Forest Blakk Opens Up About Tumultuous Childhood

Forest Blakk has been trying to write a song for his nana for a decade.

“She was my stepdad’s stepmom, and she was the first safe place I ever had in my life,” Blakk tells PEOPLE in an emotional interview. “I was 15 when I moved in with her with two garbage bags and a backpack. I landed at the train station in Montreal and I ran right into her arms. She welcomed me into her home. That was the first moment I had to breathe. She was my first glimmer of hope.”

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The kid who would one day become a renowned singer/songwriter had actually experienced a rather turbulent life up to that point.

“I think the word ‘tumultuous’ almost undermines how heavy it was,” Blakk says quietly. “I’ve never had anyone cheer me on before. My dad would rob me of that feeling. If I tried to play hockey, he’d try to pay me to score goals when I just wanted a dad to show up to the fights.”

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Forest Blakk.
Jimmy Fontaine

There is a silence, as if Blakk isn’t quite sure if he wants to continue this trip down a rather scary memory lane.

“My father sold me for 10 grams of cocaine to my stepfather and my stepfather bought my name from him. He bought me from him.” He pauses. “I moved 10 times a year. My father was a gangster. I saw guns drawn on people at a young age. I saw someone trying to murder [my father] on our front door. The guy shot him a bunch of times, but he lived through it.”

Fortunately, Blakk found safety in Nana’s basement and found an emotional outlet in the strings of a guitar. It was on that instrument that Blakk eventually wrote the song “I Hope You Know” with Steven Solomon, David Hodges, Drew Kennedy – a song that is now featured on his brand new Every little detail EP.

“I wrote that song to say that I really hope you know that every day I’m out here doing something, every time I play a chord, every time I make an album or an EP or I go out and play for an audience, I’m really thinking about you,’ says Blakk about his musical tribute to his nana.

Forest Blakk and Tooley Jones.
Derrick Birkmann

It’s an absolute wonder that despite the cruel challenges that Blakk has been through, he still found a way to serve as the creator of heartfelt songs like “Give You Love”, “Fall into Me” and “If You Love Here.” But come to find out that “If You Love Her” was also born out of a certain amount of pain.

“In the middle of making my second EP Sideways and I had been touring for about 22 months,” Blakk says of the song he co-wrote with Steven Solomon. “At the time I had this relationship and I thought I was going to marry her. And I haven’t really told anyone, but I came to her house and had an affair. My whole life fell out from under me.”

In 2019, Blakk returned to Los Angeles and lived in a car his label had rented for him, trying to find ways to survive on little money and very little confidence in his future. But in that pain came “If You Love Her,” Blakk’s breakout single, which has amassed over 310 million global streams in total.

“That heartbreak was the greatest gift I’ve ever received in my career,” says Blakk, who embarks on a 17-date North American headlining tour in January.

“I think the reason it connects with so many people is that love, even though it’s complicated, is quite simple in the sense of what you have to do. Just be kind. Say ‘I love you ‘. You don’t need the big house, you don’t need the big things. Sometimes it’s the little micro-moves that really shape a love story.”

Forest Blakk and Tooley Jones.
Derrick Birkmann

And now Blakk is living his ultimate love story together with his new fiancé, Tooley Jones.

“I feel like the whole world was black and white until the day I saw her,” raves Blakk. “And then everything was just painted with her. It changed my whole life.”


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