Vinnie Ferra is a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, though a better term would be composer. Ferra writes and arranges multi-instrumental indie/folk/rock tunes, and his hard work has culminated in two albums to date. His most recent effort, arc en ciel, is set to release June 23. In anticipation of the release, Vinnie has published “God Forbid” and “Behind the Scenes,” two singles showcasing Ferra’s impressive ability to arrange emotionally evocative and simply beautiful music. He writes about “Behind the Scenes” on his website, saying: “It is the sequel to “God Forbid,” continuing the story of what comes after you’ve tried to move on. Lingering thoughts and strategies in your head. We tend to work in extremes when we are suffering from love’s pain. What can we do that is over the top enough to get that person’s attention again? This song touches on that while we become self aware of these desperate and sometimes futile attempts.”
In the following interview, Vinnie Ferra discusses his musical upbringing and influences, as well as other projects he’s working on.
How long have you been playing music?
It’s hard to pin point when it was exactly because I always “played” musical instruments, even if it consisted of chordless Guitar strums at age 2. However, I probably started playing music seriously about 14 years ago. Lessons, practicing, the whole 9 yards. Saxophone and bass were my first instruments.
At what point (if there was one) did you decide to pursue music?
I pursued it a lot with my one band in high school, which I played bass in. In 2009 I was working a job at MTV and when I left I decided to release music for people to hear. Then I moved to Boston and recorded what would end up being my first album, Man vs. Machine.
How have your songs evolved since you first started writing?
I hope all musicians evolve, otherwise what are they doing it for? The songs have become far more complex than my original material, musically and lyrically. At times it’s difficult to judge your evolution, but that is what I’ve gathered from my peers.
What projects are you working on now that your album is finished?
I’m working on writing more for another record hopefully, so many unfinished ideas to flesh out.
I’m musical directing for a few acts currently; Halsey, Lido, Tei Shi, Betty Who. Writing with my friend Nick on a “secret project” and producing an EP for Alex Essoe’s (female singer featured on arc en ciel) project; Junior.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
A few songs on this new record are not autobiographical… I find it fulfilling to write about other people’s hardships at times. Songs like “Father of Mine,” “House on the Hill” and “Ghost Town” are about others.
What is your favorite song you’ve written and why?
For this new record I absolutely loved writing “House On the Hill.” Such a journey writing that song, yet it all came from one sit down pretty much. I love performing “Behind the Scenes” because of all the syncopation.
“God Forbid” was the darkest writing process and probably my favorite.
Who would you say are your musical role models and why?
Sufjan Stevens for sure, Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes, Department of Eagles. Andrew Bird.
They all create music that is so musical and arrangement focused. Not just vocal melody and lyrically focused.
Describe your dream performance- where is it? Are you performing with anyone?
I’d love to perform in a cathedral, maybe even do a cathedral tour of some kind. With my full band.
What do you order at a coffee shop?
Used to be black iced coffee! Now water!
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Make friends with other musicians, you’ll bring each other up.
Anything else you want to say?
I really can’t wait to release this album honestly. It’s been a project for so long now, off and on. I’ve lived with some of these songs for almost 5 years. I’m finally ready for folks to hear them.
Listen to more of Ferra’s music on Soundcloud, and look for arc en ciel out June 23.