YEM Interview: Liam Forde explains what it was like working on his first album “Great to Be Here”

Liam Forde is a singer/songwriter. His debut titled “Great to Be Here” was released on March 25th. The album is full of original pop/jazz songs. YEM was able to speak with Liam about what inspired him to make his music, how he decided on his title Great to Be Here, and what he has learned about himself during his musical journey.

Young Entertainment Mag: What was it like working on your first album?

Liam Forde: Thrilling, terrifying, and gratifying. I’ve been dreaming about releasing my original music for about ten years and it is a dream come true to have it finally released into the world.

YEM: How did it feel working with Geoff Countryman, who also made albums with Patti LaBelle, Wu-Tang Clan, and Dr. Luke?

Liam: Geoff is a boss. His taste and expertise were invaluable during the process. He engineered the album (tech stuff I know very little about), oversaw the horn arrangements (he’s at the horn department at SNL;Geoff is also a multi-instrumentalist), and mixed the album. Geoff shaped the sound of Great to Be Here and made it sound like a modern album with a throwback vibe instead of a throwback album with a modern vibe.

YEM: Who or what inspired you to make music reminiscent of the 1960s? 

Liam: I didn’t set out to make an album that had a 60s vibe. It’s just where my musical sensibilities lie. Jazzy harmonies, wackiness, and swingy rhythms were all more in vogue back then, and those qualities are very much a part of my musical identity.

YEM: What made you want to pursue a musical career?

Liam: I always knew I would be in the arts. In school I sang in choir, played in jazz band, acted in drama club, and I’m still doing the same things! I was lucky to find what I loved to do at a very early age.

YEM: How long have you been making music professionally?

Liam: In addition to being a recording artist and actor, I’m also  a vocal coach in the theater and pop music world. I’ve been doing that professionally since I graduated from the Boston Conservatory. That was about a decade ago. Yikes! Time flies.

YEM: Your album is called Great to Be Here, what made you decide on that title?

Liam: I played with a million different titles and this one was the clear winner. It captures my essence. It’s also something that I actually say a lot, especially when I’m in a room with other talented creative people.

Photo Credit: Yodai Yasunaga

YEM: How do you feel about performing at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall?

Liam: I love going to see concerts at Rockwood. I’m stoked to do my own concert there! It’s such a vibe. It’s real. Honest. I knew it was the perfect place to launch the album. So many singer/songwriters got their starts there. It’s intimate, friendly, and very NYC.

YEM: You have a charming album cover, what was its inspiration?

Liam: Thanks! My friend Sam and I planned it for months. Sam is an instagram sensation with her vintage cakes and food styling (follow her at @thegeminibake). She’s a genius and did the art direction for the album. Sam and I are friends from college. When we were students we went to see a screening of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the 1964 movie musical film that partly inspired La La Land. We both had an artistic epiphone that night. The style of that film is so unique: elegant, whimsical, playful, campy…we were hooked! We wanted an album cover that evoked a similar feeling. Oscar Ouk shot the album pictures. Oscar works with Paper Magazine a lot and had the modern edginess to bring it all together.

YEM: The Wall Street Journal called you “the boy wonder never fails to find precisely the right note.” Do you think that’s an accurate description?

Liam: Well it’s certainly flattering! Believe me, I’ve found plenty of incorrect notes! That’s part of the artistic process.  

YEM: What are your thoughts on being compared to Noël Coward, Stevie Wonder, and Michel Legrand?

Liam: Stevie Wonder’s music contains so much joy. It’s timeless and sophisticated and oh so catchy. I went through a phase where I played “Overjoyed” nonstop. I love Stevie. Who doesn’t? Noel Coward invented himself as a beacon of elegance and wit, not to mention is a queer icon for those who are into the music from the era of café society (I am, as you could probably guess). I’m inspired by him. Michel Legrand wrote the score to so many films, including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, as well as lots of pop hits in the 60s. His melodies are so sweeping and grand and have an unmistakably French achiness that I find deeply moving. 

YEM: What have you learned about yourself during your musical journey?

Liam: I’ve learned to trust my instincts and my talent more. When I was writing, I got trapped in patterns of negative self talk. “This lyric is cheesy”, “That melody is lame”, etc.  When I was down on myself, I couldn’t write anything. As soon as I was able to show myself more compassion, the creativity flowed. That was so comforting. It’s working with the idea that you already contain “it,” and it will reveal itself when the time is right, and probably in an unexpected and surprising way.  

YEM: Any advice for other young aspiring musicians?

Liam: Almost all artists will give this advice, and it’s worth repeating because it’s the most important thing: Do what is cool to YOU, not what you think people want from you. Not everyone is going to dig what you do, and that’s ok! If it moves you, do it as fully and passionately as you can. People will catch on.

Listen to Liam’s album here!

Watch his video for “When My World’s in Tune” here