He was born this way. A former medical student from Queens. Expelled from Choate, Kennedy`s boarding school, and Millbrook. Into Rock, the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd, and weed. Bruce Forest began DJing at the Power & Light Company disco in Binghampton, 150 miles north of New York. Taking his inspiration from Radio WKTU and Studio 92, from DJs like Roy Thode, Jim Burgess and Kevin Burke. A move to NYC, brought Better Days and Tee Scott, who Forest describes as the first real DJ he ever saw, extending records, creating new versions using two copies, playing with and controlling his crowd, only for Forest to be hired as Scott`s replacement. An appointment met with resistance from Scott`s loyal following who poured beer on the mixer, folded their arms and refused to dance. It was only when Forest hid himself, masking the booth, that the club`s regulars were forced to accept him based on the merits of his sets alone. Around `82 he started bringing in synthesizers, samplers, a Casio CZ101 and an Instant Replay, often with David Cole coming up off the floor to improvise keys over tracks that Forest remixed on the fly. One of the first DJs in New York to play House, after an introduction to Steve Hurley in 1983, Chicago`s Farley, Rocky Jones, Ralphi Roasario, Julian Perez, Chip E would all hang out at Better Days, and in return Forest would travel to the Music Box to catch Ron Hardy and then work in the studio with Farley & Hurley. In NYC`s Electric Lady C he undertook remix and production work with Frank Heller, the engineer whose 808 powered “Planet Rock”. Better Days closed in 1988 and Forest left for the UK the following year, living across the road from SARM West Studios, where he became the default producer for Boy George`s More Protein.
Bruce Forest`s DJ, remix & production career spanned Disco, Proto-House, House, Balearic and Acid, and he was involved in creating anthems in all. There`s the definitive version of THE song of gay pride. A song that ultimately serves as a paean to being different. A rallying cry for anybody whoever felt persecuted for not being the same (which is probably all of us). A call for acceptance and a proclamation of defiance. There`s THE re-edit of a WBMX-certified Italo classic (classic doesn’t do it justice). An edit made on the same machines that Forest would use in his sets at Better Days. There`s his collaboration with Farley and Hurley. One of the first House records to be played in Ibiza, by Alfredo Fiorito and Cesar De Melero. There`s he & Boy George`s mapping of the darkness moving in at the edges of that Second Summer Of Love. Plaintive piano mixed with the breakbeat. There`s the orbital rave monster that is “Right Before My Eyes”. I can see the top-knotted girls dancing backwards and forwards in formation. The Pop of Balearic`s Go-Go-Not-Go-Go. Talking heads and Amnesia open-air warm ups. David Cole vamping on Ray Charles / Jerry Lee Lewis. Jesus On The Payroll. And a hymn for unity, foolish perhaps. Hindi lyric, Gospel choir and Hari Krishna side by side. Such was the naïve optimism of the times.
There`s a fantastic interview with Bruce over at DJHistory.