business when people started being able to record themselves. They weren’t calling me as much. I’d have people call me up and say, ‘We miss coming in and seeing you, but we’re recording ourselves now.’ It might not sound as good as in the studio, but at least they’re having fun doing it themselves. You have to know what you’re doing to make do with less but I don’t see a whole lot of job openings in recording studios. I think engineers know that. There’s not a lot of RIM majors who think they’ll just be handed a great studio job as soon as they get out of college. Everybody has come to the realization that they have to be creative and scrounge to find a paycheck.
What do you want to ultimately achieve with this experiment?
It’s to do something that’s never been done, to make music no one ever heard before. And that’s kind of how I approach my own music. I think if someone listened to my CD, they’d say, ‘That’s definitely different. That’s definitely something I haven’t heard before. I want to do something different. That’s what I strive for in life—to be unique, to make music no one else has heard, to do something no one else has thought of. That’s the ultimate goal to me.