New Zealand based rapper, DeadForest, has finally released his highly anticipated debut album, Plastic and it is unreal.
DeadForest is a kind, humble artist who values his family and human connections deeply. His hard work and undeniable talents have helped him produce what is honestly such an awe-inspiring work of art.
Plastic, produced by Dera Meelan, features a couple of DeadForest’s gifted mates as features and discusses the weird nuances of navigating through a world while everyone is staring at their screens and leading double lives on the internet.
HAPPY: Let’s chat about your new album, ‘Plastic’, it’s so good.
DEADFOREST: Thank you so much.
HAPPY: It’s so great. You’re a fantastic lyricist and rapper. I found myself, when I was listening to it, I was unable to really, well I didn’t want to focus on anything else, because the lyrics really draw me in, and given the nature of the lyrics, I wanted to know if that was something that you were hoping for, that kind of reaction?
DEADFOREST: Definitely, a hundred per cent. It was something that with our other songs we haven’t really tried to go that route, especially with lyricism. So, I’m really glad that it does have that effect.
HAPPY: It is definitely effective. I also want to know, this is your debut album, obviously, you’ve got other work out, but I want to know a little bit about what got you started because you sound like you’ve been doing it forever.
DEADFOREST: Well, it feels like it’s been forever. I think it all started back when I was twelve. I’m not sure what year it was, but I really got into electronic music and the production of electronic music. House, dubstep, was also really super popular when I was that age. And I think that’s what sparked it for me.
HAPPY: Cool. And what about writing lyrics, you said you focus more on that for this album, but when did you start writing?
DEADFOREST: It wasn’t until, I’d say I was about seventeen, so I didn’t really start writing until later on down the track. It was something that I knew I wanted to do; I just didn’t have much experience.
HAPPY: Okay, it doesn’t sound like it, it sounds like you’ve grown to it, it’s great.
DEADFOREST: I don’t know, when I was younger, I always knew I’d be pretty good at stringing the words together, I think it was just a matter of doing it, like really jumping off the blocks there.
HAPPY: Cool. And I know the album was produced by Dera Meelan, and you guys have put out a single together earlier this year, ‘No Phones’. Other than the obvious, that the production’s fantastic, what keeps drawing you two to work together?
DEADFOREST: I think it’s the process is just so easy with Dead. We really play the role of the student super well. And in a creative setting, I think that makes for some interesting sounds.
HAPPY: Definitely. So, did you build these beats from scratch or did he have a song there for you to choose from?
DEADFOREST: From the album, I’d say maybe seventy per cent of the songs on there were original, so from scratch, we just sat down and sort of smashed it out. I think there were maybe two songs on there that were old and that we had re-visited and sort of smashed up a bit.
HAPPY: Cool, which songs are they?
DEADFOREST: ‘Search and Destroy’ was one and ‘Paparazzi’ was the other one that we had for a couple of months before we even started the album.
HAPPY: Awesome. A lot of your lyrical content on the album and even the single release earlier this year, you’re speaking a lot about people’s façade on social media, technology and all that. I know in the last couple of years we’ve all spent a lot more time on our phones, when did you write these tracks, was that a factor in that?
DEADFOREST: I think definitely, because we were in lockdown in that time. So, it definitely had a lot to do with that.
HAPPY: Okay. So, you were also spending a lot of time on your phone and just noticing everyone using their phone?
DEADFOREST: A lot of time and dollars. A lot of time stuck in a room.
DEADFOREST: It was winter around the time of ‘No Phones’ release as well, so you can imagine, it was raining, we were stuck indoors, no shows or nothing.
HAPPY: Oh no, that’s enough to drive you crazy. And of course, you speak about seeing people taking their privileges for granted, like their relationships and families for granted. Without wanting to pry too much, was there a single event that you witnessed, anyone, people close to you doing that, or was it just a more, a broad thing that sparked the album?
DEADFOREST: Yeah, I think it was definitely a bit more broad, over time watching people take their relationships for granted. Maybe over the last three or four years, just observation that I’d made in my journey so far.
HAPPY: That’s very insightful. What’s your favourite track on the album?
DEADFOREST: I have to say the last song, so ‘Plastic’, at the end there.
HAPPY: Yeah, that’s mine too, for sure.
DEADFOREST: Yeah, feel-good anthem to end the album on.
HAPPY: Yeah, but it’s also emotional and evocative and the productions fantastic as well, it’s really great.
DEADFOREST: Thank you.
HAPPY: I know that you worked with a few different artists as features on the album. Were you already working together, do you have a kind of group that you hang out and jam with or anything, or where did you find them?
DEADFOREST: On the song ‘Paparazzi’, it featured Church from ‘Church and AP’. We work closely together, we’re in the same collective, Y Key K. And the song ‘Marmalade’, track number eight, features my good friend Adam. Me and him have been friends for years now, so that’s someone that I knew I wanted on the album before I even knew the song that I’d get him on, I already knew I want this guy on the album. It’s cool to have them both there, because they both mean a lot to me, you know.
HAPPY: I was wondering, because it’s great to see new emerging artists getting a kind of spotlight shone on them, so I think you’ve done a really cool thing with doing that for your album. Very cool. So, like I said, the last track ‘Plastic’, it’s super emotional and there’s a really great lyric that stuck out to me, which is, you’re talking a lot about family and everything and you say “if I told you about them, you’d probably cry”. I’m not going to ask too much; I just want to know a little more about the message you’re giving to your listeners about cherishing their loved ones.
DEADFOREST: I think that line especially, the last few years there’s been a lot of stuff that’s happened. It’s been super eventful, a lot of ups and downs. I think that’s what made me be more grateful at the end of it all and to come out on this side and to still be a hundred per cent. It’s very much empowering for me, after everything I’ve been through as well.
HAPPY: Of course. On top of everything that you’ve had going on, have you been separated with lockdowns or anything as well?
DEADFOREST: Yeah, definitely, yeah.
HAPPY: That sucks. Well, it’s very exciting to be getting back open then and being able to appreciate people in person. Also, just on that track ‘Plastic’, I have to know, the sample that was used, I thought it was a Teddy Pendergrass song, is it? I don’t know, where is it from?
DEADFOREST: I’m not sure. You’d have to ask Pender about that one.
HAPPY: Okay, it’s really cool. Do you have any plans to get on the road and get on tour?
DEADFOREST: Definitely. Best case scenario, we’d tour off the back of this album. But that just depends on what the country’s saying.
HAPPY: Yeah of course. Well, I know that as soon as the borders open, I’m sure that many Australian listeners would love to have you here as well. Amazing. Is there anything else that you wanted to say about the album?
DEADFOREST: No, I think we covered it all really. Is there anything else you wanted to know?
HAPPY: Not really, I think, like I said, I just can’t sing your praises enough. I’m really captivated by it and I felt very lucky to be able to interview you about it. It’s frickin good.
DEADFOREST: Thank you so much. It’s so buzzy for me to even be having these conversations and to even get to this point, so thank you for having me.
Plastic is available now.
Interviewed by Chloe Maddren.