Anthony Farrell sings and plays keyboards with the Austin, TX trio Greyhounds, holding court behind a vintage Roland Juno-106 and a Fender Rhodes. The band's latest album Cheyenne Valley Drive was recorded at famed Sam Philips Recording Services in Memphis, TN. For these reasons and more, Farrell is our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.
NAME: Anthony Farrell
HOMETOWN: I was born in Oakland CA and raised in the San Fernando Valley.
MUSICAL TRAINING: My first real teacher was my mother. I learned to play on my grandmother's old Steinway upright piano in the house where I grew up. I played all kinds of music - from Chuck Berry and Elvis, to The Beach Boys, Jimmy Cliff and Muddy Waters. Later, I attended the Colburn School of the Performing Arts in L.A. where I had the privilege of studying jazz improvisation with saxophonist and arranger Harold Battiste. That was when I really began to understand music as a means of communication and self expression. One of the most important lessons Dr. Battiste taught me was that when making music as part of a group, listening is just as important as playing.
FIRST GIGS: I first played publicly on the Venice Beach boardwalk, beginning when I was around eight years old. I had a little Yamaha SHS-10 keytar that I would put on my lap and play through a Pignose amp while folks passing-by would put money in the blue sequined top hat at my feet
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: My earliest influences were the many diverse artists in my parents'record collection. I've mentioned several, but there were also Toots and the Maytals, Tower of Power, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Pablo Casals, The Isley Brothers, Parliament Funkadelic and a lot of great gospel music, too - Sam Cooke singing with the Soul Stirrers, for example. I even got to see the Staples Singers and Wilson Pickett at the Inglewood Forum as a kid. Fortunately for me, my folks had wide ranging musical tastes.
As a teenager in Los Angeles during the 1990s, I gravitated towards Hip hop and Electronic music. I was listening to producers like Dr. Dre, Marley Marl, and DJ Premier; and artists like The Beastie Boys, Portishead, Moby, and A Tribe called Quest. At that time, I had aspirations of becoming a Hip hop producer. A lot of those artists were sampling jazz and funk classics, so that naturally led me to explore heavily sampled people like The Meters, Booker T & the MG’s, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal and Bob James. I know there are varying opinions about the validity of sample-based music, but without it, I may have never discovered some of the musicians who have had a such a profound impact on the direction my musical path took.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Lately I've been listening to: Floating Action's Is it Exquisite? It's the brainchild of Seth Kaufman out of Black Mountain, NC, and it's a beautiful lo-fi pop record. Lots of Psychedelic elements and great melodies. Also Emily Gimble's Certain Kinda EP. The record was produced by my longtime collaborator Andrew Trube and is full of beautiful songs and performances. A great keyboard player and singer, Emily is definitely one to watch.
MY BIG BREAK: When I was 11, I auditioned to be on the “New Original Amateur Hour” hosted by Willard Scott, and I got accepted as a contestant. They flew my parents and me to Disney World for the show taping. I ended up placing second and winning a VHS camcorder. I really thought I had hit the big time. But, really, every day I get out of bed is a big break. Just the fact that I’m supporting myself by doing what I love makes me feel like I've made it!
LATEST PROJECTS: My band Greyhounds recently recorded our latest album Cheyenne Valley Drive at the one of a kind studio Sam Philips Recording Services in Memphis, TN. Due to the high demand for the studio and our extensive tour schedule, we had only a small window of time in which to do the recording. We selected the songs, rehearsed 'till we felt like things were tight, and then we went in there and knocked it out. The whole record was recorded live to 2” tape and mixed over a span of three days, A feat that would not have been possible without the great skills of resident engineer, Matt Ross Spang. My bandmate Andrew Trube and I also recently opened our own studio Buds Recording Services in Austin, Tx, where we have been working as songwriters and producers with artists.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? First would be the Fender Rhodes. Playing a Rhodes is just a pure pleasure. I feel like the Rhodes is an instrument which allows me to express a limitless range of emotion and inspires something new every time I sit down at one. Another part of the allure the Rhodes holds for me is the whole story behind the instrument. The inventor Harold Rhodes was a member of the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He originally designed the instrument as a small piano that could be placed on one's lap in order to help wounded service men learn how to play while they recuperated. He made the prototype out of spare airplane parts. Little did he know that his invention would have a major influence on the sound of generations of keyboard players, including Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Joseph Zawinul. Another of my favorite keyboards is the Roland Juno-106. It is one of those synths that embodies the 80s aesthetic so well and produces awesome sounds. And it is so easy to use; all the controls are so intuitive. Many keyboards can be intimidating for those with no experience, which can deter some from venturing any further; but you can put a Juno-106 in the hands of someone who has no musical background and they can start creating instantly. It's just a really fun keyboard.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I want to continually evolve as a musician and songwriter. One way to do this is to collaborate with other artists and see what develops. I'm still a big fan of Hip hop and electronic music, I may yet venture into that territory.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: My advice for all the musicians coming up right now is to find their own voice. You can study theory, play scales, and learn solos from all your favorite records note for note and emulate your favorite artists, but ultimately, those are all simply tools that enable you to articulate your own vision and share it with the world. The rules are yours to make and break. Your musical voice is unique and valuable and is what will set you apart, not only in music but in life. You are the only one who can do your thing. I look forward to hearing it.
For more information visit http://www.greyhoundsmusic.com