Ferras is the inaugural artist on Katy Perry’s newly announced joint venture record label with Capitol Music Group called Metamorphosis Music. The two bonded in 2007 when both were newly signed to Capitol Records. He released a critically-acclaimed debut album, 2008’s Aliens & Rainbows before being let go from his contract when management at EMI changed hands. He and Perry remained close and he was thrilled when she invited him to re-enter the major label world.

With lavish sonics courtesy of producers Greg Wells, A.C. and Billboard, Benny Cassette, The Monsters and the Strangerz, and Jesse Shatkin, Ferras' eponymous EP also finds him scaling emotional highs and lows in his lyrics. For as long as he can remember, Ferras used songwriting as a way to express his emotions. He was born in Jordan’s capital of Amman to an American mother and Jordanian father who separated when he was five. Though this was a traumatic experience, it was the catalyst for channeling his emotions into a creative outlet – singing, playing the piano, and eventually, writing songs.

At 17, Ferras, his mother, and his sister moved to Santa Barbara, California where he spent two years hanging out with an eclectic group of “strange hippies, drag queens, poets, and druggies." He eventually moved to Los Angeles, but when things didn’t proceed quickly, Ferras decided to enroll at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

While at Berklee, a meeting was set up with EMI, which led to Ferras’ first recording deal. But when a new team arrived at Capitol, he was dropped from the label.

Ferras didn’t give up on music. He continued to perform live and wrote songs for international superstars, including Adam Lambert and Ricky Martin. During these sessions, renowned songwriter Desmond Child introduced Ferras to fellow artist Sarah Hudson, who is now his main collaborator. They became instant friends, and their deep connection forged a creative bond that led to the songs that appear on his new EP.

It was during a visit to Paris with Perry when she told him of her plan to launch a label and that she wanted him as her first signing. He has also hit the road with Perry earlier this month as an opener on the North American leg of her Prismatic World Tour which comes to Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Friday, June 27. I caught up with Ferras during a short break in the already hectic touring schedule.

 

FDK: Congratulations on the tour and the new EP on Metamorphosis Music. You must be in the middle of a whirlwind right now.

Ferras: *laughter* I sure am. I have no idea what is going on in the best way.

You've already opened a few nights with Katy Perry. What has the experience been like for you so far?

Amazing. Insane. Everything I ever dreamed of and could never expect. Simply mind-blowing.

You have been a working musician and songwriter for a while now. Did you ever foresee your career going as far as it has now?

In a way, it really did take me by surprise. However, I'm not the type of person to give up on anything. If I really want something, I will do whatever I have to do to get it. So, on the other hand I'm not all that surprised that it did happen because I am that persistent. I never accept no for an answer. What's happening now is a testament to persistence. Keeping my head up, moving and shaking and just doing it. It's also very bizarre. Second chances don't come around a lot this way so I feel very blessed and grateful. I'm very excited and just trying to take it all in.

You two are pretty tight now, but I understand you weren't all that thrilled at first about the idea of meeting Katy back in 2007 when someone at the record label suggested it. Can you tell me a little about that?

We were both signed to Capitol Records within a couple of months of each other. We shared the same A&R guy and he really wanted me to meet her. All I could think was, "Ugh, another artist." I was really only interested in myself at the time. So I reluctantly met with her. When we finally did meet I became obsessed.

And you have been fast friends since?

We became instant friends. Over the years our friendship grew. She's one of my best friends now. She's always there for me in a lot of different ways. She's very motherly. We all call her "Mom" because she's the person you can always go to if you need help or advice. She plays that role very well.

How did the two of you start talking about your signing to her new label, Metamorphosis Music?

A couple years ago she asked me to come to Paris with her for Fashion Week. It was incredibly exciting. During the trip she told me she wanted to have a meeting with me. She told me she was about to start her own label and she wanted me to be her first signing because she really believed in me.

Given your past experience with Capitol Records how did this make you feel?

It was really mind-blowing for me. I decided if I was going to do this again, I could think of no one better who could help me with the process. She's done it. She understands it. And she has such a natural instinct for it.

So, what is it like to work so closely with someone who is also a close friend and a platinum selling recording artist who sells out stadiums worldwide?

People in the public eye are judged and perceived in a certain way. At the end of the day, people are people regardless of who they are or whatever amount of fame they may have. To me, she's just Katy that I've known for so long. When she gets on that stage she becomes this other thing. She becomes a superstar. But, when she comes off the stage she's just quirky Katy.

The visibility has to be great for your career but are there any downsides to being cast in such a bright spotlight?

With all of the new attention I have been getting, I love to Google myself. I'm also constantly on Twitter reading all of the comments and posts and whatever people have to say about me. It's so weird. I can read 10,000 positive comments about myself. Then I can read one thing that I think some people write just to get my attention, just some random mean things. Things like that can really get under my skin sometimes. So I have had to learn how to get a thick skin. It's a learning process.

As a recording artist who has been around for a while but is really starting to step into a whole new phase of his career, what is one thing you wish people could know about you and your work?

There may be some fans who still remember me from years ago when I first came on to the scene. Because of that, I think some people may have gotten a certain idea of what I am about. But, as an artist I feel like I have really grown into my skin. Who I am now as an artist is much different from who I was all those years ago. I've been experimenting with getting away from the piano more and trying to be more of an entertainer. When I was growing up, it was all about me sitting at the piano and having this experience just with myself. While that's amazingly therapeutic and cathartic in a lot of ways, because I write songs from so many different feelings, where I am at now in my life as a person and ultimately as an artist I'm interested in experimenting with different mediums and different ways of performance. It's very exciting to be where I am now because it feels authentic. It feels like there's something in the air helping me to move into this new person. I'm starting to discover how multifaceted I really am.

Do you enjoy the collaborative aspect of your work or is it hard to allow someone else to have a measure of creative control?

I absolutely enjoy it and it is imperative for me. I'm a natural collaborator. I've been doing it for years. All of my work has been the product of really great sharing and collaborations over the years. Everything from the spark of creativity to actually getting it out there and in the hands of the fans is a team effort. It's an amazing feeling being able to find kindred spirits who can help you bring your vision to life.

Everyone seems to be raving about your first single off the EP, "Legends Never Die," which features a duet between you and Katy. Can you tell me a little about the song and what it means to you?

"Legends Never Die" was the first song that I wrote for this EP. It is about throwing caution to the wind and just living. It speaks to that spirit you have when you're younger and you think that you're invincible and the only thing that's important is living for the moment. It's about a relationship, either a friendship or romance, that extends beyond any definition, and the hope that the moment that you're living in with this other person will find its way into foreverness.

It has been a hot minute since you released a full length album. Have you started making plans for another soon or is it too early for you to be thinking about that sort of thing?

I am working on a full length album. With Katy's tour happening the plan was to release the EP and introduce me to people, or re-introduce me in some cases, so we can build something solid slowly. As soon as the tour is done, I plan to start finishing it up and getting it out there.

You have been out as a gay man your entire career. Given the music industry's often wishy washy support of gay artists, has it ever been a stumbling block for you professionally?

It might have been a bit of a problem when the first record came out. It was really like there was a pink elephant in the room. Even with my label at the time, we didn't really even talk about it and it was awkward.

Other than the fact that Katy Perry is such a well known supporter of LGBTQ rights, how is it different for you now? Do you ever regret the decision to be public with your sexuality?

Now, we are living in such a great time where being gay is the new normal. We are definitely making great strides in that department. My sexuality has never been anything that has directly influenced my music. Its just always been and I am very comfortable with it. I'm proud of who I am and I wouldn't change any bit of it for anything in the world. Making the decision to be public with who you are is the best thing that a person can do.

 

 

Contact F. Daniel Kent via e-mail queertheair@gmail.com and Twitter @FDanielKent 

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