“We are the stars that shine/We don’t even have to try/We can go down in flames/But we’ll melt the world away.” Those lyrics are from the victorious-themed song “Legends Never Die,” a duet by singer-songwriter Ferras and pop star Katy Perry, off of Ferras’ recently-released self-titled EP. That particular song about being invulnerable could be considered autobiographical given what the Los Angeles-based artist had been through in the last couple of years.
Back in 2008, Ferras released his debut, Aliens and Rainbows, in 2008 via Capitol Records. It garnered favorable reviews, but due to some management restructuring at EMI, Ferras was dropped from his contract. In retrospect, it’s a baffling decision given the potential and burning talent of this artist, who was born in Jordan and later moved to the States. Fortunately vindication came through his friendship with Katy Perry as both were signed to Capitol around the same time. When she recently launched her new label, Metamorphosis, ironically through Capitol, Perry made her friend the first signing of her venture, hence the EP.
The music from Ferras is elegant, sweeping and sleek electropop-focused music with heartfelt lyrics — whether it’s about the angst of a relationship (“Speaking in Tongues”) and perseverance (the aforementioned and anthemic “Legends Never Die”) – with the singer conveying those emotions convincingly with his soulful and commanding voice. While only a five-song collection, it’s a promising sign of more new music to come from him in the future.
This summer, Ferras is bringing his music to a wider audience throughout the country as he’s currently on Perry’s Prismatic tour through October 11. Following his recent stop at Madison Square Garden last month, he spoke with NewBeats about his sound, Katy Perry, and getting a second chance in the music industry.
1. First and foremost, how is the tour going? What’s been the highlight so far on this trek?
I’m having the time of my life! I love meeting all the fans after the shows and hearing what songs they connect to. I’d say the highlight so far was singing my duet with Katy, “Legends Never Die,” to a sold out Madison Square Garden crowd.
2. You just came out with your self-titled EP just a few weeks ago. How does it feel to be back on a major label again, and especially being the first signing on Metamorphosis?
I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to get out there again and get my music heard. Metamorphosis has given me the freedom to be myself as a person and as an artist.
3.The songs on the album are very soulful, passionate, heartfelt and catchy. Even though it’s an EP, is there a common theme lyrically that the songs share? Do you draw from your own personal experiences as a songwriter?
All of my songs come from my own experiences. I’m not necessarily telling new stories that have never been told. I just try to find different ways of saying things. I’m very honest in my lyrics and I don’t really hold back. For a long time I think I was really afraid to be so honest but not now. Life is too short. And chances are, someone else is going through the same thing you are.
4. Tell me about writing “Speaking in Tongues,” which is a really dazzling atmospheric pop song—I believe it is about a relationship?
Thank you. “Speak in Tongues” is in fact about a relationship where words have gotten in the way and are used as weapons to hurt the other person. As a result of the fighting, a connection to the intimacy in the relationship is lost and creates an ocean of distance. The song is about using the language of touch as a way to get back to the basics. Sex is not the most important thing in a relationship, but it certainly can hurt it if it’s missing.
5. I particularly love the duet with Katy on “Legends Never Die” – it seems like the type of song destined to be in movies, TV and sporting events because of its anthemic and heroic theme—it’s so unifying. What inspired the song and how did Katy get involved?
I’ve always had a fantasy of running away with someone into the desert and just driving and almost recklessly leaving everything behind. It’s about channeling that spontaneous and impulsive youthful spirit that says “Tonight we are invincible”…. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing connections with certain people in my life and we’ve shared some experiences where we really felt like what we were doing in that moment in time would almost surely get written about in history books LOL/ ”Legends Never Die” takes me to that place.
6. How did you to get into music in the first place and who were some of your musical influences? Did you know early on in your life that you wanted to pursue music?
I knew from the moment I put my mom’s red high heels and ray bans on and used her hairbrush as a microphone ( at 2 yrs old) that I would do this for a living. I used to bang on the piano and pretend i was Elton at 5. I then became obsessed with Madonna and Tori Amos and Prince and David Bowie.
7. Do you remember your first professional break, whether it’s playing your first gig, getting signed to a major, recording your first song, etc.?
I got picked to be on a TV show where you would impersonate your idol. I, of course, was Elton. I didn’t win the show but I won the attention of some people who set up meetings for me with record labels.
8. You released Aliens and Rainbows back in 2008, which got positive reviews, but then you were dropped due to changes in business personnel. What kept you going during that period?
I went through a very dark time. I was basically tossed out to the curb. I had no money. No savings. I had nothing. I started going into a downward spiral for a while and partying the pain away- then I woke up one day and realized that the universe had a very different plan for me than I had for myself. It was giving me a huge wake-up call. I had to go through that to really be able to fully appreciate where I am now. I didn’t even know who I was then. I believe life is all about learning lessons and that’s the way that you grow and mature as a Soul. I’ve gone through a lot of shit but I’ve also had some mind blowing, beautiful experiences. Life is about the light AND the dark and I’m in a really good place now.
9. Are you currently writing/recording songs for a potential full-length release? Will it be in the vein of past efforts or something new and different, musically and stylistically?
As soon as this tour is over, I go right back into the studio to begin working on a full length album. I have some songs written already that I think are candidates but I also am having such dynamic experiences out on the road that I can’t wait to write about them. As far as the “sound” — I try not to box myself into a specific genre. Not because I’m trying to be “artistic” or “interesting” but because if I did, it would simply be doing myself a disservice and most likely I would misrepresent myself as something I’m not rather than what I am. WHICH IS: A combination of so many different styles and influences that it actually ends up strangely enough being its own thing. I’m a HUGE fan of the 80s. I’m a huge fan of dark, introspective and honest lyrics. I love a simple gut wrenching piano ballad and equally a song that makes you want to get sweaty and take all your clothes off and have sex and dance. One thing I will say, I always write from where I am or where I want to be. You’ll at the very least get something real. Whether it’s good pop music or not is really up to the listener to decide. x