We had the good fortune of connecting with Johnny Forte and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johnny, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I think the consistency of building relationships with my creative colleagues plays a vital part in my success. Networking is such an important aspect of being creative, along with the use of social media. It’s good to expand your horizons and meet different people with different backgrounds, styles and art mediums. My friend D-Fi Logic is great at networking, which inspires me to get out there and meet new people as well. My friend Bruce is a videography who shoots everything from engagement videos, weddings, and Hip-Hop music videos. He started off shooting at JDM car meets, and has footage of his own car. I started off helping him and he said I have a natural eye. When friends believe in you, it pushes you farther. I’m proud of all my friends doing their thing. It’s not easy out there being an artist, especially right now being a DJ. I feel my brand is Alternative and a little bit unorthodox to what people are usually used to. I’m grateful the venues I DJ at – Avant Garden, The Secret Group, Darwin’s Theory, Social Beer Garden, Axelrad, Boondocks – allow me the flexibility to push boundaries and experiment to see how people react. It’s all a social experiment. I love seeing people enjoy the music, especially at a time like this with everything that’s going on. It’s nice to be able to just let loose and forget the world for a night. I feel honored to be a part of that.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I would describe my art as vibrant, intriguing, excessive, and, I would like to believe it’s different. Some people might describe as urban, Hip-Hop mixed in with Alternative. That describes my photography as well as the music I play. They tend to go hand-in-hand. I believe my DJing sets me apart from others due to my song selection. I play a little bit of everything from Funk, Pop, Alternative, Trap, to House music. I can go wherever I want to. I feel like I’m really good at genre-blending. I love artists like Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Phum Viphurit, Tobi Lou, to more mainstream artists like Gym Class Heroes, Bruno Mars and Anderson-Paak. I’m excited to be releasing my first album, “Destinations,” on all streaming services, hopefully by the Fall. Some of the songs are “Trappin N Japan,” “Sanctuary,” which is about fighting demons inspired by the show “Angel,” and “SWIC,” which stands for Somewhere in California. Honestly, I got to where I am by people giving me a chance, and consistency. I DJed every Wednesday night for three years straight at Avant Garden. That opportunity helped me become a better, more natural and diverse DJ, especially since I started doing their weddings. The experience was definitely nerve-wrecking and a lot of pressure. I still feel the pressure to this day. You never want to mess up a wedding. It was most definitely not easy getting to where I am today. Everyone already had their favorite DJs so it was hard making a name for myself and getting noticed. I also didn’t have a positive upbringing. I had to work to be independent early on. So I’m so grateful for the friends who helped me along the way. To overcome my challenges, I had to really hustle and dabble in various art forms at once. I DJed, did photography and would my videographer friend as well. I even did UberEats for a few years. I didn’t have a car at the time and had to bike everywhere! I would take the bus home at 5 am after gigs. In the beginning, a lot of people didn’t believe in me or support me. That definitely discouraged me. I didn’t have a family that was really around. My uncle and I had to take care of my grandma growing up. I used music to escape. Most of my positive memories are definitely music-related. I didn’t have many friends so I would listen to music all day. Also a part of what inspired my music, goes back to the early 2000’s. Hip-Hop was so diverse! Jay-Z did an album with Linkin Park, and Fall Out Boy was a part of the culture working with Hip-Hop artists, it was really dope. It was a big drive for me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them around Montrose before it finishes getting gentrified. My place is probably next. I would take them to The Burger Joint and get the Mahi Mahi and to Avant Garden of course, where my passion for DJing all started. To spark their curiosity, I would take them to the Natural Museum of Science and the Museum of Fine Arts. Show them a little culture and knowledge. As a thrill-seeker, explorer and photographer, I would also suggest going to this one, specific abandoned building. I think it’s called “Heaven on Earth.” There’s graffiti everywhere, an abandoned pool, but it can also be very dangerous. So enter at your own risk. 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?
My OG DJ Candlestick was the one who gifted his old DDJ controller. That simple act of kindness helped me to become a better DJ and get better DJ gigs. I still have it to this day. I learned so much along the way. I appreciate all the small acts of kindness from my friends and family along the way to help me get here. My cousin, Dee Davis, from Third Ward let me stay with him at the beginning of my homelessness a couple of years ago. And then my friend Earnest Mitchell, who was my high school buddie, was there for me as well. Also a shoutout to my photographer friend, Maria Alducin, who let me use her studio. My friend Diana Nguyen, who is a great human being, believed in me when I was homeless and out of a job. When I just started DJing and she came out to support me at my show.
Facebook: Johnny Forte
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