The backstory behind Forest Blakk’s emotional new single “I Wish I Knew” could be called a coincidence, or perhaps a premonition or possibly just yet another eerie example of the foreshadowing that often comes when someone sits down to write a song.
But Blakk? Well, he just calls downright bizarre.
“I wrote the song and flew home to a breakup that I didn’t know was about to happen,” the Canadian artist tells American Songwriter, who partners with him today (May 1) for the premiere of the visualizer video for “I Wish I Knew.” “I was living in Europe at the time with my girlfriend and I ended up landing at home to a cold, really sterile apartment after it had been raining for a whole week. It was the most heart wrenching experience.”
Indeed, the making of his entire sophomore EP Sideways, which was written over the course of a year and is now set to be released June 12, was one that Blakk says was reflective to say the least.
“The EP has been hard to listen to at times because it predicted everything that was going to happen in my life in the year after it was written,” says Blakk, whose soulful songwriting has made him one of music’s most intriguing acts. “Quite literally, everything went sideways.”
Currently quarantining with his roommate in the hills of Hollywood, the continuing spread of the coronavirus has undoubtedly affected the life and livelihood of Blakk, who is still hoping that he will be able to get out on the road this summer, booked as part of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Miracle Pill Summer Tour” set to begin on July 23.
“I’m totally craving the chance to get back on stage,” explains the nimble songwriter, whose uplifting anthem “Put Your Hands Up” was featured on the ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy last October. “But as much as we are craving the chance to get back out there, we have a responsibility to keep our feet planted for a little while.”
What coronavirus has not done for him is change the feel of “I Wish I Knew.”
“As a songwriter, when you write something like this, it comes from a specific place and those ideas become forged and solidified, so yeah, the song still have the same feeling for me,” says Blakk. “But once it goes into the world, it can definitely be seen under a different lens. Writing your song and putting your heart on the line and then seeing how people interpret it is the incredible responsibility every songwriter has.”
Written alongside Will IDAP (Train, Florida Georgia Line) & Nick Long (King Princess), the roots of “I Wish I Knew” were planted via a discussion in the writing room, a conversation that touched on the famed teachings of Gary Chapman’s legendary “Five Languages of Love” book.
“We were wrapped up in this philosophical conversation about how to love a partner and how we love and what that looks like and where we have gone wrong,” recalls Blakk. “We then started thinking about how amazing it would be to have the hindsight when a relationship is done to go back and fix and change the things that weren’t working. Everyone has that moment when they look back on a relationship and realize that the things that were missing in the relationship were right there in front of them. It was so obvious. I missed the whole point. I got it all wrong.”
Yet, having lived a cruel childhood filled with it’s share of abuse and neglect, Blakk knows what it feels like to not only forgive another, but forgive yourself.
“As a man, I wished I listened more and gave you more and loved you more and I was present more and gave you more,” he says quietly.
He pauses for a moment.
“This song and this entire EP didn’t come from a dark place, but a reflective place,” he concludes. “Sideways is a love story, but that love story includes parts of despair and heartache and the feeling that comes when you have a loose grip on a wild heart just trying to be set free. Sideways is me. “Its my story. Its real and it’s about falling back in love with someone after heartbreak and it’s about being a fool in love and its about having a lot of questions about it all.”
Sounds like Forest Blakk is growing up.
“I don’t know, he says. “Sometimes I sit here and I wonder if the growth ever stops. You get a moment to catch your breath and then something else happens. But I do know there is growth when you find the reasons behind everything that happened. That’s when the real growth begins.”