Mike Ferrians – Keyboards & vocals + spiritual guidance

Q: When did you start playing music? Why?

A: I started playing piano when I was four or five, just messing around on old pianos wherever I found them. I took guitar lessons for about a year at age 12, then got bored with it. Meanwhile, we got a cheap piano and my sister started taking piano lessons. She didn’t follow through. I fell in love with piano and took over lessons from her. I never looked back.

Q: What instruments do you play?

A: I am a pianist and vocalist. I can still play basic chords on a guitar, but I don’t play.

Q: What was the first song you learned?

A: You could say the first tune I learned was the one in my head. I have always been able to play by ear. My first big project after learning to read music was the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. It was a great piano reduction and once I had it down from memory I played it constantly, even for entertaining old ladies at tea luncheons.

Q: Which musicians do you admire?

A: I admire musicians across the spectrum of genres and eras. I tend not to attach myself too closely to any particular genre or artists. I’ve never played with any “famous” musicians.

Q: How do you approach your vocal work?

A: Again, the voice is an instrument. That’s how I approach it. In the band, I am primarily a back-up vocalist where color and tone is just as important as what kind of harmony I’m adding. I love singing harmony!

Q: What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?

A: Some of my fondest musical memories are from the old neighborhood where I grew up. Two doors down lived a family who played nothing but black artists. I cut a lot of my musical teeth on that stuff, and is where I learned to love Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power, Diana Ross, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Temptations. A half a block the other way I spent a lot of time in the basement bedroom of my best friend in junior high. His name was Leroy. Every day after school he would put on Handel’s Messiah, a gift from his parents. Then he would put on Rush – a gift to himself. We’d stare at the poster on his wall and sing “Fly By Night.”

Q: Were you influenced by old records & tapes?

A: Another young influence was Cat Stevens’ album, “Tea for the Tillerman.” I once had the entire album memorized … and still remember most of it. The other records we had around were my mother’s, and, contrary to most kids, I never spent a lot of money on albums or tapes. I just listened to everyone else’s.

Q: How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

A: Mistakes on stage are never exposed. They’re part of the act. This comes from the belief that every performance is a rehearsal and every rehearsal is a performance. In other words, you’re there to do the same work either way, and since there is no such thing as perfection, the point of it all is to have fun and enjoy it.

Q: Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?

A: I never get nervous before a performance. I never have been. I love an audience.

Q: What advice would you give to beginners?

A: Start slowly, less is more, it isn’t about you even when it’s about you. You’re always learning, always growing. There is no room for arrogance in music because it isn’t about you, it’s about the music; yet recognize that your soul is involved because it’s all about you, who you are, how you express yourself, how you make the world a better place through the music.

Q: I hear that you also teach music?

A: Yes, I teach music and have recently started my own company – IMC Studio. I teach vocals, harmonizing, piano and composition.