Interview by Courtenay Florence
Why don’t you start by saying a little about your history in music?
I’ve been playing music properly since I was about thirteen, playing in bands and stuff like that. The first band I was in was when I was twelve, I played keyboards and we were TERRIBLE!
We all got a little better and started practicing a little more. I started writing songs when I was fifteen and haven’t really stopped since. Picking up more instruments along the way.
Where does the passion for music come from in your family or is it very independent, individual?
My family has a real love of music, my mum especially. Her favourite songs are “Golddigger” by Kanye West, “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim, and then a lot of Bach’s Cantata’s.
My brother Tommy played the drums for a few years and everyone’s always playing something on the radio or whatever throughout the house, music has always been something that’s surrounded me.
I think the passion to create is something that comes from me but my family are very creative at the same. I suppose it always comes back to how you’re brought up and I was very lucky in that respect!
How do you identify your change in your music from when you started?
I think the main thing is how much I enjoy it. I mean, I’ve always loved playing music and making music but there was a definite moment when I was writing a song, it was my song “Strangers” and I thought “Wow, that’s not actually too bad.”
I just started making stuff I knew I would enjoy! If I’m enjoying it, chances are that so is someone else!
How would you define your music?
I think the best way I could put it is “Lyrically-driven pop-rock”, which has way too many hyphens for one phrase. But that’s what it is. I used to call it “Polite Pop” which is the name of my first EP, but it seemed too whimsical for me really.
Gotta grow up some time.
I was quite surprised to even read that you play the accordion. It isn’t often used in music anymore. Why did you begin to play the accordion and how did this passion arise?
I think the accordion is such a beautifully expressive instrument, I’m sure everyone has a certain view on what they think the accordion sounds like to them – a lot of people say French music but it’s a lot of stuff that no one seems to realise.
Folk, Polka, Mariachi. It is everywhere.
My love of the accordion came from the band They Might Be Giants. They’re like the godfathers of alternative music. They’ve been going since the early 1980s and one of the singers, John Linnell, plays the accordion. The second I heard it in their song “The Statue Got Me High” I was hooked on it. I’m an absolute super fan on They Might Be Giants, like to the point where it’s weird, they aren’t for everyone, but if you love them you love them.
It says on your website you can play six instruments that is quite immense, what was the first instrument you picked up?
Does it say six? This is probably super big headed, but I think it’s more. I play a bit of everything. The only thing I haven’t really tried for is brass stuff but I’m absolutely desperate to get a trumpet and start learning.
The first instrument I started to get serious about was the piano. I had a few guitar lessons when I was very young but I never got into it. The piano was where I started taking it seriously. Then the guitar. Then the bass. Then the drums. Then the ukulele. Then the banjo. Then the double bass. Then the accordion. Then the saxophone. Then the…you get the idea. I had a lot of free time and I’m always trying to do more and more and more.
I don’t think I’m world class on a lot of these instruments but I could play them live pretty well. I really just love playing instruments and making sounds. I’m sure my flatmates are going to hate me when I finally buy that trumpet.
I’ve seen you a couple of times at The Stannary in Penryn. Where is your current favourite place to perform and where do you wish to play in the future?
Yeah, I used to be the host of the Open Mic up there for a year and a half. It was pretty damn fun for the most part. I’ve been pretty inactive in playing my own stuff for a while, I’m missing out on some good new venues.
The best gig I think I’ve ever done was in The Studio Bar in Penzance. It’s a small place but when it gets packed, you feel like a celebrity. People just go mad in there! The sound guy there is fantastic and they sell this still cider that’s like…6%? It’s crazy and always makes for a good show.
I’ve got no idea where I’d like to play in the future, all I know is that I want to play more. If you play for the first time in a while, you get a real taste for it and you just want to play more and more. That is how I’m feeling now.
Where do you wish for your music to ending up succeeding to?
That’s a good question! When I was younger, I definitely wanted to be this world-famous crazy superstar but now I don’t really mind about that. I’d love to be able to make a comfortable living from the music I make.
There’s this great live record by They Might Be Giants where they refer to themselves as having been “destined for middle-sized rockstar-dom”.
I’d like a piece of that. Making money off my records.
However, about to get a £3 Meal Deal without the paparazzi knocking the sandwiches off the selves.
A quiet loud life.
We all have our independent views on music but what is your individual opinion on the current music industry?
Ooof, that’s a heavy question. It’s all a bit…messy, you know?
There are positives and negatives, as with most of life. The industry seems to be super immoral and corrupt and shady, have you ever read a contract that people who go on The X-Factor have to sign? It’s crazy, it’s like a death sentence.
I think TV has done a great job of making the music business look like the dream and so they can get away with murder.
I think the internet has been brilliant for the industry, it’s given everyone a voice – everyone gets a shot. Obviously, you can play the system and pay to win but you think about SoundCloud rappers that got plucked from complete obscurity to major label stardom.
The DIY thing is something I love and the success stories that come with it are brilliant. I also love the emergence of smaller, more niche labels with a bit more pull. Royal Mountain Records in Canada is a great example of this. They were founded by one of my favourite bands, Hollerado. Although, they ended up signing Mac Demarco and then they all got a bit more publicity. Whenever big corporations seem to run the land, you can always find little supportive communities, which I love.
Industry in the face of the industry.
Jack Ferry performed at our live session in November 2018. You can find out more about Jack on his Fern Sessions artist page: www.fernsessions.co.uk/artists/jack-ferry