Avant-Garde Musician Forrest Fang On the Art of the Double Life
By Ned Raggett
MARCH 27, 2017
Forrest Fang wears many hats, but during this interview over coffee in the Mission, he’s not actually sporting any haberdashery. Instead he projects the comfortable ease of the longtime employment lawyer he is. Though not a native — he was born and raised in Southern California — he’s called the Bay Area home for over 30 years, living in North Berkeley and currently working for a firm in Hayward.
Many families would be proud of someone succeeding in law, he notes with a laugh. But Fang was going against his family’s grain.
“My whole family’s in medicine,” he says. “I worked one summer in a lab with mice and it just wasn’t for me. Tried it out, didn’t like it, more power to people who can do it!” A friend from high school first turned him onto philosophy and debate; he eventually graduated from Northwestern University’s law school, and went on to become a litigator with an expertise in employment law.
But while his clients may know Fang for his day job, another set of music fans worldwide know him for something else entirely. By the time he graduated from law school in 1984, he’d already self-released two albums of avant-garde ambient music. In the ’90s, he moved on to release through the Cuneiform label; since 2000 he’s most associated with Portland’s Projekt label. His sixth album for them, Following the Ether Sun, was released this February. It’s his 16th album overall.
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