The hip-hop scene in Peterborough has long been something that passed, like an olympic spliff, from one generation to the next. Being such a small demographic of our city, there was always a mixture of locals and university students to carry the torch and ensure that hip-hop culture had some form of representation. That small circle of hip-hop heads is how I became friends with two high school kids, Jackson Parlevliet (a.k.a. Forest Gumption) and Will Campbell (founder of Quiet Confidance Apparel). Now, we’re all grown ass folks (myself more than them) and we sat down to talk about their friendship, upcoming projects and their show at the Gordon Best: Quiet Confidance x Forest Gumption.
Danny Taro: When was the moment you knew you were friends?
Forest Gumption: Oh, Will, that’s for you, my memory’s too bad.
Will Campbell: Back in the day, Jackson joined Premiere [Studio of Dance] and we became close. We were so young and there was a small group of us. I looked up to Jackson and he basically taught me how to break. We would go to the YMCA every Sunday and we just knew we were a crew.
FG: And now Will teaches me dance moves. The tables have turned!
WC: Seriously though, I’ll always be grateful that Jackson introduced me to breaking because it allowed me to do so many other things in my life. I was just a choreography dancer at that point and breaking added a huge element to my game. Jackson has always been there as one of my closest friends, even though he lives in St. Catherine’s now. If he comes to Peterborough, we’re always gonna kick it.
DT: When did you form your dance crew?
WC: In 2011, we were gonna be in this huge dance with 6 or 7 other guys and they all dropped out because they didn’t want to dance hip-hop. Our friend, Mark, and Jackson and I got put in this group and this was the original trio of the b-boys, the breakers. I remember being at the studio and Jackson would teach me one or two moves each week and then we’d put them into a routine. The following year, in 2012, we upped our game heavily. Some new members joined and seven of us formed a crew and we called it Breaking News.
DT: Forest, your sister, Monique, made a lot of the artwork for your music and even the designs for Will’s new brand, Quiet Confidance. Are you close with her?
FG: Oh yeah! She’s doing all the artwork for my music and I have so much music coming out this year it’s ridiculous. After not doing much in 2019, we’re going to be releasing a lot in 2020.
DT: What can we expect?
FG: I have three singles coming out. Then I have three songs with Thelonious, a Rexdale rapper who is playing the show with us on Friday. I’m also doing an EP with Gib, a rapper from Peterborough, that is gonna be produced by Petey Quills. Then, of course, I’m working on my personal album.
DT: What do you think is causing the surge in creative output?
FG: Last year I had my injury, I got a concussion, and I’ve been off work for 12 months. I wasn’t really able to focus and be creative. I was spending a lot of time not feeling very well and trying to figure out medication and stuff. Now, I’m starting to come around and feel like myself again so I’ve been writing a verse everyday, pretty much.
DT: How did you get the concussion?
FG: At work, driving truck. I slipped on the ice and basically ruined my whole year. It was my seventh concussion and this one was a pretty bad one. I had to get taken by ambulance to the hospital.
DT: How’s that worker’s comp life?
FG: It’s so boring but I’m thankful for it. I’d honestly just like to go back to work. Now that I’m making music again it feels like things are back on track.
DT: Can you tell us about Lofi Till I Die?
FG: Lofi Till I Die is produced by Beasty P, a lofi producer from Belarus, and he did a great job on the album. I felt like this album is still very underrated. It doesn’t even have a quarter of the streams or plays as Forest Fires and that was just for fun. I actually sat down and thought about what I wanted to say for Lofi Till I Die. It was more introspective and I wanted to tell a story and make an actual project. I released the album about a year ago but I never even had a chance to perform those songs because of when I got hurt.
DT: Did you release Lofi before or after your concussion?
FG: It was after. I already had it all recorded and released in April 2019. I think it’s a better body of work and I’m just now trying to get people to listen to it and understand what I was going for.
DT: Is it frustrating that people respond more to your playful nature than your more serious topics?
FG: It’s pretty natural, the way music is, that people want to have fun. To be honest, I still have songs like that on Lofi Till I Die, more so talking trash in a self deprecating way, but I think the real reason it hasn’t done the same is because it hasn’t received the same exposure. I just haven’t got it in enough people’s ears. I got really lucky with a couple songs on Forest Fires that got put into Spotify playlists and stuff like that racks up a lot of plays.
DT: What’s your favourite track from Lofi Till I Die?
FG: My favourite track is Nightmares, the first song. I think it’s nasty, grimey hip-hop style and to me that is classic Forest Gumption: 32 bars or straight rapping with no chorus, no funny business, just rapping, just bars.
DT: Thinking back, was there ever a peak time for the hip-hop scene in Peterborough?
FG: I’d say the peak time was Grand Analog at the Gordon Best. When you were here before and Small Town Vernacular was a thing. That era!
DT: Ahh that’s true, the Erroneous Autumn era.
FG: Yeah! One-hundred percent.
WC: I remember the Whiskey Club when Erroneous Monk opened up for Small Town Vernacular and played one of the cleanest sets I’ve ever seen! I still remember that to this day, I was thinking ‘Danny Taro is killing the mic right now.’
FG: That was a good ass night!
WC: We were busking a lot at that time too so everyone in the community kind of knew about “the breakdancers.” We were popping up wherever something was happening. We showed up at Festival of Lights, the Music Fest, Canada Day on Hunter Street. We’d go grab cardboard out of the dumpster of Brant’s Office Supply, tape it to the pavement and perform.
DT: How much is dancing still a part of your life?
FG: I try to dance once a week. I’m working at getting back into dancing, and I even have a routine for the show with Omega Crew. I have to lose 15 pounds and start practicing more again if I want to be dancing competitively.
DT: What do you think about a second golden age of Peterborough hip-hop?
FG: I’d say let’s get it ‘er going! Only thing is I’m in St. Catherine’s but I’m still gonna rep that.
WC: Jackson and I mentioned that [Gordon Best] is our favourite venue in town, hands down, for putting on any type of live performance. This show is going to be very cool that way. Everybody can feel the whole energy of what the night is about. You’re dancing, you’re drinking, you’re having fun.
DT: Any last words?
FG: Fuckin’ let’s go! I’m revved up and just want it to be Friday already. I’m ready to share this project and for Peterborough to see all these other rappers.