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.
[ 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 'Eyeglasses' 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.