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Trevor Ostwald has the kind of CV that makes you feel like you’re doing nothing with your life. Besides having 8 LPs and 6 Eps under his belt, the ambient/electro-pop artist also known as East Forest is a rugged adventurer with plenty of tales to tell. He’s tackled some of the world’s tallest mountains, slept in the Sahara desert, been chased by bears, and spent a period in the Amazon jungle.
Why? Call it a form of musical R&D – his recorder captures the sounds and atmospheres of these lands, all a part of the songwriting process. The practice emerged during his decade in New York where he was exposed to healing ceremonies, plant medicines, and indigenous traditions.
The elongated sessions of healing ceremonies provided the perfect platform for East Forest’s meditative, drawn-out pieces. Despite moving into a more accessible, pop-oriented format, the spiritual undercurrent is still the driving force behind his art.
His latest single, ‘Fresh Start’ (a collaboration with Portland producer Keith Sweaty), maintains the theme with whispered vocals, glossy synth textures, and ornamental piano splashes. Shamanic elements make themselves known through the harmony between the ceremonial chant of the chorus and the tribal timbres of the beats.
The crown jewel is the video, however; otherworldly desert scenes drowned in a lush, psychedelic wash while Trevor constructs his metaphorical cairn on top of a mountain. His recent divorce was the inspiration behind the tune – a contemplative work expressing the need to reassert oneself and find direction out of the mess.
“The past year I was going through a divorce and immense changes which caused me to riff on this idea – where do I go from here?” Says Ostwald. “I was looking for signs to show me the next step and was also interested in leaving a marker for others, if I found my way.”
‘Fresh Start’ is featured on the new album, ‘Cairn’ – available for free download.