ferns. interview #24

ferns is this 5 piece act from kuala lumpur (malaysia) that, back in 2007, left indiepoppers completely in love with their debut album 'on botany'.
fast forward three years and here we are: me, writing this article; you reading it and ferns preparing the release of their new album entitled 'fairweather friends'.

the album will feature 8 new songs:
01. missing lyrics
02. dismay
03. miss stormcloud
04. a funny feelin'
05. anti social scene
06. hey ok
07. i should be having more fun
08. when you fall sleep

before we talk with warren, check the preview of 'hey ok', one of the songs featured on their new album... the song is not yet finished.on warren's words: "that's a demo / work- in- progress yeah?".

 Hey OK by Ferns

interview with warren...
1. tell us a bit about your history... how it all began… and where the name ‘ferns’ comes from?
well, we're a bunch of long-time friends from kuala lumpur, malaysia who got together with the simple aim of making catchy, interesting pop music. we'd all been playing music for many years with a diverse background in loud sounds - metal, hardcore, indie-rock - you name it. in our slightly advanced ages, we decided that pop was the way to go for the sake of our eardrums and sanity :)
when we first started out, there was no scene or bands of a similar ilk to us at the time over here. indiepop, twee and whatnot were pretty much unheard of as well. so we pretty much did what we thought was cool and interesting and hoped that people would like it. some years down the line, the situation's different. due to the internet making everything more accessible, i believe the asian indiepop scene has been growing considerably. though I'd have to say that malaysia is still lagging behind, as we're still pretty much the sole representative :)

the name ferns came about because we looking for the most ubiquitous yet nondescript thing possible. and we dig one-word names, kinda like wilco - whom we love!

02. if your music were a planet, what would it look like?
a lovely green, verdant earth - a couple of million years ago before bi-pedal humanoids crawled out from the primordial muck and took to throwing their garbage all over the lawn.

03. name a few influences (music, film, comic book, historic figures… anything).
musically, we've always mentioned influences that nobody ever thinks we actually sound like - mercury rev, flaming lips, grandaddy, wilco, and of course any form non pre-fabricated pop music.

04. if the blog existed in 2007, ‘on botany’ would probably be the best album in our review of the year in music. since the first time i heard it, gave me this escapism feeling. if i had to turn the feeling into an image, it would be me on top of a hill, laying down looking to a sky full of stars slowly falling down during a warm summer night. could you talk about the making of the album and what were your intentions (if there’s any) creating it?
thanks! as we mentioned, when we first started out, we basically had zero points of reference in terms of the style of music we were creating or even any kind of scene over in malaysia.
we were pretty making it all up as we went along for the the first album on botany (2007). which is probably why some say it sounds like an unholy hybrid of ride and belle and sebastian :) but operating on pure instinct did work some magic, we believe.
your description of the feelings involved is interesting, because the basis of the songs were rooted in emotions and the lyrics instead of specific styles or sounds. we knew we wanted to make music that could evoke those kinds of feelings and we knew that we wanted to do it in a way that was somewhat unique to where we came from.

05. the indiepop/twee scene from asia is quite strong. could you talk about the independent scene in malaysia,  specifically?
we do have quite a healthy local independent scene. stylistically it runs across the board from hardcore, to metal, electronica, singer-songwriters, indie-rock. to make an observation though, the malaysian scene appears to be rather more american indie influenced via pitchforkmedia. which is a shame because there's lots of great music coming from other parts of the world - especially indiepop.
sadly, there's still no real indiepop scene in terms of active bands, ferns aside. fans here have to look towards our neighbours such as indonesia, who have something great going on over there what with megastar acts such as mocca and naif.
but we're still carrying the torch and we hope that we can do our bit to change that.

06. ‘fairweather friends’ is your new album and is scheduled to be released somewhere between october and november. musically speaking, what can we expect?
thematically, it's based on the shifting seasons that affect modern living and how we deal with it - taking the bitter with the sweet. musically, we took a grounded, organic approach to it, as opposed to on botany's dreampop leanings. that meant recording some songs live for the a more raw, earthy vibe, stripping things down and cutting out some reverb.
a more honest sound, we feel. there's also a fair bit more acoustic numbers with spare instrumentation and a greater focus on vocal emotion. that said, it also contains some of our most rocking, upbeat music on numbers such as "miss stormcloud" and "anti social scene."

07. it’s been 3 years since ‘on botany’. i imagine that new references and influences must have been aggregated… do you think it’s possible to give a few ideas of the differences that – as a group – you went through since the release of your debut album?
we've grown together as group and also gone through personal changes. but the biggest evolution would be a change of mindset and more confidence in ourselves. because on botany was our first record, we were obsessed with getting everything just perfect and that made recording quite difficult. with 'fairweather friends' we were confident enough to let our performance, vibe and music speak for itself and not strive for recording perfection or polish. beauty in chaos, so to speak. we wouldn't have been able to do that 3 years ago.

08. do you get to live of your music?
we're fortunate enough to actually get paid for playing gigs and selling albums. that said, everyone has a day job and a we don't live off our music. we do this because we truly love pop music and there's nothing in this world quite like making even a single person happy with your music.

09. any song(s) you’d like to cover?
we'd done flaming lip's "Race for the Prize" and electric light orchestra's "mr blue sky" (before the dodgy lilly allen version). probably something classic and super sentimental like the beatles' "long and winding road"

10. name the perfect place and time to hear your music.
a rainy late-afternoon, on a comfy couch with hot chocolate within easy reach!

11. recommend something you've been listening lately.
janelle monae's "the archandroid" is all kinds of brilliant. we listen to stuff that have no relation to the kind of music we play because that just makes things more interesting.

12. anything else you feel like saying? 
keep an open mind, an open heart and look out for our album soon. details on myspace or facebook.

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