“I write because it's a necessity,” says Ferras. “I need to express myself, otherwise I feel stifled, like I can't breathe. I write because I have to;” That urgency drives Ferras’ new self-titled EP — a showcase for the Jordan-born, Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and pianist’s lush, dark-hued pop aesthetic and unapologetically honest lyricism. Thanks to his sweeping soulful vocals, songs like “Speak in Tongues,” “King of Sabotage,” and “Legends Never Die” (a duet with his friend Katy Perry), feel both dramatic in scope and intimate in emotion, while “Champagne” and “No Good in Goodnight” are more uptempo with dramatic synths and hypnotic rhythms. “I think of every song as having its own world,” Ferras says of the EP’s sound. “I try not to categorize it. It’s a pop record with many different textures, but it's definitely dark in places.”
Ferras is the inaugural artist on Katy Perry’s newly announced joint venture record label with Capitol Music Group, Metamorphosis Music. Ferras and Perry bonded in 2007 when both were newly signed to Capitol Records. Ferras released a critically-acclaimed debut album, 2008’s Aliens & Rainbows — which All-Music called “fabulous pop of astounding depth and beauty,” noting Ferras’ “remarkable ability to bait a hook” and “thoughtful, eloquent lyrics” — before he was 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. “Her instincts are really on point,” he says of Perry, who serves as the EP’s executive producer. “She is very blunt and doesn’t sugar-coat things, which I appreciate. Also, she gave me the freedom to do what I wanted musically and was a natural partner.”
With lavish sonics courtesy of producers Greg Wells, A.C. and Billboard, Benny Cassette, The Monsters and the Strangerz, and Jesse Shatkin, the EP also finds Ferras scaling emotional highs and lows in his lyrics. “Speak in Tongues” tells a story of being in a relationship “where you lose the physical connection, creating this ocean of distance,” he explains. “It’s about reigniting the spark and re-building intimacy rather than resentment.” “King of Sabotage” describes “a character that I know very well,” he says. “In the song, the king of sabotage wears a beautifully tortured crown, a crown I’m very familiar with wearing. Like the lyric says, ‘when everything is perfect/you think you don’t deserve it,’ and then you sabotage yourself because you’re more comfortable in chaos.”
“Legends Never Die” is about feeling invincible. “It’s an ode to unabashed free spirits with wild hearts that burn forever,” says Ferras. “Champagne” addresses being left with nothing after a relationship crumbles without warning. It’s a dark and desperate attempt at holding on to something that’s already over, even if it was completely destructive.”
For as long as he can remember, Ferras has 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 split when he was five. Although 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, CA, where he spent two years hanging out with an eclectic group of “strange hippies, drag queens, poets, and druggies, just a bizarre mix of people,” he says. “I spent a lot of time going to clubs and, for the first time, was able to see a new world of coming into my own sexual identity and artistic humanness. Everything was suddenly open to me.” 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. “It was miserable,” Ferras says. “I got there and I was literally failing everything. I just didn't care.”
While Ferras was at school, a meeting was set up with EMI, which led to Ferras’ first recording deal. But when a new team arrived at Capitol, Ferras was dropped from the label. “That was the worst thing that's ever happened to me,” he says. “In retrospect, it wasn't, but at the time, I was devastated. I didn't know what to do.”
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, 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. “With Katy and our friendship, it felt organic and in the family,” he says of his second go-round with Capitol. “I'm very thankful for this opportunity. A lot of people don't get a second chance. I'm like a cat. I have nine lives. I'm a firm believer in a divine plan to everything. Had I not been where I've been, I wouldn't be where I am now. It's very simple, but it's something that I deeply understand now.”
Ferras is also looking forward to hitting the road with Perry in June as an opener on the North American leg of her Prismatic World Tour. “Being on stage is pure bliss. There’s no greater high than experiencing that exchange of energy,” Ferras says. “I can’t wait to feel that charge.”