We had the good fortune of connecting with Forrest Gray and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Forrest, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I consider myself incredibly privileged to have been raised by parents who fostered artistic pursuits at an early age. My dad was an actor and writer, my mom was a talent agent; the idea that the arts were a viable career path was instilled at an early age. In the community I grew up in on Long Island, almost everyone I knew had at least one parent in a creative field. I was at a dinner the other night with a number of tech investors and venture capitalists, and I was struck by how many of them had pursued the arts in their youth- some very seriously- only to shift course in college. This is common. Artistic pursuits are seen as fanciful after the age of 18. If I could give any advice to anyone still in high school who isn’t lucky enough to grow up in a household like mine, it would be to surround yourself with creatives who’ve either made it in their field, or plan to, even if it’s not the field you’re interested in. There is an incredible amount of commonality among freelance artists, so all advice is applicable.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m not sure if the artistic qualities I possess necessarily set me apart from others. I’ve taken great care to put into practice the advice I’ve received from successful composers over the years, and I think that’s been the key to my progress as an artist. But that’s all easier said than done. It’s been a rocky road, with a lot of wrong turns, but I’ve made it to a place that I’m happy with, and I can finally see the path ahead with more clarity than ever. On a granular, day-to-day level, I’ve felt incredibly pessimistic about my odds, but looking back on my eight years since grad school, I can see the positive arch. So no, it wasn’t easy, but I’ve been lucky to have an incredibly supportive partner in my girlfriend a stable home we’ve built together that’s removed from the ups and downs of a volatile industry, and professional relationships that are healthy and mutually beneficial. It’s all about relationships, maintaining them at home and in your work life. If I didn’t have both, I’d have cratered by now. Another important piece of advice is to continually grow. Absorb as much new inspiration as possible, and be comfortable in the newness of an approach. It will most likely be something you’re awful at at first, and painful though that period is, emerging from it makes you that much better.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Whether we had a day or a week, the first must-do in LA is to get LA Phil tickets in the Orchestra View seating, seated right behind the orchestra, such that you’re facing the conductor. It doesn’t have to be Dudamel, and the program doesn’t matter. It’s the single-most unique symphony hall experience, and it’s one of my favorite aspects of Disney Hall. As far as food goes, Thai Town is always a must. Ruen Pair is maybe the best Thai I’ve had in the country, and Sapp Coffee Shop, my second favorite, is right down the street. Then there’s the Getty Museum, which is not only the best view of the city, but usually has at least one worthwhile exhibition, and an incredible garden. Lastly, the Dresden in Los Feliz, right on Vermont, is a funky steakhouse/bar with a musical duo, Marty and Elayne, who’ve been performing there for forty years. My stepdad told me he used to see them perform there back in the 90s.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m gonna get all gushy about my alma mater, Berklee College of Music. As an institution, it made me the musician I am today, While I could attribute my development there to a handful of professors, I gained so much from every aspect of my four years there, that it would be hard to pin down one professor, or one class as the reason for my growth. I arrived at Berklee, after having been waitlisted, with some raw ability, but very little formal training. I couldn’t read or write music, couldn’t analyze a simple lead sheet, and didn’t know the first thing about arranging music for an ensemble. By my fourth year there, I was tutoring in music theory and writing a piece for a 40-piece orchestra to be premiered at the annual department concert. Lest I sound too self-aggrandizing, I only mention these things to demonstrate just how much of an impact the school had on me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

Website: www.forrestgraymusic.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/forrestgraycomposer/

Youtube: @forrestgray3528

Image Credits
J Lee Glassburn, Jackson Hyland-Lipski

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