April 21, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Youth Radio interviews musician Trianna Feruza

14 min read
Jenah and Journey of the KEPW Youth Radio Project interview up-and-coming musician Trianna Feruza.

Journey: Hello, I’m Journey here on Youth Radio at KEPW 97.3 FM, streaming online at KEPW.org. Today I’m here with Jenah and we are interviewing a musician named Trianna Feruza. Welcome to our show, Trianna. I have a question. (Shoot.) My first question, what kind of music do you play?

[00:00:22] Trianna Feruza: I play a plethora of music, but what I would call myself is, I do R&B funk fusion with a world music/hip hop twist to it.

[00:00:30] Journey: Do you play solo or in a band?

[00:00:33] Trianna Feruza: I do perform solo with either my acoustic guitar backing tracks if the situation calls for it. But if I have the option, I like playing with bands, just because of the energy that it gives off within live performance. I’m in a band called Wavfile. I’m also in another band called Gtri and I have a jazz trio.

[00:00:52] Journey: That’s a lot. (Oh, yeah.) Trianna, what artist inspired you?

[00:00:57] Trianna Feruza: Oh, what a great question. I’m a theater kid originally, is how I really got started was between having a musical family and musical theater. And the first rock opera to tour globally was David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album. And I thought that that was so cool, you know, it was so cool to have a concert that was also a play, where not only were you performing your songs, but you made them into a story, you know?

[00:01:27] ‘Cause that’s what albums used to be, is, they used to be stories. Every track was a different piece and it would lead you somewhere, but nobody really listens to albums anymore. So I’m hoping to start bringing that back.

[00:01:40] And what else? Who else? I love Nina Simone. I love Billie Holiday. I really love Anderson .Paak. Masego, FKJ. I feel like they’re the ones that are making it cool to be a musician again.

[00:01:56] As far as vocalization goes, I take a lot of inspiration from Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys. I think as far as songwriting goes though, I think that John Prine and Bill Withers are definitely some of my biggest inspirations as far as that goes.

[00:02:15] There’s so many, it’s hard—it’s hard to pick.

[00:02:17] Jenah: Coming back to the album where it like tells a whole entire story: So like, I’ll be listening to the music and I’ll be like, thinking of the story, like what I made up and stuff like, Yeah. It’s my favorite thing to do with my music.

[00:02:34] How long have you been playing music?

[00:02:35] Trianna Feruza: So my family does spoken world music. I was raised at renaissance fairs and within the North American belly dance scene and belly dancing and at different traditional, like, world cultural centers and, and folk jams and that kind of situation. My family does a lot of Balkan stuff, a lot of Middle Eastern, a lot of folk. My mom was doing belly dance shows with me when she was pregnant.

[00:03:00] So for me, in my family, all of the women dance and sing, and all of the men play music and sing. And when I was about seven and my mom told me that it was time that I started dance classes, and before I even knew what a queer identity was, I was like, ‘No, I want to do what the boys are doing.’

So I picked up piano when I was about seven. And then I started playing guitar at about 10. I started writing poetry at about 10 as well. But I didn’t start doing songwriting until I was about 13.

[00:03:38] I was in a slam poetry team for a while, and then I realized that I could just put my poems over the chords that I was learning and then and then everything kind of took off from there. So I was seriously playing at 13.

[00:03:52] Jenah: I’ve grew up around music, and piano was one of my first instruments. And then I started doing violin and like there’s always that time where like I’ll get a guitar and I’ll start like strumming something or I’ll see a piano and start playing what I learned before. And so it’s kind of like you said, I’ve always been part of music.

[00:04:17] Trianna Feruza: And isn’t it fun? It just feels good. (Yeah.) That’s my favorite part about being a musician is not only that, that I get to share my gift with other people and help them to—‘cause I feel, as a musician you have this opportunity of showcasing emotions that people that don’t make art can’t necessarily facilitate.

[00:04:38] And so it’s kind of like a way of helping people process through their own lives and emotions through your experience.

But also selfishly, I feel so lucky and so grateful to be a musician because, jamming just feels good, you know? Some of my favorite memories in my entire life are of impromptu jams around a campfire or me in my room at two o’clock in the morning. You know, just doing what feels good. And music feels all of the feels.

[00:05:07] Journey: What’s your favorite instrument, and why.  

[00:05:09] Trianna Feruza: I play guitar and piano and cajon. I also kind of play the cumbus, which is a Turkish banjo. I can kind of play the oud. But I’m mainly a vocalist, so I think that my favorite is probably the voice because it’s the most versatile for me.

[00:05:26] Jenah: Do you like to wear certain outfits when you’re playing in public?

[00:05:29] Trianna Feruza: Yeah. Yes, for sure. But I think outfit-wise, it really depends on the band. You know, it depends on the look. I think that presentation is a lot. I think presentation shows your professionalism as a band.

[00:05:45] Like if I’m in doing my jazz thing, in my jazz trio we usually play restaurants and wine bars, and that’s usually like a cocktail dress. Something super simple.

[00:05:54] If I’m in the funk band, I get to be a little funkier and dress kind of disco with the cool shirts and the bellbottom pants and the paisley belts and do my hair all crazy. And when I’m doing my acoustic stuff, it’s really, it just depends on the capacity of the venue as well. If you’re playing a big show, you want to put on a little razzle-dazzle.

[00:06:15] If you’re playing a house concert, you can just wear what’s comfy. Yeah, really, I personally really like to dress up, ‘cause I’m a tomboy in my regular life. I’m a real Carhartt jeans and wife-beater tank top kind of gal. So I don’t really have an opportunity to dress up until I’m performing, which is really the only time in my life I’m comfortable wearing dresses, which is so fun. I like—it’s the theater kid in me too, where I like putting on different characters and like, what would they wear? And getting to test out different personalities and yeah, it’s fun. I like costumes.

[00:06:52] Jenah: Yeah. When you started describing that, like outfits match the music, just like matching up with the band, you all have to be in sync, you all have outfits that like show what you guys are about, and so it describes who you are other than just the music.

[00:07:07] Trianna Feruza: I completely agree.

[00:07:09] Journey: Trianna, what do you find fun about entertaining people with your music?

[00:07:13] Trianna Feruza: Mm, so what I really want to be in my life, I’m a big fantasy nerd. The Silmarillion is my Bible for all of those Tolkien fans out there. So really I just want to be a wizard is really what I want. And I’ve only ever found that capacity within performance because you can—music is such a powerful tool if you understand how to utilize it, as well as performance, where you can bring somebody from crying to laughing to moshing to complete silence to everybody, you know?

[00:07:52] And when you have the audience in the palm of your hand, they’ll do anything that you tell them. You know what I’m saying? And you can cast these spells and there’s nothing more powerful and more vibrant than everybody coming together and doing the same thing.

[00:08:08] One of my favorite kind of shows to play is house shows where I’m playing my own music and I could do crowd participation and everybody in the room is willing and ready to do the same thing. So you can get everybody doing a snap or everybody humming a line, singing together.

[00:08:25] It really, it brings out the community, you know, ‘cause what we want to do is we want to be together. We’re really social creatures. So I think that one of my favorite things about performance is the ability to administer an atmosphere. I get to be a wizard and I get to cast these spells and create and cultivate a powerful experience.

[00:08:49] And that’s my job, is to facilitate the party and to cultivate whatever I want into the experience, and that’s the magic that I get to use and utilize. And I just think that that’s the cat’s meow, you know.

[00:09:06] Jenah: Like when you were saying you can have people, you can have people like come alive, the first image that popped up in my head was Queen. I don’t remember if it was their last performance, but when they were on the big stage and they had like everybody stomping and clapping.

[00:09:27] Trianna Feruza: Mm-hmm. That togetherness is so much energy, and that energy for me is some of the greatest feelings that you’ll ever feel, and I just feel really lucky to be a performer because that energy exchange is one of the most intense, crazy things I’ve ever felt, and I’m so addicted to that. Just the vibrations, the intensity, I’m really an adrenaline junkie and I just love I’m very into high intensity and Queen is one of my favorites. I think that Freddie Mercury is a bad man. He is just, whew! That man knew how to throw a show and and I’m just, what a great source of inspiration to pull from.

[00:10:17] Jenah: What’s your favorite song you ever played so far?

[00:10:21] Trianna Feruza: I think one of the most intense songs I’ve ever written would be this song ‘Eulogy’ that I wrote when I turned 18. I started going through a lot of really high-intensity things within my community and we started losing a lot of people. And I just remembered, I was just so sad, that my childhood was gone. I was sad that I had to pay bills. I was sad that I was responsible for my own success.

[00:10:51] I was just, I was heartbroken that I no longer got to just play, you know, it wasn’t my job to play anymore. It was my job to be respectful and have integrity and handle what I needed to handle because I was a grownup. And that was heartbreaking to me. And so I wrote a song called ‘Eulogy’ as a eulogy to my innocence.

[00:11:12] I think that’s maybe my favorite song that I’ve ever written. And I wrote it in about 15 minutes. As soon as I put pen to paper, I couldn’t stop writing. And then when I was done, I looked at it and did a little bit of editing, but not much. And a lot of the times those are the best songs that you could ever make, ‘cause it’s total stream of consciousness.

[00:11:33] And I wouldn’t say that it’s the recipe for a popular song. It’s not necessarily verse chorus, verse chorus. But it’s a really special, really, really integral moment of my life. And I feel really connected to it and very grateful that it exists. So I think that’s my favorite.

[00:11:50] Journey: Have you ever played a song that someone else made, but you just sing it for fun?

[00:11:54] Trianna Feruza: Yeah, lots of them. I do a lot of covers. I do this mashup of Sex and Candy, by Marcy Playground, Ready or Not by the Fugees. And it’s maybe one of my favorite mashups that I’ve ever made, and I adore it and I play it all the time.

[00:12:13] Jenah: We heard that you have played a big show like Lucidity and Burning Man. How was that experience for playing those on bigger stages?

[00:12:20] Trianna Feruza: Amazing. So good. So that’s what I want to do, really, if I had my—If I could cast a magic wand and be able to cast a spell over what the rest of my life was going to look like, I would be recording and touring for the next 50 years.

[00:12:38] Because I love that energy exchange. And while I love house shows in those intimate places, I also love, I love the bigger shows because it’s just such high-voltage intensity and it’s just like, it’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before. And at Lucidity I had won a contest with my dear friend Jackie Dope.

[00:13:01] And, yeah. And I got to bring my band Gtri out there and we crushed. We crushed. And it was so fun because at the beginning of our set, it was at noon on a Saturday when most people are asleep at the music festival. And we started and there was about maybe 30 people in the audience.

[00:13:22] And by the time we were done there was about 200, which felt amazing. Because nothing gives you a nod that you’re doing the right thing than a bunch of people who don’t know who the heck you are that just come because it sounds good, because they heard something they liked, so they congregated.

[00:13:39] And it was just, it was unlike anything I’ve ever done, and I’m very excited to keep doing it for as long as they’ll let me.

[00:13:48] Playing Burning Man was great. Burning Man was pretty similar. This is my first time at Burning Man this year, and I had scheduled a little set on Thursday and there was nobody there when I started.

[00:14:05] And what started as like two people ended up being like 40, 50 people, which was—it’s just nice to know that that the music speaks to people and it means something, and that they don’t need to know who you are. They’ll just follow their ears and you’re giving them the ear candy that they want so they come, it’s like a magnet, you know?

[00:14:22] And it felt really rewarding to be able to be on those bigger stages and to elicit that reaction was really, it was a nice nod that I’m doing the right thing, you know? ‘Cause as a musician there’s so many if ands and maybes because it’s so competitive. And a lot of the times you think to yourself, like, ‘Why am I any different than anybody else that wants to be a singer?’

[00:14:44] ‘What sets me apart?’ And really I feel like what sets you apart is how bad you want it and how hard you’re working on it, and it’s a consistent thing every day and sometimes you forget why you’re still doing it because you’re working so hard and it moves so slowly sometimes.

[00:15:03] And when you’re practicing every day, it gets a little monotonous and you start questioning, you know, what the point of it is, and if you’re even good enough to make it. You start having all these fears and all these insecurities.

[00:15:16] Then you play a show like Lucidity, and you have this moment of clarity where you’re like,’ I am a bad human being, I’ve got it.’ Like, this is why I’m doing it, is this feeling that I get when I’m performing my music in front of 200 random people that don’t know who I am that weren’t even there when I started my set, but heard what I was doing and thought I was dope. And that was my effect that I had on random people that didn’t care about who I was.

[00:15:43] They just vibed. And that felt really good. So it was really rewarding playing those shows and definitely gave me a nice memory to fall back on when I get stuck in that practicing monotony, because I know what I’m working towards now and I know what it feels like. And it just made me really hungry, to just, you know, Keep on keepin’ on.

[00:16:03] Journey: Yeah, over 200 people. That’s a lot.

[00:16:09] Trianna Feruza: Just wait till it’s 200,000!

[00:16:13] Journey: I’ll probably be one of them.

[00:16:14] Trianna Feruza: Oh, thank you.

[00:16:16] Jenah: Do you ever play outside of California? And how do people find you to book your performances?

[00:16:21] Trianna Feruza: People can find me to book my performances through social media or through my website, TriannaFeruza.com. That’s TriannaFeruza.com. Or you can find me on Instagram but yeah, yeah, just going with my website, click the contact page and hit up your girl.

[00:16:48] Jenah: Do you have songs on YouTube or on other internet apps?

[00:16:52] Trianna Feruza: Yes, I have my music under Trianna Feruza on all platforms. It’s on Spotify, it’s on Tidal, it’s on iHeart Radio, it’s on Pandora, it’s on YouTube. It’s on Instagram. They’re on TikTok, SoundCloud, wherever you stream your music, I got it there.

[00:17:11] Jenah: Do you have any new song releases coming up?

[00:17:14] Trianna Feruza: I do. So my band Wavfile and I are about to release our first album entitled Side Piece. And we’ll be releasing that next year. I’ve also been working on an EP with my dear friend Ryan and we’re going to be releasing a single in probably mid-to-late November. And then I’m also featured on a single he’s going to be releasing around the same time. I’ve been working on a EP with Gtri which is the funk band that I’m part of. I’ve also been working on a lot of personal music, so I’m hoping to release my next album Summer 2023.

[00:17:57] Journey: Where can people see you perform?

[00:17:59] Trianna Feruza: I’m performing a lot between Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, and throughout the Bay Area. I’ve also been doing a couple shows in Nevada City/Grass Valley and hope to just keep expanding.

[00:18:12] Journey: What’s your favorite animal?

[00:18:14] Trianna Feruza: I’m a cat person. I’m a crazy cat lady. If I made it as a musician, I would have a big high-ceiling house that I would build and I would build all of these little walkways for my cats so that they can climb in all of the rafters and have a bunch of things to climb on and lay on and all these cool different obstacle courses. And yeah. I love cats. I’ll go. I’ll follow them around and I’ll go: ‘Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.’ Yeah. And do a lot of like my voice warmups being like, ‘Fractal is the bestest cat that ever, ever was.’ And so I do a lot of cat jazz. But I’m still working on writing them a song.

[00:19:04] Journey: Well, I bet it’s going to be super adorable.

[00:19:08] Trianna Feruza: It will be cute. Can confirm.

[00:19:11] Jenah: Well, thank you Trianna, for letting us interview you.

[00:19:17] Trianna Feruza: Absolutely. I would love to share that song ‘Eulogy’ that I wrote when I was 18. (Trianna performs the song ‘Eulogy’.)

[00:24:02] Jenah: That was beautiful.

[00:24:05] Journey: I love the song so much. Thanks again so much for coming on our show and playing live for us.

[00:24:12] Trianna Feruza: Thank you Jenah and Journey for a great interview, and I’m so excited to be on radio in Eugene all the way out of Santa Cruz, California. Thank you so much.

[00:24:23] Journey: This has been Journey here with Jenah. We have been talking to Trianna Feruza from Santa Cruz, California, on Youth Radio at KEPW 97.3 FM, streaming online at KEPW.org.

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