As a teenager, Zeke Forever’s biggest source of inspiration was his older self. While he didn’t imagine spending part of his formative years in quarantine, 23-year-old Forever learned to embrace the isolation and loneliness that came with the pandemic. As the world begins to open back up, he is ready to release new music and reconnect with his community.
Forever was born and raised in Midland and moved to Denton in middle school. His grandmother was a songwriter and his parents were pastors, so he grew up surrounded by music. But it wasn’t until middle school when he discovered his desire to make music of his own. During this time, he discovered the microphone he used to play the High School Musical 2: Sing It game was compatible with his home computer.
“I don't even know how I found it out,” Forever says, “but I found out that I could connect it to my computer, so I started making music. I started with Windows Movie Maker, and I would just record my voice. And then that gradually turned into me finding recording software, and just making my own music.”
In high school, Forever says he struggled to find a place where he fit in. He never had a grand coming out moment, but was always open and proud of his gay identity. His pastor parents were supportive of him, but he didn’t feel that he fit in with the church. In school, he says he struggled to fit in with his Black peers because of his love for pop music.
Forever knew his best days were ahead of him. He gave himself the nickname “Golden Boy” and reminded himself that things would look up.
“My mom and dad are hard workers,” Forever says. “And the one thing that they have always taught me was integrity. I always knew that living my truth would be integrity. I've never really come out, I've kind of just lived.”
Years later, the nickname would serve as the inspiration for his 2019 debut album, Dear Golden Boy.
“I know I come with a lot of baggage, but that should never make me doubt myself,” Forever sings over an 8-bit inspired beat on “One in a Million,” a cut from Dear Golden Boy. As a whole, the album seems to be a journey to self-love, leading into a more optimistic follow-up project. However, on his upcoming album Kryptonite, Forever details the complex feelings that came with the pandemic. On the album’s title track, which is set for release Friday, July 23, he finds joy in his own company.
“I hate being alone,” Forever says. “I've always surrounded myself with people that didn’t necessarily serve me. And I think that this year, I kind of quit doing that. I think that I had to look at myself and be like, ‘OK, come on.’ And then I wrote that song.”
Another song from Kryptonite called “Determined” takes inspiration from his gospel roots. Although his upcoming pop-R&B album is more optimistic in tone, Forever says he frequently revisits the feeling of loneliness and has learned to embrace the bad in tandem with the good.
When Forever isn’t making music, he dabbles in graphic design and is working on his degree at Collin College.
Most of us are ready to move on from the pandemic, but Forever reminds us that in order to enjoy the good in life, we must learn and grow from the bad.
“Out of all the loneliest nights have come something beautiful,” Forever says. “There's no way that this album could have happened without the darkest days of feeling like shit. I'm really excited for people to listen to what I’ve been working on for the past year and a half.”