First Look Friday: Stalk And Pursue Greatness With HUNTR
Millions of people cut their teeth, spend hours upon hours practicing their craft and may only reach nominal success in the music industry. As some artists will thrive in that curation and creation of their talent, others fall victim to harsh label politics and setbacks. For Gilbere Forté, he has experienced both and yet thrives in his continuous pursuit for greatness. The man we know as “Bere,” is no stranger to the OKP audience, as we’ve written about him numerous times over the years. Hailed by fans and applauded by critics, this Philadelphia-raised singer-songwriter-producer has impressed us all with his forward-thinking approach to avant-garde hip-hop.
Unfortunately, it appeared that the rest of the music game was not ready for his next-level, multifaceted style. After dropping his third offering, PRAY, GF mysteriously disappeared from the fanbase without giving those who were actively listening and engaged a satisfying reason behind his withdrawal. For months, GF held radio and internet silence as he built up something innovative, dynamic and sure to get people talking. To do so, he fell back upon the real-life, in-studio chemistry of fellow Temple University student and artist, Rakib “Raak” Uddin. Forté’s transition from producer to artist was, in part, due to Uddin’s musical input. Together, they discovered their flair and talent for creative inspiration and decided that joining forces was the best move for all parties involved.
We were honored to introduce you all to this vivacious alternative project known as HUNTR, which has already impacted ear-holes with songs like “Veins” and “Kindness.” Now, as Gibere Forté, Raak, Berklee graduate Nick Audy (drummer), Helly (DJ) and Karagandy-born Boris Likharev (guitarist) explore and showcase their gifts — HUNTR desires to break current music trends by demonstrating radical soundscapes filled with emotive restlessness. This week’s First Look Friday subject, HUNTR, is rich, dedicated, funky and a force to be reckoned with on the airwaves. As we sit down to chop it up with them, the group talks about their emergence as a band, what life was like before HUNTR and who’d they like to work with in the developing year.
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact on both sides of the U.S. What is it that Los Angeleans are seeing and hearing that the world has yet to discover?
Gilbere Forté: We kept a pretty low profile starting out, to see how people would discover and gravitate to the music without publicity and all of that. No one knew we were HUNTR until a few weeks ago and a lot still don’t. Thanks to Jason Kramer at KCRW, Los Angeles has definitely heard us though.
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they hone their skills and practice their craft. Who are the group’s most cherished influences in music and why?
GF: For me, my musical influences change from time to time because I listen to a lot of different stuff. Depending on where I am in life, determines who and what I connect to the most. Jay Z and Pharrell have consistently inspired me because they’re visionaries. Seeing Jay live in Philly a few times… or that time being pulled on stage by Pharrell at a N.E.R.D. show in college — those moments never left me! Their stories and the forward-thinking showed me it’s possible to transcend urban culture without compromising my identity. Seeing how many people lives they’ve touched—I want to do that. How they shifted culture—I want to do that. How many boundaries they broke—I want to do that.
Rakib “Raak” Uddin: Specifically, Dave Grohl and The-Dream. Crazy combination, but imagine that record! Dave Grohl’s story inspired me to stop overthinking so much and trust in my gifts more. When he went from Nirvana to Foo Fighters [it] was a huge leap, but he did it. Same thing with us, evolving from our previous projects to what has become the foundation for HUNTR — we are doing it!
I was in college when The-Dream’s melodies dominated radio and I’ve been a fan ever since. The simplicity and how direct he is with his writing inspires me to have zero filter when I write. It’s all from an honest place and you can truly feel it with the words. Also, A.R. Rahman; being from Bangladesh I grew up with my parents playing his soundtracks 24-7 after we moved to America. Seeing what he did culturally with film scores is what influenced my cinematic approach to production.
Nick: It’s hard to say for me. Most of my musical influences came from people before me. Being a drummer it was Animal at first, Buddy Rich who was the “Travis Barker” of his day and John Bonham. They all inspire me in different ways. Animal: to go crazy on stage and look like you’re totally out of control, yet in the zone. Buddy Rich: for his technicality and speed while being a household name. John Bohman: for his grooves. Even non-drummers can recognize that dude behind the kit and that’s something I aspire to.
HELLY: For me, my influences would definitely have to be a bunch of different artists. Growing up, I pretty much listened to everything. It ranged from Nirvana to Gorilla Biscuits to Dipset to Daft Punk. But I think the most cherished influence of mine would have to be N.E.R.D. Everything Chad [Hugo] and Pharrell [Williams] did made sense to me. From the fashion to the music and the sounds they used. In Search Of was my soundtrack for a long time.
Boris: Being from Kazakhstan I was first influenced by Russian bands like Assai, Ivan Dorn and Zemfira. But I was also inspired by Mike Shinoda and John Frusciante as musicians.
OKP: A song like “Veins,” which is very progressive and is paired with forward-thinking lyrical content has placed the band on the radar of music snobs who have a heavy presence in the industry. Can you talk about how life was for you all while developing as an entity in California? How did you all react to your first bits of press?