Musician Ferraby Lionheart Discusses the Ups and Downs of Songwriting

Los Angeles-based musician
Ferraby Lionheart performed at the Motley Coffeehouse Feb. 18. Lionheart, a folk- and
country-inspired singer-songwriter, primarily plays the piano, guitar and
harmonica and captivates audiences with his romantic lyrics and gentle voice.

The Motley performance was sponsored by Scripps Live Arts
and organized by member Edie Adams SC ’12, a devout Lionheart fan.

“Having [Ferraby Lionheart] perform at
the Motley and getting to work with him personally was kind of a dream come
true. I just see him as someone who possesses such raw talent, and I think the
empathy and thoughtfulness that he exudes in person really come through in his
music,” Adams said.

The performance opened with Kitchen Hips, the
stage name of Aerienne Russell PO ’12. She describes her sound as “anti-folk
old-timey lovely lady psychedelic banjo tunes” and plays the banjo and
the kazoo. Kitchen Hips played a medley of tunes, including her newest song “So
Go.” Kitchen Hips’s sweet lyrics and warm presence put a smile on every audience
member’s face.

After the performance, Lionheart spoke with The Student Life.

TSL: What are your musical inspirations?

Ferraby Lionheart: I really like classical songwriters like
Cole Porter and George Gershwin. [I am also inspired by] music from theater,
like jazz standards and Broadway musicals. I don’t think that is classified as
folk, but sometimes I try and fuse those kinds of inspirations into what I do.
[My musical inspirations] really vary from week to week.

TSL: Where has your favorite place been to perform and tour?

FL: I usually have a pretty good time in Portland, Chicago,
New York and L.A. I [also] played a really great show in Scotland. It was
surprising because I was playing London and a bunch of other UK cities and we
got up [to Scotland] and I wasn’t familiar with that market at all, but they
were incredibly into Americana music. It was exciting to be so far away from
home and be welcomed with such open receptivity.

TSL: What is your ideal venue for a show?

FL: Intimate crowds like this—when people are seated and
they are quiet—it is most suitable for what I do because I feel like I play
intimate music.

TSL: What is your writing process like?

FL: Usually a little story in the news will stand out to me, and then I will take the basic inspiration and turn it into something more, to
make it more meaningful or poignant. I will kind of relate it to a personal
situation, or I will use it as a metaphor.

TSL: What are you currently focusing on for your next album?

FL: I have spent the past few months sort of regrouping my
ideas about how I want to approach my new record, because this is going to be
my third full-length [record]. I get really bored of my songs, which is
tough because then I don’t want to go out and play. I have taken a break, and tonight
is the first show that I have done in a while. I have been trying to figure out
what is it that I want to say in my songs. Because I am getting older, I feel
impacted by what’s going on in the world and society and by the state of our
social climate. What I am hoping to become as a musician is somebody that can
figure out a way to say something about the state of the world in a song… it’s
not like I want to be a political songwriter, but I want to be something like
that.

TSL: How do you strive to connect with your audience?

FL: Music is a spiritual experience, and I want to connect
with my audience in a spiritual way, but it’s tough because I feel shy and I
feel like it’s difficult to really penetrate the space between strangers. My
biggest goal in life, not just as a musician but as a person in general, is to
penetrate that invisible wall between people that do not know each other. I
will be striving toward that every time I go up on stage—just to bring consciousness
and positivity to a room.

TSL: What part of the process (recording, songwriting,
performing) do you enjoy the most?

FL: It’s all really fun. I really like traveling—eating
breakfast in a different city every day and getting to see the world. The
recording process is fun, but it can also be really frustrating at times. I
guess my favorite part is the magical moment as a songwriter when a really good
thing comes, like a little gem or a song that you realize is really good… [when]
I decided that [being a songwriter] was my purpose, all of my happiness was
based on whether or not I was coming up with moments like that—when I don’t
have any moments like that I get incredibly depressed, and when they do come it
is the basis of my happiness.

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