American Idol’s contestants aren’t the only artist who receive recognition on the popular Fox series. Capitol Music’s FERRAS (pronounced Fer-AHSS) gained thousands of fans when his first single, “Hollywood’s Not America” was tapped for two episodes of the popular series.
The 25-year-old creates a daring collection of music inspired by great talent such as The Beatles and Elton John with the release of his debut album, Aliens and Rainbows.
Ferras recently talked with us about signing with Capitol, his advice to those trying to break out on the music scene, his album, and The N Tour.
FV: Hi! How are you?
Ferras: Hey! Good, how’s it going?
FV: It’s going well.
First off – “Hollywood’s Not America” – the first single off your album, Aliens & Rainbows has been generating a lot of popularity amongst radio and the internet. Everybody’s talking about it, you know, everybody is listening to it. When you were writing and recording it, did you think it would turn into this mega-hit?
You know, um… I don’t think I really knew what to expect at all with any of this. I think everyday kind of, uh, sitting back and saying “Wow.” But, I always kind of felt like this was something I was supposed to do and something I always wanted to do, but I don’t think you’re ever quite ready, you know. [Laughs] Umm, in terms of the song… I knew that it was special. I knew that it had a special message, and um, I’m really thrilled that people are connecting with it.
You know, you’ve been dubbed the new “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter amongst American Idol fanatics. How do you feel about that?
Umm… I don’t know. Is that a good thing?
Yeah! It’s as great song and American Idol fans really loved it, and they love your song.
Well, then hey, that’s amazing. [Laughs]
Everyone wants to know about the guy behind this track, they wanna know more about Ferras. Can you tell us about your start in this industry and how you hooked up with Capitol Music?
Yes! When I was 17, I decided to move out to LA from a small-town in Illinois… and uh… Southern Illinois. I convinced my mom; I said “Mom, we got to get out of here! I gotta be a singer.” [Laughs] And we packed up our house and we moved out to California, and sort of were there for about eight years before any of this actually happened. But, I spent most of those years just writing and trying to get on shows and auditioning for every single thing I could possibly think of. I did this show on FOX called Performing As, where I performed a song as Elton John on the show and basically the vocal coach, Gary Catona from that show; he asked me if I had a demo. I said, “Yeah, I have a demo. What do you want with it?” and he gave it to his friend and he didn’t tell me who his friend was. He said “I have somebody in the music industry who is a client of mine and I’d like to give him your demo.” I said, “Sure.”
So, like four or five days later I was working retail in the mall and I got a phone call and they were like “Ferras, somebody wants to talk to you”, so I’m like ‘ok’, “Hello?” – It’s Fred Durst and he’s like, “Hey! This is Fred Durst and I am Gary’s friend, he gave me your demo and I’d like to hear you perform live.” And I was like ‘what?’ [Laughs] So, we met up at a hotel and I played three songs for Fred and he was like, “Dude, I’m signing you. That’s it, like you’re awesome. You’re amazing and we’re gonna make a record.” I was like, ‘awesome’. So, for the next couple of years it took before we actually found the right record company that was going to give me the kind of support and you know, ‘artist friendly’ stuff that they felt I deserved – and um, finally ended up setting up a… actually, what happened was, we weren’t really finding a record company and so, I got frustrated. I moved out to Berklee School of Music, which is in Boston, to go and take some classes there and try and do something with my life and while I was there, Fred called and he asked me to come out on spring break. I flew out to LA and he had set up a meeting with the head of Capitol Records – Capitol Music Group, and um… I got signed.
Wow! So, it was a process but the pieces fell really nicely.
What direction did you take when putting together your album? How would you describe the sound and feel of the record?
Well, I think it’s very eclectic. It’s definitely a pop record too in the sense that, you know I think you can put it on and there are songs to be energized by, there are songs to drift off and totally sink into your own world and discover things about yourself. There are songs that express longing and emotion and love. It’s a very interesting introspective record, a self-exploratory record… if that’s a word. You know, it’s a piece of who I am and um I think that it’s not a boring record.
You know, I don’t think any of the songs sound the same… that’s my personal opinion. You know, I think it’s a good representation of who I am and the things that I want to say or feel at this point in my life. And as a song writer, those things change and we grow, and we become different people as time moves on… and I’m constantly writing. This record is definitely an excerpt from probably, the last 22 years.
Well, it’s definitely not a boring record. It’s a great record.
You’re currently on a high school tour presented by The N. How has the tour been going?
Amazingly! The kids are so awesome. We’ve basically hit like six or seven schools so far and just meeting with pretty much the performing arts division in each school… middle schools and high schools. We’ll do a performance, and then a Question and Answer – we, answer questions about the music industry and about me as an artist, and about my life. Anything the kids wanna know… and we take pictures, sign autographs, do meet and greets.
It’s been really rewarding to know that a lot of kids come up to me are like, “Oh my gosh, you’re so inspiring!” You know, “I’m a singer” or “I do this,” you know, “I feel like after meeting you, I can go and do this.” So, that’s really the ultimate thing is to inspire people, I think. Getting that kind of feedback… letting me know that, that’s happening.
What advice do you have for high school students who dream of having a career in music?
I’d say it’s so… it’s kind of trite. Because, you hear all the time from anybody, but literally, it’s “don’t give up.” [Laughs] It’s like; you’ll never know if you don’t try. You know, I’m going to be Simon [Cowell] for a minute… I’m gonna say, “Do it for the right reasons.” You know, unless you have a lot people saying to you “Oh my gosh, you’re so good” other than like, your mom. [Laughs] You know, or your sister. Sometimes, what we think we’re good at isn’t necessarily it… not to be negative. But, like – I had a friend once who was a miserable singer… [Laughs] and we would go out, and people would say “That girl is… not good.” She didn’t know it, she thought she was amazing and she wasn’t good.
That’s why I like American Idol, you see these people and Simon’s like, “You’re not good,” and they have no idea. But, if you know you’re good, and you know that it’s your passion, and you know that you can’t do anything else and everybody around you supports you, then go for your dreams. Do it. Don’t give up because music is one of the most rewarding things that we can do. It’s a way to touch people and a way to express yourself, and it’s probably the greatest gift that we have on this planet. So, don’t ever lose sight of your dreams and go for what your passion is.
Are there any plans in the works for a summer tour?
We’re talking right now to a few different acts, but we just confirmed some Sara Bareilles dates and I’m doing a bunch of the radio shows for like the pop stations. I’m doing a bunch of KIIS concerts, doing a bunch of like, the summer radio dates. I’m doing press, doing radio tours… so; I’m just going to be all over doing shows. I will be on tour, I just don’t know with whom yet or if I’m going to be headlining my own small tour.
Well, we look forward to getting out there and seeing you! Thank you so much! It’s been a pleasure talking to you. We wish you continued success.
My pleasure, likewise! Thank you so much.
“ALIENS & RAINBOWS”
IN STORES NOW!