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Andrew Farriss: Helping Canberra embrace local talent

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Andrew Farriss, is an Australian music legend, a talented songwriter and has lifetime of musical experience under his belt.

This year, The ANU School of Music was lucky enough to have him share his wealth of knowledge and experience as a mentor for the students and academic community of Canberra as the H.C. Coombs Fellow, a visiting artist-in-residence position.

This Saturday 24 October, The ANU School of Music and ArtsACT are hosting an event with Andrew himself, called Sound Bites ACT on campus at ANU Bar.

The inaugural Soundbites ACT concert will feature a line-up of local bands, allowing young artists to showcase their skills and develop their audience with the mentorship of experienced artists such as Andrew.

Andrew started his career in iconic Australian rock band INXS and for co-wrote such hits such as What You Need and Need You Tonight with INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence, but says he’s enjoyed spending time with ANU students in Canberra.

“I think its time for Canberra to really be proud of itself and have its own music and celebrate it.” says Andrew. “There will be such diversity in musical talents within the students in the bands preforming at Soundbites this weekend – I’m really amazed of the skill sets of these guys, they aren’t all rock skill sets, they’re coming from all different directions.”

“There’s folk, jazz, fusion stuff, rock, classical, everything. I think that’s what is cool about it, that it’s not just being polarised, everyone is into what they are into. Makes us all individuals.”

Andrew says that he respect shown to him despite a lack of academic background has made him feel very welcome. “I certainly only want to add value to what they do so well at the ANU, and they are all really supportive and encouraging in my participation so that’s been really good”.

Andrew speaks with passion when he talks about how important it is to be taught how to embrace your own style of music.

Early on this year he sat with his ANU School of Music students to generate and find out what they were trying to achieve themselves. “This was very interesting for me because also I realised that its just a career journey or academic journey that some of the students are on, they are just confused about how to make their way in, at times, a very difficult world.”

Andrew says that working with the students at ANU has been equally as beneficial for him as it has been for them. “I find [teaching] really good – it’s good for me. Working with these students has helped my own song writing skills, and what it’s done, actually, is reignite my own skill set.”

Andrew will be performing some new songs at his ANU Bar gig on Saturday night – some of which have never been performed before.

“I’ve been working on the arrangements with the students and making sure that the skills sets that the students are working on are in parallel and in harmony. The song, the key its in and the arrangement, all that’s stuffs really important because it will make for a good show. It’s been really good for me to step outside my comfort zone,” says Andrew.

“I didn’t really know these guys before I came here, and that’s been good for me.”

“[Saturday] will be an interesting night. It’ll be good to embrace the local bands that are there, as it’s a community event. It’s very important because the concept behind the show is exactly that. Part of what we are celebrating is supporting local Canberra acts,” says Andrew. Tickets to Sound Bites are now two for one, meaning that even more music lovers can get down to see the bands.

“I hope it goes really well – not just for me or for all of the artists playing this year but it would be great to do it again and make it a regular event. I think the thing that I am looking forward to most about the show is that I’m having some friends and family come along.”

While Andrew has worked and lived all over the world as part of his multifaceted career, he likes calling Canberra home, at least for the moment.

“I’ve been in Canberra quite a lot this year and I’ve actually really been quietly impressed,” he says.

“Not just the reputation it has gained political area of Australia, but more as a community and as a city. It’s a healthy environment in one sense, not a lot of major industry, traffic is low density, get around pretty easy lot of amenities, lot of cool things going on around the place. It’s a desirable place to live.”

the essentials
What: Sound Bites ACT hosted by ANU School of Music.
Details: With special guest Andrew Farriss, Soundbites ACT will provide an ongoing opportunity for young and emerging musicians to present their original music with the support of Canberra’s local music community. It will feature a line-up of local bands including The Gypsy Scholars, Hugo Lee Music, Eponymous, and more to be announced.
When: Saturday 25 October, 7pm.
Where: ANU Bar – Building 20, ANU, Canberra
Tickets: $15 + booking fee, available here. Tickets to Sound Bites are now two for one, meaning that even more music lovers can get down to see the bands.

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