Ferras, Tarot Cards & A Metaphysician: A Different Kind Of Q&A
After spending the last two years refining his sound, Ferras returned in June with a breezy banger called “Closer.” It was lighter and more carefree than we’re used to hearing. The darkness that permeated the singer/songwriter’s self-titled EP had seemingly lifted. I recently caught up with Ferras to find out more about his sonic shift and upcoming album. Only instead of discussing vague plans in a traditional interview, we decided to get a glimpse into the bearded crooner’s future from a tarot reader. Which made perfect sense to us at the time.
Our guide for this quest was to be Naha Armády, a Mystical Metaphysician (her official title) at House Of Intuition. She ushered us into a cosy room at the back of the Silverlake compound and offered us seats around a foldout table. Ferras explained that he was after some insight into the next few months and then, after calling on the 34-year-old’s spirits and ancestors for assistance, Naha started laying down cards. “You just got the three most powerful reversals that you can get in the entire deck,” she exclaimed excitedly. (A reversal means the card appears upside down). “The Devil, The Tower and Death.”
While this sounds rather ominous to the lay person, Naha was quick to allay any fears. “You got all three of those cards in their reversed form, which not only speaks to the fact that you’re switching a negative to a positive, but it is just so much more impactful by the fact that you got all three of them.” But more about that later. First, the cards had a little career advice. “Your card on the forefront is a reversed Moon card,” the mystic revealed as sunlight danced off the table of crystals behind us. “When the Moon card is reversed, you don’t have to worry about how you are perceived. You just have to do the most sensible, practical things at this point in time.” Ok, now let’s get back to that whole Devil situation.
“The Devil card is the card of limitation,” Naha explained. “It’s the card of fear, and when it goes reversed it is liberation from those things. It’s being able to have a higher connection with yourself, with your audience. Just with your relationship to your music and what it means to you.” Her conclusion? “This is you overcoming your own personal demons.” She then moved on to the cards closest to us, which signify Ferras’ future. “You start with the reversed Death card. This is about coming back to life… it’s about resurrection. I don’t even know what to say about how powerful all of this is. It’s all about overcoming and triumphing over difficulties.”
That has to be encouraging for an artist with more than one scrapped album on his laptop. Could everything finally be coming together for the “Speak In Tongues” singer? The fact that he drew The World card (yet another reversal) hints at an affirmative answer. “The World comes in in August, pouring a little bit over into September… when you’re in The World you’re incubating,” Naha explains. “You’re waiting. Waiting for the right time. When the world goes reverse, it’s like, ‘Now’s the time. It’s time to put this out there.’ This could be a release.” Funnily enough, Ferras did unleash a new single in September — the spiritual banger, “Medicine.”
So what else lies ahead? “The destination card is Page of Coins and it’s coming out upright. Remember I said, ‘You have Wands. You have Cups. You have Swords.’ Now you end on Page of Coins, so at the very end of all of this, the cards say there’s going to be money in your pocket.” In other words, Ferras is coming into money before the end of the year. “This is a little bit later in fall when you’re all bling bling.” The singer then climbed onto Naha’s massage bed for a crystal healing, which involved being covered in precious stones from head to toe. With our spiritual adventure nearing an end, Ferras and I headed to the garden for a quick debrief.
What did you make of the reading?
It was amazing. I definitely felt an energy take over once she started the reading. When she saw the cards she said that she had chills and, even though I didn’t know what they meant initially, when she said that, I also had this feeling come over me. It was very positive, there are things that I can look forward to.
Did the bit about going through hell ring true?
I think I’m a really emotional person and a very emotional writer. The ups and downs of human life fuel my creative process, so sometimes I wish that I could be like people that I see on the street. That just look happy all the time. I have an envy for people that seem to just go about life without really seeming to go to dark places.
There have been some downs over the last two years while I’ve been writing. Although I felt extremely inspired by the work that I’ve done and I’m really excited to release into the world — that process took a long time when you want instant gratification. The way the music industry is now, you can have instant gratification because you upload a song and in an hour people are like I love it or I hate it. I was like, “Can’t we just release stuff now?” I think being able to not rush things and really hone in on the direction that was best for me has been hard but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Is this new record a rebirth for you?
I think with each album or each new body of work it is sort of a rebirth, because you’re leaving one place and you’re doing something else. You’re inspired by different events and life happens, and you have changes. I definitely feel like I am having a rebirth. I think I always am. Yeah, that’s the beauty of life. That if we all just stayed in the same place it wouldn’t be very exciting.
Is “Closer” the first part of an EP or are you going to go straight into an album?
I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. I think I’ve written probably a hundred songs for this new phase, or whatever it is. For me I wish I could just release songs every single day, but it doesn’t really work that way. It’s definitely a body of work, how many songs will actually make that up I don’t know. If they tell me I can only have an EP then I’m putting as many songs as I can on there. This is an eight-song EP. This is a ten-song EP.
Is “Closer” indicative of your new sound?
I think so.
It’s more upbeat and dance-y than your previous songs. I’m used to you being in ballad mode.
I think most people have the same opinion. I think it’s been challenging for me to figure out how I do something that’s uptempo, because I love ballads. I really love stuff piano, I love that whole thing but I also love being able to feel like you can groove to something, and move.
It wasn’t intentional. I think that’s why it feels very authentic to me, because I wasn’t trying to write an uptempo song, it just happened. That day we were having so much fun in the studio. I’ve definitely had a few days with different writers and different producers, that happened naturally, and so I was like, “Okay.” Maybe I’m evolving in some way. I think it’s very pop. It’s not like “Speak In Tongues” where it’s a little bit left of center and it really takes an effort to listen to it and really understand it.
Who have you been working with?
I really love this guy Stuart Crichton, who produced “Closer.” I found a real chemistry with him. I feel like I’ve gone to a lot of different producers before and you get something that’s not really cohesive necessarily. Because I have such a great relationship with Stuart, I literally walk in and I say I want to do this today and he directs his sound to where I want to go. I really found it a dynamic partnership with him in that sense, and so production-wise I think it’s going to be pretty much Stuart.
There’s a couple Greg Wells tracks too, I love Greg. Actually they’re similar in a way, they’re really concerned with letting the artist have the moment, rather than the production being the most important thing. I’ve been working with him and a lot of different writers, just trying new things out.
What caused the delay? When I interviewed you in 2014, you said the album was coming soon.
Honestly, when you’re signed to a record label, and it doesn’t matter which label, there’s always a process that has to happen. I think that the feedback from my label was, “We want you to dig deeper and we want you to really just take some time, to find out what your angle is in this whole thing.”
I took that feedback and I was like, “Okay, cool. I don’t know what that means but sure, I’ll try.” I went in and I did what I thought was basically an album, and presented that and it still wasn’t right, in the label’s mind. Being on the Katy tour and just being instantly thrust into the world of arenas, I think that I maybe thought that my sound had to be something that would match that. Perhaps I was trying a bit and then when I broke it down to who I really am and where I want to go, I think there was a sonic shift that happened.
Then I met Stuart also, and I think that’s the kind of thing, I was waiting for the producer. I was like, “Okay, I need to find the producer.” It’s so hard because you literally have to try out fifty different people. There’s tons of talented producers in New York, LA, London, everywhere and I did that. That was my thing, I think that’s really why it took so long, because I was trying to find and hone my sound.
The first song I did with Stuart, he sent it to my label and they were like, “Wow. This is cool, you should do more with this guy.” Then the next song I sent it was like, “Wow, let’s do another one.” It’s about finding the right partnership.
So there’s a scrapped album on your computer?
There are many lost albums.
Given the lengthy process, does it feel even better to finally be releasing music?
I think anytime you get ready to release something into the world it’s really scary, because it’s like it’s your baby. It’s you art, it’s an extension of who you are. It’s your thoughts, it’s your inspiration, your creativity and your passion. Then you release it to the world and hopefully people are able to resonate with that and like it, and stream it or buy it or it share it, or whatever it is. I was actually really surprised at the reaction of it. The anticipation is great for the next.
Are you still to Katy Perry’s Metamorphosis label?
I’m signed to Katy and her label is actually not called Metamorphosis anymore. She just changed the name and it’s called Unsub. Unsub Records. It’s still on Capitol but it’s basically her imprint deal with Capitol.
Are you still the only artist signed there?
Does Katy have a lot of input into what you’re doing?
She definitely is like a big sister in a way, and also she lets me do what I want. She doesn’t have any input in the style of music or what I’m doing, she just is a really great supporter and she really believes in what I do. Of course, when it comes down to helping to pick the songs then she’ll help A&R it.
Is it easier to be an out LGBT artists now than when you started? It almost seems like a non-issue with you.
That’s an interesting question. I’m just going to be very honest about this, because I don’t think there’s any reason to skirt the issue. I think if anything, in my artist journey, my sexuality has in ways been a non-issue. However, in other ways, I feel like it has held me back. Not anymore because as you just mentioned, it’s such a whatever thing now.
I think early on when I really started trying to get a record deal, when I was 17 through to like 24. I would meet with people who I’m not going to mention but the feedback was like, “He’s gay. I don’t think we can touch that or it’s not going to work.” It was really major people and I think at some point that changed, when I got my first record deal with Virgin when I was 24. It was like my sexuality wasn’t talked about at all. Now, it’s a non-issue.
I was listening to your album recently and I think it really holds up. How do you feel about it now?
Aliens & Rainbows?
For a long time I couldn’t listen to it. It was weird because right after I released it, there was a change of hands at the record label and I got dropped. Then the record just died, nobody was pushing it, nobody was promoting it. I don’t think that it got a fair shot to really get worked and heard. There is a part of me that feels a certain nostalgic almost not sadness, but it’s like one of those things. I couldn’t listen to it for a really long time. Now I did actually listen to it recently and I was like, “Fuck, that’s good. That’s pretty fucking dope.”