The past few years have been a thrilling whirlwind for Grammy Award-winning and RIAA Platinum-certified producer and sound designer, FORTHENIGHT.
In early 2020, he got an unexpected placement on Bad Bunny’s seminal Reggaeton record, YHLQMDLG, which led to him getting to tack the “Grammy Award-winning” and “RIAA Platinum-certified” parts to his title, skyrocketing him to a new level of success. Right after that, he got another high-profile placement on Don Toliver’s “Can’t Feel My Legs,” which went RIAA Gold along with Toliver’s record, Heaven Or Hell. Now, this past April, FORTHENIGHT announced that he’s signing with Wondagurl’s label imprint, Wonderchild, a joint-venture with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Publishing.
“It’s definitely been surreal,” FORTHENIGHT told American Songwriter over the phone. “I knew I was going to get a Grammy at some point in my career, I just didn’t know when. It ended up happening for me when I was just a few years into the industry, which is very rare. It definitely changed my view on everything. You never know what’s going to happen, you have to just keep working.”
See, that drive and unrelenting work ethic is a big key to FORTHENIGHT’s success. Prior to having his work get picked up for Bad Bunny’s song “P FKN R,” he had made a name for himself not as a beat producer, but as a sound designer. Feeling that the beat world was oversaturated, he saw sound design as his ticket to being noticed.
“I wanted to find a different way to get my foot in the door, so I really got into making samples,” he explained. “With samples, the way I see it is: what people walk away humming is usually the melody. Sometimes, the bass line can be really strong, but a lot of music these days—especially on the charts and whatnot—has really catchy melodies. With that, samples have come a really far way in the industry. You can give a sample to an artist and they can make a song out of it. You don’t even need drums on it or anything like that, you can really build a song off just a melody.”
So, FORTHENIGHT got busy getting good at design samples. Taking inspiration from everything from soul records to ‘70s and ‘80s music to horror movie soundtracks, he began crafting a signature style that would end up becoming his production calling card. Now, that style is in high demand, especially with the influx of horror-inspired hip-hop in recent years.
“My mom used to bring home a lot of scary movies when I was a little kid,” FORTHENIGHT explained. “I always used to watch them—Candyman, for example, is how I found out about Philip Glass. When suspense built in a movie, I would hear the scary music and think ‘Wow, that sounds crazy.’ From there, it just got stuck in my head. I was like ‘You know, I should really listen to these soundtracks and study them.’ I wanted to find out what made them so scary. So, that side of it started in the very, very early days.”
Exploring this world, FORTHENIGHT began experimenting with all types of samples that spoke to all types of moods. Eventually, he decided to kick it up a notch and started selling his work in sample packs.
“I started releasing sample packs to the world,” he said. “I would post them to either my site or a third-party site. Basically, how it works is: you release your sample pack and any producer can buy it and make whatever they want with it. You don’t really know what is going to happen, it’s kinda a surprise. It’s a very interesting game in that regard. The Bad Bunny placement, for example, was a big surprise. I didn’t see it coming.”
It’s true—while FORTHENIGHT was networking and building connections in the beat world as a sound designer, his work ended up in the hands of producer, TheSkybeats. From there, it ended up as a beat on YouTube… which somehow reached the ears of Bad Bunny. When FORTHENIGHT got the news of his placement (through an Instagram DM, nonetheless), he didn’t even think it was real.
“I was going through a rough time, so I deleted Instagram just to step away from social media,” he began. “When I redownloaded it, I saw the message about the Bad Bunny placement and I didn’t really believe it. It wasn’t until I got the actual call from The Skybeats manager. From there, I realized it was real… and it totally changed my career. I used to make a lot of Spanish-inspired melodies, but I feel like that one was the best one I had made. It’s so simple and open, it’s not too complicated. That’s what I was hoping it would do for people. I was thinking ‘Anyone can take this, it doesn’t have to be a Spanish beat or whatever.’ So, it opened a lot of doors. It showed a lot of people, like, ‘Woah, FORTHENIGHT is the guy for making scary-type melodies and this Spanish thing… what else can he do?’ It keeps people wondering what else I’m capable of.”
And now, with Wondagurl’s label, Wonderchild, FORTHENIGHT is gearing up to keep surprising people with world-class samples and beats. “Me and Wondagurl met a few years back when I was in high school,” he said. “I was just beginning to get my foot in the door of the industry and one of her cousins, who I’m good friends with, put me in a session with her. From there, I kept in contact with her throughout the years. It’s crazy because it’s like a full-circle. We decided to work together—I sent her mad ideas and mad samples. From there, the relationship built. That’s how I got signed to Wonderchild. It was definitely a big thing—I’ve always wanted to have something like that happen. I’m always working on new music, no matter what. This just means that even more of it is to come, I just can’t say what specifically yet.”
With that anticipation building, FORTHENIGHT is having no problem keeping busy. Working on new songs with new artists all the time, he stays committed to his work ethic and has a strong message for any aspiring beat makers, sound designers or producers out there: “Follow your dreams no matter what.”
“This isn’t the ideal job for everyone and you might not make a lot of money, but just go with it,” he continued. “Don’t even think about the money, don’t think about if you’re going to ‘make it’ or not. Just keep working, no matter what. Have in your head that someday this will work out, and it will work out.”
Grammy Award-winning and RIAA Platinum-certified producer, FORTHENIGHT, is now signed to Wondagurl’s Wonderchild label. Check out a few of FORTHENIGHT’s sample packs below: