Americana Highways presents this video premiere of Forest Ray’s song “Black Pine,” the title track from his forthcoming album. Black Pine was mixed by Erik Takuichi Wallace at Jackpot Studios in Portland, Oregon and mastered by Paul Gold at Salt Mastering in Brooklyn.
We conducted an interview with Forest Ray, here. The video is beneath the interview.
Americana Highways: A lot of people just think of Seattle as the “grunge” city, but its history with music runs so much deeper than that. What role do you think roots music and Americana plays in the Pacific Northwest?
Forest Ray: Great question, the outskirts of the Seattle area, especially Kitsap county have a long history of bluegrass and folk music. But one thing about Seattle, is it is through and through a rock n roll city, from The Sonics who ruled the garage-era, Jimi Hendrix (who mostly saw fame outside of Seattle) and Nirvana, they all are a part of the cities history. But you also have lesser known country artists like Merrilee Rush and Bonnie Guitar who also were instrumental in cities cultural history, and folk and protest-folk from its early days of Woody Guthrie have always had strong followings in the Northwest. In a different way and with different flavors than Appalachia and the Midwest – rock n’ roll, folk and Americana also meet and make their blend in a uniquely northwest way.
AH: What was the inspiration for naming the album “Black Pine”? Which came first, the song or the album title?
FR: The song actually came first and then we decided to use it as the name for the album. The song was written first and for me it was a track that was both personal and infectious and it just made it sense to make the name of the full album.
AH: The video is a beautiful mixed media experience juxtaposing animation and 8mm film. Who can we credit this video to and what was the creative process like?
FR: Thank you! The video was produced by a longtime collaborator of mine, Conor O’Keefe who works for Walking Distance Media, we sort of had the idea and did a small road trip to the Gorge in George, WA. It’s a very famous natural amphitheater in Washington, for those who aren’t familiar. It’s a really one of a kind and we filmed the trip out there.
The idea was a trip to pay tribute to a lost friend/family member and documenting the “journey” there. Conor’s friend, Perri Greeley, actually did the artwork and did a really phenomenal job.
AH: My favorite moment on this track is the fuzz solo at the end, it’s a shot of adrenaline over an otherwise calm backdrop. It sometimes feels like the use of the guitar solo in this way is a little dead. What was recording this solo like, was it a “moment” for the band?
FR: That’s great to hear – I personally love the solo as well and I’ve always loved playing expressively with feedback and the track itself served as a great opportunity to do so. I think one of my favorite things about folksy rock n’ roll is when there is a big nasty solo at the end. Sometimes sloppy and raw but always expressive, I think of songs like down by the river by Neil Young that really capture that vibe that I love. It was certainly a moment and with all the feedback and noise it’s really kind of unique and doing unpredictable things like the feedback make it harder to replicate exactly in some ways (because knowing exactly the feedback will respond is rarely a guarantee) but that’s really what also makes it more special, unique and really a snapshot of that moment.
AH: Lastly, tell us about the upcoming album and what you’re most optimistic for going into 2021?
FR: Optimism is certainly a challenge for 2021 but I’m optimistic about the return of live performances, the ability to get out there and play these songs in person again and perform these songs, and to be able to put the record in someone’s hand seems like such a rewarding experience that was maybe previously taken for granted.
I am also very optimistic about future recordings as quarantine has really turned into a time for me to work on my home studio and invest in making a special place to create and now we’re even more equipped to do our entire analog mixing and recording process from the comfort of my home.
Vistas driving on a lonely mountain road, opening into a road trip complete with eating – while -driving, darkness, lakes, gigs, and random small town scenes, the video provides a visual log of the gig life and life itself. “Black Pine” is a compelling, balanced attitude toward mortality. Find more of Forest Ray’s music here: https://forestray.bandcamp.com