Toronto-based Duane Forrest is a man of many talents, which all result in creating beautiful things. As a singer-songwriter, his unique sound in music infuses jazz, reggae, bossa nova, and soul (thanks to smooth vocals). They also captivate the essence of his experiences from traveling the world, falling in love, and finding wonder in the highs and lows of each human experience. Speaking about his wanderlust, Duane has toured around Canada, Europe, and Central America.
His passion for arts education especially as a multimedia artist led to the foundation of the Genesis Community of the Arts, a registered Canadian charity that offers music and arts education to marginalized children and youth in Toronto and Central America.
With success after success back in 2019, Duane is bound to return for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this 2022 with a revamped version of his live music show, Climb. Through that hype, we chatted with him one-on-one to delve deeper into this show.
I feel like the name you’ve chosen for Edinburgh Fringe Festival is symbolic of the emotions you explore and your travels. What was the main inspiration behind the name Climb?
Inspiration came in the form of a woman I met in Mexico. You hear about her at the beginning of the show. She could see that I was interested in her,
She was quick to pick up how interested I was in her, but I didn’t have the courage to speak with her. Because of that, she came up to me and said:
“Diego, Yo soy una manzana, que esta arriba en un árbol. En este árbol hay muchas manzanas, y unos en el suelo, facil para recoger, pero si tu quieres a mi, tienes que subir”
A rough translation of her words goes along the lines of “I’m an apple high up in a tree, if you want to be with me, you’ll have to climb”.
This statement stayed with me throughout my travels and life, and even influenced my music. It’s really learning about my worth or my partner’s worth, where we’re constantly growing and changing.
Today, our company is now called Apple in the Tree Co.
What was the process like of developing the show with Ins Choi? Was there anything you both did that ignited creativity?
Yes, working with Ins was an amazing and humbling experience. Not to mention how cool his creative process is. One thing we did that stood out to me was ask me to print the lyrics of all of my songs. From there, we separated each song and then put them on a large board.
We started moving and arranging the orders, even cutting some song verses and switching up those orders. Towards the end, we found the map of the story of CLIMB within those songs.
I’m very inspired by your decision to donate the proceeds of the ticket sales to Genesis Arts School. What do you think music brings to young children?
Possibility. I truly believe creativity unlocks gates that lead to hopeful dreams. So the more you cherish this aspect of children or youth, the more, fresh ideas they’ll come up with. I also think that you generally become a better person in many ways once you unleash the artistic side in you!
Reggae is a beautiful genre of music. It is militant and spiritual, becoming a big contribution to developing new counterculture movements. Can you share a personal story behind your second show ‘Reggae – how music from a small island changed the world?
My family is from Jamaica, and we grew up with reggae. That influence is portrayed in all of my writing, timing, and groove.
Though as I got older, and gradually the origins of reggae as something spiritual and political, my way of writing shaped into a mature mindset. Like Bob Marley, I’ve had my fair share of love songs. But now, I am tackling more political themes especially when I look up to him. I want to touch and change the world in some way, like he has, for the better. And through reggae, that is possible.
You describe your music to bring love, clarity, and joy into this broken world. What is the one message you hope resonates with your audience?
I want the audience to take the lyrics of “Le Sol”, one of the songs from my latest album, back home and as they grow older. They go along the lines of:
“It’ll be alright, it’ll be okay, life’s dark like the night, but we’ll find our way”
Additionally, Duane is running another music show in Edinburgh at the PBH Free Fringe at the Merlin stage. This show is called Regge – How music from a small Island changed the world. The show runs at 15.45 from the 6th – 28th August.
To buy tickets For Climb – https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/climb
EIC: Derek Warburton | Managing Editor: Cyan Leigh Dacasin | Written by Holly Lewis | Edited by Marielle Balmores
For more on Duane Forrest: www.duanesguitar.com | IG: duaneintheforest | Spotify: Duane Forrest