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About Jason Forrest
Jason Forrest is best known for making highly energetic electronic music from cut-up samples of disco, classic rock, new wave, and several other genres, filtered through a production aesthetic equally inspired by John Oswald and the Bomb Squad. While his tracks heavily employ distorted breakbeats and glitch effects common to IDM and other experimental electronic styles, there's far more of a sense of unbridled joy to his work than that of most other producers in his field. Between his record labels, his radio show, and his own performances and recordings, Forrest has done more to promote the loosely defined breakcore scene than nearly any other American. First appearing during the early 2000s under the pseudonym Donna Summer, he switched to his birth name in 2004, when he released his most acclaimed recording, The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post Disco Crash. Relocating to Berlin for several years, his music became more club-focused, reflected by 2008's rave-inspired Panther Tracks. His musical output slowed during the 2010s as he pursued other ventures, but he released a more introspective, experimental full-length titled The Everything in 2011, then returned to his earlier disco-infused sound with 2018's Fear City.
Originally from South Carolina, Forrest was a photographer and writer before he began making computer-based music. Involved with the experimental music scene, he decided to go by the moniker Donna Summer for the purpose of "subjecting people to a fake issue of diversity." He began releasing CD-R albums such as 2001's Belligerent Super-Vision on his own Cock Rock Disco imprint, quickly establishing his signature sound consisting of pilfered samples from artists ranging from Public Enemy to Pat Benatar, all doused in noise and frantic breakbeats. In 2002, he released To All Methods Which Calculate Power on the Japanese label Omeko, as well as a 7" single, "Popxplosion," on Broklyn Beats. He also began hosting a radio program on Jersey City free-form station WFMU titled Advanced D&D with Donna Summer. The weekly program ran until 2005, and featured live performances, DJ sets, and interviews with artists like Duran Duran Duran, DJ /rupture, and a then-unknown Girl Talk; most of the music Forrest played on the show was unreleased material by independent artists. In 2003, Donna Summer released a split LP with Japanese breakcore artist OVe-NaXx, an album called Death After Life which was constructed entirely from Iron Maiden samples, and a full-length titled This Needs to Be Your Style on Irritant Records.
In 2004, Forrest began releasing music on Mouse on Mars' Sonig label. The Irregular EP was credited to Donna Summer, but The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post Disco Crash was issued under the producer's real name. The album was very well received by the press, particularly Pitchfork, who named it a Best New Music release. An experimental EP titled Lady Fantasy appeared in 2005, followed by the aptly named full-length Shamelessly Exciting. During the same year, Forrest's Cock Rock Disco label began releasing material by other artists, including Doormouse and Terminal 11. By this point, he had relocated to Berlin, where he co-founded a breakcore festival called Wasted; a compilation of the same name was released during the year.
Following a few scattered split releases, DJ mixes, and remixes for artists such as Foetus and End, Forrest's next album was 2008's Panther Tracks, this time credited to DJ Donna Summer. With influences ranging from the early-'90s rave scene to late-2000s styles such as jumpstyle and Baltimore club, the album was Forrest's most aggressively danceable work. Around this time, Forrest and New York-based DJ Jubilee co-founded Nightshifters, a club-friendly label that released tracks and remixes by AC Slater, Jokers of the Scene, Dre Skull, and others. DJ Donna Summer's Raw appeared on Nightshifters in 2010, containing a remix by Night Slugs co-founder Bok Bok.
Forrest resumed making more experimental music under his given name with Utopia, an EP released as part of Deathbomb Arc's digital singles club in late 2010. This was followed by 2011 full-length The Everything (on the Staatsakt label), which was considerably less giddy than his previous albums, but still intricately constructed. After the album's release, he largely put music on hold in order to focus on raising his son, as well as ventures such as the curated television site Network Awesome. He continued producing music, however, and in 2018, after he had returned to New York City, he released Fear City, a full-length more in line with his exuberant mid-2000s sound. ~ Paul Simpson
- Fort Mill, SC
- Apr 5, 1972
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