Finding himself a place in the niche genre of queer house, Forbid – also known as Brandon – is a 24-year-old DJ and producer from Leeds. Known for his appearances in some of the most iconic LGBT+ nightclubs and venues of the north, Forbid’s catalogue even includes a slot in this year’s Manchester’s virtual pride event. His most recent track, ‘The Turndown’, is an electric, high energy, floor-filler-to-be, with a heavy bassline and powerful female vocals which would comfortably find itself at any trendy club.
His upcoming release, ‘Diamond Heart’, was created entirely over lockdown in collaboration with Samuel Pack. On the surface, the track is upbeat, glittery, and unsubtle, yet Pack’s glossy vocals tell a different, more depressing story of loss and desperation.
I got the chance to speak to Forbid about the upcoming track and his inspirations and origins as a house artist.
Alisha: You appear at home in the Northern queer scene, spending a lot of time performing there. Would you say that the environment influences your music?
Forbid: Definitely. Before I was DJing in the queer scene, I didn’t feel like I had an identity music-wise, and I felt like I’ve been driven (…) to make this niche, pumping queer house music.
A: I feel like the Northern queer scene is quite a welcoming, inclusive space, I can imagine it would have boosted your confidence too.
F: Yeah, It’s very nice. I think it’s very tight-knit, everyone knows each other, so it feels like a home. It does inspire my music a lot.
A: What was it that inspired you to start creating and producing tracks in the first place?
F: My parents are massive music lovers. My mum used to listen to old house records, while my dad used to listen to old RNB records, and my older brothers DJ as well. But, I never really enjoyed music in school, I didn’t have a musical background. Then when I was 15 I realised you can make all the music yourself on a computer. So I opened up the software and initially thought ‘nope, this isn’t for me’. Then, about a month later I gave it another go, and that’s how I started producing. I’ve always loved house and garage so it felt right.
A: Did anyone specific provide inspiration?
F: This might be a surprise, but my biggest inspiration is Skrillex. If you see any videos of him live, his energy is insane, and that kind of energy is a big inspiration for me.
A: How different was the experience of producing ‘Diamond Heart’ in such isolated conditions?
F: In all honestly, not that different. My creative process can differ; it can go from sitting in a studio and creating a track, but some of my best work has literally been made lying in bed with my laptop and headphones. (…) But the actual process of making the track has been very similar. In lockdown, whenever my creativity has been sparing, I’ve just tried to get things boxed off as soon as I can.
A: So would you say that the lockdown hindered your creative process, or was it boosted in some ways?
F: In all honesty, it’s benefited me. It’s given me the time to sit down and make a large body of work. I think in my entire career, the amount of work I’ve got is of the best calibre I’ve ever had; I’ve been able to really hone my sound. Even though we can’t predict the future, it’s enabled [creatives] to really work on their craft now.
A: I agree! How was working with Samuel Pack?
F: He was very lovely to work with, he’s very much creatively on my wavelength. We worked together over four days. He sent me the first set of vocals on Whatsapp, and at first I said ‘I’m not feeling these’. So, I made a demo of an instrumental of the upcoming song, and he said ‘okay, let me write to this’. As soon as I heard the new vocals I thought ‘okay, this is it!’. Then, we spent about four days going back and forth until it was done, and I’m very excited to put that out. He’s a gem to work with
A: Is there anyone else – dead or alive – you would love to work with?
F: I’d love to make a song with Nicki [Minaj], she’s a boss bitch. But I’d also love to make a song… if she was still here, [with] Aretha Franklin. That kind of voice on a house track, a black female vocals lead, and she’s the original! She’s the blueprint!
A: What’s your favourite thing about the new track?
F: This is the first time I’ve been able to put my emotions across into a record, even in the instrumental. I think if you listen to it, it’s quite sombre. It’s quite mellow, but Sam’s vocals really take it off. It’s the kind of track you can cry in the club to.
A: There’s definitely layers to the track, on the surface it’s quite high energy, and then on that second listen you really get the sombre side to it. But lastly, what do your fans have to look forward to, is this a new era for you?
F: I feel like I have more of an identity so I really know who I am, and I’m a lot more focused, so this is a more refined era of Forbid!
Enjoy Forbid’s new era with ‘Diamond Heart’, out now on all streaming platforms.