Name changes within the music industry are pretty common, with artists offering up a variety of reasons for their decisions. Prince’s infamous transition into ‘The Symbol’ was prompted by his legal dispute with Warner Brothers, while Mello Music’s Chris Orrick, changed his name from Red Pill to distance himself from growing connotations with the ridiculous men’s rights movement.
More recently, Chemo, veteran UK hip hop producer and travelling man, announced he is changing his name to Forest DLG. I knew he was a fan of the outdoors so the choice did not surprise me. In fact, it made perfect sense. So, I decided to pay a virtual call on the man himself and ask about his decision, and more importantly, as we both share a love of nature and the woods, find out some vital information about his woodland preferences.
Do you have a favourite forest?
There are just so many to pick from… Can I choose three? From the Khao Sok National park in Thailand, to the Ebro delta in Catalonia, and the Bedgbury Pinetum (a little closer to home in Kent). Just go on Google maps…. find the largest greenest bit of trees you can and walk right out into the leaf litter (Make sure you have a functioning GPS of course).
Top 3 trees?
Pine trees do something special to me. From giant Californian Sequoias to Siberia to the Mediterranean, the combo of blue sky, green leaves and red wood is always a winner. There’s a particular indigenous pine species on the Canary Islands which coats the hills and brings me much joy.
Ficus trees are also incredibly magical, they look kinda like HR Giger drawings – especially when they take over ancient Khmer monasteries like they do in Cambodia. On these shores, the silver birch is lovely. It is also home to a very abundant and beautiful medicinal mushroom called the Birch Polypore which has been used for thousands of years as an antibacterial, you can even use the underside of the mushroom as a plaster if you have a cut.
Which do you prefer, fungi or flowers?
I am deeply fascinated by the world of mushrooms. From edible, to medicinal, to psychedelic to deadly… there are thousands of species to learn about. Having a bit of knowledge about them gives you a feeling of connection to the natural world that I think is increasingly important. It also makes going for an autumn walk a bit like a computer game. But always be careful, never munch on a hunch!
If you could control one species of woodland animal, which one would you choose?
An excellent question. I would very much like to be able to morph into a kestrel at times in order to survey the forest and dominate young rodents. Deer are fucking cool. At a push I would take a weekend as a wild boar, as they really don’t seem to give a fuck and that kind of liberation is priceless.
What’s in your woodsman’s pouch?
I like to carry a compass, trail mix, a small (UK legal) knife, a net bag to stash any mushroom finds, a Lifestraw™ so that I can safely drink from rivers and puddles if need be, and a hip flask of Bunnahabhain just in case I meet a friendly troll.
And finally, what prompted the name change?
I suppose when I started calling myself Chemo I was a spotty teenager and it seemed like a cool word. 20 years later and I have to deal with awkward exchanges, e.g. “What’s your music name?” “Chemo.” “Oh that’s nice, my dad died of cancer last night” “I am sorry”. Plus I like to keep people on their toes, and having confusing aliases is a great tool. Also I doubt anyone really cares if I change my name. Actually, I like how Salar (Blah Records) put it: “Wow man’s gone from GMO to Organic”.
Twitter / Instagram: @forestDLG