Time Out São Paulo

Perry Farrell: interview

The Jane’s Addiction singer and founder of the Lollapalooza festival talks about the festival, arriving in São Paulo in April, and life as a rock star and father.

Why bring Lollapalooza to São Paulo?

I knew there were entrepreneurs interested in bringing the festival here, and when I came to see the location at the Jockey Club, I thought it looked like the festival grounds in Chicago, which are also surrounded by the horizon. At night, the city creates its own installation of lights: the view is amazing. Here in São Paulo, after the shows, we can go to the bars and clubs to dance and the music goes on – it’s going to be like a 24-hour party, yeah ...

At 52, you’re in good shape. Is surfing still one of your sources of energy?

Yes, I recharge myself with the ocean and surfing: though I was born in New York, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for nearly 30 years. When we have the festival here, I’m probably going to take a few days to go back to Maresias. I went there during my first trip to Brazil, many years ago, when I traveled with professional surfers.

You’re married with two kids. On your Facebook page, you talk a lot about your family life. Is there any contradiction between this and the life of a rock star? What has changed?

I have other responsibilities: I take my kids to school and I have to be sure they eat well, brush their teeth, you know? So, I don’t get wasted anymore; just the right amount. But I love my kids. I think it’s good for a man to grow from a careless and worry-free state into a situation with more responsibilities. Having a family, for me, is the next step. One of the things I appreciate most is being a father, a good father.

You’ve donated money to free Sudanese slaves, and helped musicians after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Are you involved with any other issues at the moment?

My wife Etty and I do some personal charity activities. When the situation is critical, we try to help. But I feel I serve best when I bring music to the cities of the world and give part of the money back to the community. We did that in Chicago – we worked with parks and revitalisation: we planted trees and reformed classical architecture, like an antique fountain donated by the Queen of England. We also developed programs for children, with music, dance and theatre camps and lessons. We want to leave São Paulo more beautiful, too: we’re getting in touch with some groups to determine the best programmes.

Returning to your music, Jane’s Addiction launched a new album, The Great Escape Artist, after eight years. How would you describe its sound?

I love the new album because it combines old and new musical elements. The voices, strings and drums are there, but it is electronically complemented, with new frequencies.

You were one of the pioneers in the use of audio effects in singing, like the flanger and the delay, which enhances the pitch of your voice …

Yes. I don’t know why people don’t tend to remember that. I would do loops with my voice, and there aren’t many singers that do that. The guitarist from TV on the Radio does it, but even for guitarists, it’s hard to do this live. I’ve used these voice effects since the start of my career; I appreciate that you remembered that.

What are you working on now?

I’m doing a duo with Etty, which right now is house, but we are mixing genres: we put a bit of dub in there, a bit of techno, electro. We also do some live shows, singing and dancing, with some improvisational pieces alternating with others we have ready.

Besides founding Lollapalooza, you’ve performed every year at Coachella. What attracts you to festivals? Are they still transformative? Is there still something of the community spirit of the old days? 

I started to play music in the early ’80s. At that time, we liked going to see independent bands playing live. Now we go more to clubs that have DJs, and less often to places that have live music. But people still save up for festivals to see groups playing live, partly because the money goes further – you pay three times less than seeing the artists separately. But you also go to festivals to see your peers, your generation, to see how they dress, act, flirt, what they think … it’s a type of community. In Chicago, the three days of the festival completely transform the city. On stage, when you’re connected to the energy of 60,000 people, you feel more powerful, it’s like an electric current passes through your body. It’s a magical experience.

By Fabiana Caso


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