You could say that FORTHENIGHT is having a very good year. A few months ago, the Brampton, Ontario producer, born Charles Jr. Ocansey, picked up a Grammy for his work on “P FKN R” from YHLQMDLG, Bad Bunny’s latest hit LP, which just so happened to be the most streamed album anywhere in the world on Spotify last year. Now, on the back of that success, the 23-year-old has just inked a deal with Canadian producer WondaGurl’s label Wonderchild, a joint-venture with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Publishing. He joins fellow recent signee Jenius.
While the label affiliation is brand new, the connection between Wondagurl and FORTHENIGHT, who share Brampton ties, goes back a few years. “FORTHENIGHT has always been one of the talented young producers from Toronto, and it has been amazing working with him these past few years,” says Wondagurl. “I am excited to officially welcome him to Wonderchild and continue our relationship.
For the record, FORTHENIGHT is ready for this next step in his career.
“What it represents is actually being able to really show my creativity to the actual world, right?” FORTHENIGHT tells Complex about his new situation. “I feel like signing this deal will really take me to the next level in my career in terms of meeting new people and showing different people my sound.”
These latest developments are just the latest in FORTHENIGHT’s rapid rise to prominence. It was just a few years ago that he ditched his efforts to be a DJ and began to work on his craft, eventually circulating sample packs of his music. His meticulously cinematic soundscapes have proven to contain the right sounds at the right time, turning the heads of top producers like Frank Dukes, and persuading artists like KILLY, Dave East, and Don Toliver to enlist his services.
Despite his impressive progress, the best is likely still to come for the nocturnally-minded producer. We caught up with him while he was at home in Brampton.
As a producer, what does this deal represent in terms of the music you’re making. Is it that you’re going to be making a producer-themed album? Or does it mean that you’re just going to be just more kind of getting higher profile placements?What’s the more immediate short-term goal?
Well, the more immediate short-term goal is basically, I came in the game kind of as a sound designer, making samples or compositions for other producers, but also I make beats too. So it was more so me getting into sound design before, but now I feel like since signing this deal, I’m going to really transition into being in the sessions in studios with the actual artists and creating a song, whether it’s writing or just making the beat or just everything in general.
Another thing that happened for you, more recently, was winning a Grammy. I would imagine if I told you five years ago that you would be winning a Grammy for Best Latin Pop or Urban Album, you probably would be like, “What?” Can you tell me about that?
So I have a whiteboard. And on it I put basically all my tasks for the whole entire week, whatever. Then it has my goals, and I have my dreams. So the Grammy part was actually within the dream part. So I guess like, every single time, every day, I wake up, I just look at the whiteboard and ,you know, and I just kind of manifest, like, Hey, I’m gonna win a Grammy. I don’t know how, I’m going to do it. But it kind of just turned into, I guess, me winning it on a Latin Grammy.
Yeah. That’s really cool. What can you tell me about working on that track. How did it even come about?
Yeah, so how it came about was basically, as I said before, I make a lot of compositions. And when I make a lot of compositions, I put them on third-party websites to basically give to other producers to make beats out of. So what happened was, I made a sample pack called Night Expedition and it was basically like a space type of vibe, and it just had a bunch of different genres on it. So one of the vibes was kind of like a Spanish type of vibe. And basically, someone picked it up from Denmark; his name is TheSkyBeats. Really, really good guy. Basically, what happened was, he made a beat out of the sample, and then posted it on YouTube. It got a lot of buzz. And funny enough, Bad Bunny’s team actually picked up the beat. And when I found out, it was just crazy. I got a message and I had deleted Instagram for like, probably a week or so. Something just told me to check my phone that day, so I went to my phone and re-downloaded Instagram. What do you know, it was a message from SkyBeats saying, “Hey, you got a placement on Bad Bunny’s album.” I’m like, This is bullshit. This isn’t true. I don’t believe this. So obviously, I gave my information to my manager. And from there, I got an actual call from SkyBeats’ manager actually telling me, “Hey, like, this is like the real deal. Like, we got to placement. What’s your, your information?” And then from there… [Laughs.]
So hat’s kind of like your most recent situation. Again, congrats on winning the Grammy. But what can you tell me about just coming up in the first place? From what I understand, you were looking through your parents’ record collection, maybe when you were a teenager? Chopping up samples. What were your influences?
Yeah, so I was always like, big on music. You know, my sisters listen to music, my dad was in music, and from there, it kind of just really, really kind of just took over my life. I really wanted to, you know, get into music, but just didn’t know how to. So I actually first started out as a DJ; I started DJing for a bit, probably like from middle school, around Grade 8 or so. And then from there, I kind of transitioned into experimenting with beats. So from there, I kind of started chopping old records from horror movies or, you know, soul samples and stuff like that. And it basically just got really serious when my friend told me one day, “Hey, you should really take this seriously instead of DJing.” And that’s when I kind of made the transition into really making beats. And I really listened to you know, Boi-1da, a lot of Kendrick Lamar’s producers like Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Tae Beast—really, you know, the psychedelic type of sound I really liked. And that kind of transitioned into making compositions.
I really feel like the industry was very saturated with people making beats, so I really wanted to find a different approach to getting into the industry. So I really started to get into, you know, really listening to scary movie soundtracks, or just watching movies and really dissecting beats, and taking apart the beat itself in my head, and listening to the melody, and then listening to the drums itself, and kind of seeing what makes it sound good. So from there, I really started to get into compositions, really started to train my ear. I don’t really know how to play piano, but I can see that I have a really good ear. And it got me this far.
“A lot of my vibes, when you listen to it, it kind of has a night feel, you know? Driving in the night with the windows down.”
Can you be a bit more specific about what type of stuff you would listen to? I know you mentioned horror soundtracks. But are there any particular genres or periods of music?
Yeah, I listen to a lot of soul records from the ’80s and ’90s. I listen to a lot of psychedelic music from back in like the ’70s. Obviously, scary movies. Like, my favorite composer are Dick Hyman or Philip Glass, I listen to those guys a lot. And yeah, from there, I’ll kind of take pieces of their music and kind of turn it into my own without obviously using the chords that they use, but kind the overall sound of it, and making it my own meaning.
So what’s your actual setup for your creative process?
Right now I’m on FL Studio. Before I was using a lot of programs like MPC, Ableton Maschine, but basically I kind of stuck to FL Studio, cause I was comfortable with that. From there, basically, you know, I usually start with making a melody with a synth or a piano or a guitar, and kind of just make the chord progression first. From there, I would add weird textures in the background to kind of make it its own unique sound—my sound, which is basically which is for the night. My name basically means music for the night. So, a lot of my vibes, when you listen to it, it kind of has a night feel, you know? Driving in the night with the windows down. Yeah, that’s my type of sound. That’s how I’ll kind of describe it.
You said putting your stuff online was probably the turning point for you. How did you know you were ready to put your stuff up?
I felt like I was really ready when I perfected my sound. I really wasn’t releasing music in the beginning, because I didn’t really want people to say “this is trash” or whatever. But I obviously, you know, still got input from certain people around me that were in the music industry, like my cousin LordQuest [A&R at Warner Canada]. He’s basically one of the guys that really, really helped me starting out in terms of, you know, critiquing my beats and really telling me, “Hey, this is trash,” or “This is good.” So before I really, really put music out there, I was kind of perfecting my sound. And until I knew I was ready, until I can really listen to my music and say, “Hey, this is really, really good and I see these artists on it.” That’s when I actually was able to say, “Hey, I’m ready to put it out and see how people would react to it.”
So I understand some of the sample packs, the likes of WondaGurl and Frank Dukes became aware of you through that. How did you reach the ears of people on that level?
I actually met WondaGurl before I started doing samples, funnily enough, a long time ago. I heard of her through one of her cousins, who was a good friend of mine. He basically took me to a studio session and that’s how I met her before I knew I was really good. So from there, we kind of just kept in contact throughout the years. And then when I really started to get into melodies, that’s when I basically was like, “Hey, I make melodies now,” and sent her some stuff. And with Frank Dukes, that’s when basically I was kind of starting to do the packs on my own. So I released a couple packs like Moonlight Volume One, Night Expedition, certain packs like that. And then that’s when his Kingsway Music Library team basically actually introduced me to Frank to actually leave the pack with him. So that’s why basically, how the whole situation started with going under Frank Dukes.
And so what do you like working with Kingsway as opposed to the way that you would work by yourself?
When I’m working with a lot of the Kingsway guys or just with WondaGurl it’s very left field; they don’t want the safe stuff. So, a lot of the time I’m really making weird, weird, weird stuff that people usually wouldn’t want. And that’s the type of vibe that they actually, you know, love for a reason and why I feel like they like my sound so much.
What was the track that you worked on that made you feel like, I can do this, I’m never doing anything else.
I honestly felt like from my first placement, which was on KILLY’s Light Path 8 [on a track called “Half A Ticket”]. I knew I just got my first placement and you know, I can get more. If I’m able to get one, I can get anything. So from there I kind of just took it seriously. I really took it seriously and I think at the time I quit my job. I used to be a technician making a lot of money in the field and, you know, from working in a shoe store in Vaughan Mills. So from there, I knew that to take this to the next level you just gotta bet on yourself.
I know you and WondaGurl have worked together in the past, you’re both on the Don Toliver album, and I know that she has a forthcoming project. Are you working directly with her on something that we might be able to look forward to?
Me and WondaGurl, we’re always working, we’re always working. I’m always sending her stuff. So you’ll definitely see me work with her way more in the future. A lot of stuff is random, but when it happens, it happens. But I know when it does happen, and a song does come out with me and her again, it’s definitely going to be a hit. As usual.