Host Spotlight: Wild Forts

Host Spotlight: an opportunity to shine a light on our wonderful radio hosts and wider community, be it a new music release, a brand new music residency or simply to champion them as an individual. Hailing from the other end of the M62, we chat with artist, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Wild Forts! Resident of ‘Forts & Friends’ on MDR, Wild Forts has invited an impressive roster onto his shows including Pollination, Tom2Trax, Kmya and more. We find out more about where it all began…

Hi Wild Forts! Can you tell us a bit about how you first got into music?

Hey! I’ve always loved making music even from a young age. Going right back to my earliest memory of making music was being about 10 years old using software called E-Jay, which was drag and drop sample software packed with pre-made beats and super heavy robot voices saying stuff like ‘drop the robo-funk’, ‘play that beat D-D-D-D JAAAY’. Honestly, I used to absolutely buzz off it. Looking back I kinda feel sorry for my poor nan who I used to relentlessly show these songs to – she put on a brave face, bless her!

As I got older I started playing acoustic guitar (yeah, I was that kid who whacked out the guitar at parties), but once I started studying music composition at Salford University, I found the acoustic to be such a one-dimensional instrument compared to what was possible to achieve through music software such as Logic/Ableton. The creative possibilities absolutely blew my mind. I owe a lot to being lucky enough to be able to study music and be surrounded by that environment for four years. Since then, writing music has turned into an obsessive hobby for me and it’s the one thing that can always get me into a state of flow. I absolutely love it.

We’re really excited for your upcoming EP. Can you tell us a bit more about the ideas and inspirations behind it

Thanks and of course! The EP is a selection of my favourite songs I’ve written over the past year or so. Whilst the majority of the record is dance floor focused, it’s still eclectic in terms of the genres it crosses. It was created using a variety of hardware synths and drum machines mixed in with a bit of magic through Ableton. I made the clear decision when selecting the tracks that I wanted to ensure they all had the Wild Forts vibe and not constrained to one genre. I’m really buzzing about it, a lot of love and time has gone into it so I’m very excited to share it with everyone.

Can you tell us about your production process – what are the advantages of using hardware over software? Any challenges? 

I don’t believe that there’s any right or wrong when it comes to using hardware over software, as they each create a different aesthetic, both with their advantages and limitations respectively. What I love about building songs on outboard hardware is the idea that the final recording is just a single take after hours or days of practice; a pure capture of that very moment. I really believe that by doing that you can create a certain vibe as it allows for happy accidents. Also, by having a stereo recording as opposed to individual stems, it prevents you from getting lost and bogged down in tiny details for edits where you can sometimes lose the live performance feel. Recording live performances allows me to create and then say to myself ‘okay, this is done and it is a reflection on the best of my abilities at this time. Time to move on and make something new’. 

The advantage of using software is the more professional production quality by having the flexibility to micro edit individual bits. Whilst I used to make songs solely on hardware, I now combine both hardware and software to get the best of both worlds. From developing my production technique over the years, I’ve got to a nice stage where I can capture the vibe and feel of a live performance whilst allowing for flexibility on the production side through the use of Ableton or Logic.

Do you envisage yourself playing the tracks live and if so, where would your dream venue be? 

Scunthorpe Wetherspoons. Nah jokes, I will definitely be playing these tracks live. When I wrote the songs, I created two different takes or projects – one which is studio quality and production ready, then a second one with a slightly different format and saved sections into my samplers and loopers, meaning that I can play and improvise live over the top. I’m not 100% sure on my dream venue to be honest, but I know that I’d love to play in Slovenia one day. I went to some amazing free parties when I last visited, there was such a vibe and ethos of care and love between people. It’s a special place.

How do you find the Manchester music scene? Do your surroundings have much of an impact on your music?

The Manchester music scene is so culturally rich and diverse, with so many amazing venues, promoters, parties and people. It would be impossible not to take influence from such amazing surroundings, there’s so much going on from both club nights and bands.

You’ve welcomed some incredible guests to join you on your Forts & Friends show on MDR, including Pollination, Reynes and more. What value do you see in collaboration

Yes, I’ve had so many wonderful guests on the show, both close friends and more established artists who I want to showcase the talent of. It’s been great. Collaboration is very important to me in order to help each other out. I feel very lucky to have been able to showcase so many wonderful artists on the Forts & Friends show on Melodic Distraction, and it has equally led to many wonderful opportunities for me at the same time. I feel it’s important for creative people to help and support each other – it’s a difficult world out there to make it as a creative, and so a community built on care, respect and support for one another is always going to be better than the opposite.


If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice before starting your music career, what would it be?

To try to push your music out sooner rather than later. Don’t get in the headspace of it never being good enough, writing music needs to be fun to be it’s best. It’s also important to remember that what you create at that moment in time is the best you can do to your ability. Skills as a musician take years and time to develop, and to berate yourself or put yourself down is the wrong mind-set to have. I would also advise not to get too stuck on one song from a compositional sense. When I first started writing music, I would sometimes spend 6 months to a year micro-analysing an individual track before saying it’s ready. Whilst it’s good to hone your skills and ear, it does limit you on starting something new and creating more. Basically, have fun!

What’s coming up next for you?

More tunes, more bands & more livesets. I’m mostly excited about the latter two at the moment – I’ve recently sold half my studio to get this one mega poly synth that wants to find psyche. I’m going to perform another live set on Melodic Distraction in the next 4 months with new material and goodness also, so stay tuned!

Listen to the next Forts & Friends on Melodic Distraction on Friday 25th February. In the meantime, check out Wild Forts’ latest release ‘When You Come Around’ as part of Pollination’s ‘Open Culture: No Borders’ compilation below!