S2020 E488 | CLIP

NYC-ARTS Profile: Electric cellist Iain Forrest (Eyeglasses)

A profile of Iain Forrest, an electric cellist known as Eyeglasses, who is one of the musicians featured on a special edition of NYC-ARTS that explores the MTA’s Music Under New York program.

AIRED: April 09, 2020 | 0:05:15

[ Electric cello music plays ]



>> I started cello

in fourth grade

when our music teacher came

around for instruments.

So I picked up the cello,

and I played the first note,

which was a really low,

resonant note,

and I just loved the sound

of it, that bass note.

But after high school,

me and a friend,

we actually went out to the

streets of Washington, D.C., and

we started

playing contemporary songs.

And I remember the reaction

of people

walking past on the streets.

It struck me like, "Hey,

this can be really something

special here."

>> After college, I moved up

here to New York City area

for medical school

at Mount Sinai.

And one of the things

that drew me to New York City

was obviously the culture

that we have with the arts.

That's when I looked up MUNY,

Music Under New York,

and I found out they had

a whole audition process --

sent them an application,

did the audition.


And, thankfully,

everything worked out.

And the reason why I chose


is because of two reasons.

I want to be an ophthalmologist.

I want help people see better,

specifically kids who have lost

their vision at a young age.

The second reason, which is

a bit more lighthearted,

is that Beethoven,

he wrote a piece called

"Eyeglasses Duet."

When musicians sat down

and read the sheet music

in front of them,

there were so many notes on it,

it was such a tricky,

difficult piece to play,

that the only way musicians

could read the music

is if they wore really,

really strong glasses.

So I absolutely love

the story behind that.

I took inspiration from that.

[ Cello tuning, feedback ]

So, I play the electric cello,

and it's the exact same four

strings as an acoustic cello.

The only difference is

they stuck a little pickup

inside the electric cello

so it can be amplified,

so it's louder.

[ Cello plays Coldplay's

"Viva la Vida" ]

So, what I love to do

is also use a looper.

So, essentially, what I do is

I'll play a bass

part, percussion part,

a harmony part on the cello,

and then I can loop that segment

over and over again.

So it essentially comes down

to I'm playing

9 or 10 different cello

parts at the same time.

So it just opens up

a lot of doors

as to what I can do musically.

[ Cello plays Coldplay's

"Viva la Vida" plays ]




So, unfortunately, there's not

much sheet music out there

for, like, nine cellos to play,

like, pop songs or rock songs.

So, yeah, oftentimes

I'll just hear a song

on the radio or on Spotify.

And then once I've listened

to a couple of times,

I kind of extrapolate it out

and try to create, you know,

a cello rendition of it.



Amongst all that kind of, like,

chaotic energy, of

people, you know, bustling

and crowds moving,

I think the best part of that

is just seeing how the music

impacts these people who,

you know, are either

have their headphones on,

just watching their phone,

trying to get from point

A to point B

as quickly as possible,

and then just seeing them

being able to stop,

just enjoy the moment

for what it is.


In medicine and music,

you really have to connect

with the human being sitting in

front of you.

Helping uplift them with music,

I find it actually makes me

a better medical student

and hopefully a better doctor

down the road, too.



[ Cheers and applause ]

Thank you, guys.

Thank you so much.


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