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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.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.