Gilbere Forte has the ability to open up your mind in a way that is quite unexpected. A product of the truth, Gilbere releases all his thoughts and honest words through his music and his lyrics have a long standing affect on his listeners. Ever since releasing Pray, fans have looked to Gilbere for clarity through his tracks and have yet to be disappointed.
Preparing for the release of his debut album, Gilbere sat down with The Source to discuss the concept behind the album, his most recent track, ‘White Lights,’ and so much more. Check out the interview after the jump!
Last time you and I spoke I was interviewing you for Vibe and Pray had just came out, so it’s been a while.
G: Yes it has.
I see you’ve been busy, so that’s good.
G: Yeah, I’ve just been working on a lot of stuff. I have the EP in place. It should be coming in April and I’m still working on the album. You know, since Pray, I’m just still trying to build on the sound I’ve created.
Tell me about the EP, about the new music. What’s the inspiration? What’s the concept?
G: This particular EP is an expansion upon what I was trying to accomplish with Pray. Pray is definitely the more dark moments of me, just in my life. And now I feel like I graduated to a much more gray area, where I am creating more of a balance for myself as a human being. The music is a reflection of that and so with ‘White Lights’ it means realizing that even though I’m going through all of these hardships and battles within myself and also as an artist wanting to be really great and the best at what I do. At the end of the day, I’m still fighting to get to the end of that tunnel. The music is very powerful. I created something special you know with a cinematic feel to it. My own nature. So I’ve been able to expand upon that and I’ve just been listening to different forms of music and different song structures and really getting more engaged with the emotion in the song, let alone the structure that everyone’s used to. So I just wanted to take another step and challenge myself with this next body of work along with my other upcoming pieces, such as the album, just continuing to challenge myself and kind of change the dynamic in which people listen to music, appreciate music and just make them feel much more drawn to me and what I create.
Is there anything different from Pray on this EP that we will see, that we didn’t see before?
G: Sonically, it’s an expansion upon that sound. I am getting more into a brighter space. What I have to say is a little different. I’m being a little more raw in my content and how I am approaching what I am talking about and the stories that are being depicted in this project. It’s just more of me. Pray was the beginning point for me to get in tune with myself and my fans and now this is a step further to really open up another door.
Who have you been collaborating with? Did you collaborate with anybody for this EP or is it just you?
G: Primarily, this project is me and Raak since day one and I have met with other musicians and producers along the way, during the process and I’m still finalizing songs for the project. So I’m really going to keep that under wraps until I release it. I do plan on working with a few people on the album, from Scoop Deville, Hit-Boy to Jameson. I’m sure you’re going to hear something else from me and Active Child and just really reaching out to my friends and new people I’ve met along this process at the end of last year and new people I met this year. I’m pretty excited to just create some new foundational stuff.
Have you been producing yourself as well? I know you’ve worked with Raak a lot but have you done anything on the production side?
G: Not outside of what me and Raak do. I haven’t had enough time to really focus on that. I do plan on focusing more on that for the album. In the beginning records that we have been cutting, I’ve been working with different composers, really just trying to get the sound right. I know as a creator myself, what I’m really trying to attach to what I have already created.
What was the inspiration behind ‘White Lights’? What was your mind frame when you put that together?
G: Honestly, I took a chance to really look at myself, looking at my positioning in music right now and what I am trying to accomplish. As a new artist, you’re always going to battle these challenges and doubts and that’s just ongoing. It’s never going to stop until you reach a certain level of success or greatness that works for you. And for me, I’ve got great goals and I have high aspirations to really succeed so with everything that I am going through right now, I really just want to get it out. There’s so much that I want to say to the world and there’s so much that I want to say period that I’m like the only way I can get it out is through my music. My Twitter is one thing but I just really want to express myself so much more strongly moving forward because I think that will remove that sense of denial or any sense of defeat needed for me to grow artistically or as a person. This particular record was a reflection of that.
Your fans and your listeners are really receptive to your music. I notice a lot of people are still very big fans of Pray. They still listen to it, so talk about how it feels to receive such a positive reception to your work?
G: I love it. For Pray it took almost two and a half years to make so just to see what I got back from that after it came out, it was just a beautiful thing. It let me know that I wasn’t the only one feeling the way I was feeling when I was making it and knowing that people were able to relate to it. “Nolita” and amongst other records like Double Cup and even Pray the song and how much it became such an anthem for people. I was getting text messages from a lot of my friends and people who I just randomly meet, they would say to me “Pray is such a powerful record that uplifts me” and then there was that kind of people who would say “Hey you have this song called Pray but you’re cursing and saying all of these different things.” I would say it’s more about the feeling and the message that I am trying to get across amongst other things that I am talking about in this record, at the end of the day it’s all about praying in order for you to get where you need to be and restore that faith in yourself so you can become a better person. So I was able to talk to get that message across to people and I think it’s going to grow every day.
I certainly agree. I’ve seen from when you first came out, to when you released Pray. You’ve grown a lot and how things have changed and how your fan base has grown to, so definitely I agree with you. How’s your record deal doing? Does the record label understand what you’re working on, are they patient?
G: For me I’ve always had an independent state of mind, even getting involved with and parenting with Epic and working with them with the next major release. I do think with business, there are moments where you may not see eye to eye when it comes to certain things but they do give me my freedom to do what I want to do and I appreciate that. I’m able to continue to build, one step at a time, every day and my core fans and just build on what I am trying to get ready and prepare for a major release. I feel like I want everyone to have something to look forward to. So when it comes to my first album, I want people to be excited to go out and buy it not like “Hey you know I heard your albums out. I want to hear what it sounds like. I want to know what it’s about.” I want them to be excited to purchase it. So what I am creating with Pray and ‘White Lights,’ I’m trying to lay down the foundation for it.
How’s LA life been treating you?
G: LA is definitely a different environment. It’s totally different from how it was back home in Philly, being in New York. It’s a different level of inspiration and also a different level of distraction too. I think a lot of people go through it when they make transitions and move to new cities. You try to understand the dynamic of what’s going on and where you’re at and keep that sense of motivation. It’s definitely been a challenge to continue to grow musically because I want to do so much more. I can be inspired to do so much and meet so many people that I may not have had the chance to meet on the east coast. So I’m focused on the sound, that I’m progressing and who I am as a person and staying true that’s just what I focus on every day.
As far as being in the industry and traveling and doing everything that you’ve done, what have you noticed has been your biggest inspiration? What has inspired you the most that has hit you and you instantly feel inspired?
G: My biggest inspiration, the reception from people. I get to meet different types of fans. There are fans of my music. There are fans of how my mind is philosophically, how I am communicating different ways on Twitter. Fans who are appreciative of my lifestyle or the way I eat and different things I share on my Instagram. People can be so influenced and moved by you in different factors of life that you’re attached to; it allows me to know that it just isn’t about the music at the end of the day. Yes, the music is my voice but I can be an overall inspiration to someone, helping them better their selves. Knowing that, seeing that and communicating with people who are approaching me with that in mind is the biggest inspiration for me to keep going.
Who have you met through your past that you were excited to meet?
G: I have to say to narrow it down respectfully, Stevie Wonder. I had a chance to meet him last year and it was a very organic opportunity. I was able to have at least 25 minutes of conversation with him. We were in a parking lot in a private building out in LA. It was very warming for me to even be in the presence of somebody who is special to music and an inspiration to so many people’s lives. The fact that a couple years ago I made a record called “Three Words” just wanting to express myself and now getting the opportunity to meet him and him sharing his thoughts and visions for a new artists who is trying to succeed and also reach out to the world in the way that I am. Just the words that he had for me were beautiful. So that’s been the biggest inspiration and moment for me so far.
In the midst of you getting your music together, have you thought of going on tour once you’re done with your EP or album?
G: Yeah, that’s the focus. Once I get this body of work, prepared, finished and wrapped up, touring is definitely the next step. I’m excited to get out in front of people and perform this new body of work. I’ve really been working on the show for this moving forward. And I’m just inspired by so much new art this year and of last year that helped me kind of prepare my thoughts of how I want to set my show up for people. It’s all about the experience at the end of the day and my music is going to get more and more powerful and film driven. And so I want to be able to capture that more and more on stage and just show that to people.
Has anybody close to you listened to the music that you’re working on so far? Have you gotten any kind of feedback from a family member or friend?
G: People who are close to me have. We had the chance to be in the studio and what I’ve got from them is a sense of they couldn’t believe how potent the sound was and how raw I am with my vocabulary. What I am talking about it such strong subject that they may not be into talking about. And the fact that I am able to talk about it and make it sound good and feel good, is what they’ve been saying. So I am really excited for people to hear it. It’s going to be really tight.
Cool! That’s wassup, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve seen that on your Instagram, you were at nuvo TV. You were cooking some vegan food, how’d that come about?
G: Someone actually reached out to me about being on the segment about the collective that NUVOtv is doing right now with Karla Enrique from LA. She said “I want to feature you. I thought it was very interesting how you can be vegan and you’re also a rapper. How does that relate, how does that correlate, how does that work for the traditionally lifestyle of someone who makes hip hop music and is of this culture?” So she really wanted to see if it was the real deal and if I was able to get in the kitchen and throw down. So I was able to do that and everyone in the room, they loved the food and I kind of brought them into my kitchen. In a sense where I showed them the healthy lifestyle does compliment anything you do in life, even the music. Just the lifestyle of eating food that’s pure, that’s going to give you energy and lift you up. It’s a reflection of what I am trying to do with my music. It goes hand in hand.
How long have you been a vegan?
G: For about four years, it’s definitely been an interesting process. There are moments where I will try to balance my diet and go back to being vegetarian, more so vegan is definitely a big part of my diet.
What inspired you to do that?
G: I think it was a sense of trying to see how much self-control I had. I had a conversation a couple years ago, with the black Dante. He was telling me “the most threatening thing a human being has, isn’t necessarily weapons or drugs. It’s what you put in your mouth.” That stuck with me and I did more research and learned about different foods and how a lot of foods are carrying these preservatives. They might not be affecting us now but they may when we get older, from cancers to all of these different things. So I started doing my own research and I was like well I’ve already had a vegetarian diet and now I’m learning about this veganism. I want to learn more. During that process I started changing my diet, I saw changes in my health and how I felt, energy wise, my spirit and my personality. So for all of my friends, I would try to suggest meals and cook for them but it was all a chance to see how much self-control I as a human being could have. If I can tell myself yes I’m not going to do this anymore and no I’m going to do this for myself for the better. If I can share anything with anybody, I feel that it is worth the try.
That’s very inspiring. Have you had any temptations to not be a vegan in the midst of being a rapper around other people or new people?
G: Not at all. To be totally honest I have such self-control when it comes to my diet, in terms of my lifestyle. It’s actually funny, I’ve been in studio sessions where I’ve had people in there eating, chicken, ribs or burgers and they’re like “You want any of this” and I’m like “Nah, I’ll go order me some hummus” and they understand what I’m doing and they respect it and I respect them for what they choose to eat. But they always give me the side eye like “I wonder what that hummus taste like.” A couple hours into the session they’re like, “Yo I feel like shit” and I’m the one with all of the energy because I didn’t eat heavy food. So there’s never temptation.
What do you want the people who are going to read this interview to know, what is coming, what to expect?
G: What I want people to take from this interview, to be totally honest, I feel that for me this is a continued awakening for me, artistically, spiritually and as a human being. I am able to continue defining my purpose through this music. So I would want people to see that in themselves. I just want to be a reflection for everybody and be a positive example for everyone in all that I do. It’s so much more to expect and I’m just really excited to get the music out. I’m at a loss for words.
We understand. We’ll do a follow up once the music’s out. We thank you. We’re big fans of you here at The Source. When I mentioned I was doing an interview with you, everybody was like “Really? He’s awesome!” We’ve all followed you and you’ve really grown and we’re looking forward to your album.
G: For me, it’s no rush. We don’t know what tomorrows going to be. It’s about focusing on today. Taking it one day at a time. Tomorrow your heart isn’t even there yet, its beating for today. That’s my MO. That’s what I stick to. I’m happy that people are able to feel good about what I put out into the world, into the universe.