image for IM//UR by Ferry Gouw
You may or may not know his name. If you don't, then that's actually the way that Ferry Gouw would prefer it. In any case, if you're a regular reader of this blog at the very least, you'll have most definitely come across his work before - Ferry's resume is pretty insane, and spans across a number of mediums, producing work for some of the most famous as well as highly respected names in indie music.
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Ferry proudly claims in this interview that he was lured over to London by two things: Oasis and football. Apparently, these two things somehow landed him a place to study at Central St Martin's (he met Tom Vek at CSM) and led to making friends with some excellent creative minds.
I find Ferry Gouw to be a rare kind of multi-disciplinary. To have achieved success in creating works of musical and artistic merit with a number of the biggest acts on the indie music block is no mean feat. It takes talent and mutual respect; and to have done so in such a low key fashion speaks volumes of an even rarer kind of creative, particularly amongst the colourful characters that haunt London. Particularly since Ferry's colourful and characterful work evidently have legs to walk and talk all of their own accord without any further prompting from him.
Illustrating and making videos with such zeitgeist defining names as Lightspeed Champion and their former project Test Icicles, The xx, Tom Vek, Simian Mobile Disco, Bloc Party, Good Books...and though not purely 'London' per se, Ferry was also largely responsible for vision and creation of the imagery for the now infamous Major Lazer project. Not to mention his own personal projects, most notably Semifinalists, leading me to his latest, Celestial Bodies, which also includes Edward Quarmby (of Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man), Tobias Revell (Whiskey vs. Faith) and Taro Smith.
So far Celestial Bodies is a darkly tuneful project; a delicately balanced soundscape that Ferry's vocals hang lightly on top of like a mist. Brilliant. Here's the freaky video for their debut single 'Vanity'.
Ferry's work is so successful to me in that it's ultimately satisfying and complete in it's execution. It doesn't have the lightweight feel of the tiresomely ubiquitous hot air that can so easily permeate into others' attempts at trying to achieve what he has. All done without losing a drop of humor in the process. And yet Ferry seems a humble guy, who really hasn't gotten caught up in the flotsam and jetsam of crap that goes flying around in the whirlwind of being a talented, hip and creative young thang in music and art, darling.
Hello Ferry - how are you? What have you been doing and listening to (and liking) today?
Hey! I'm kinda sickly with pathetic man flu. I've been doing tonnes of illustration/video work, as well as doing music n stuff. I've been listening to Kindness whom I love, and I got back into Crass and Death in June. But nothing beats Bruce Springsteen, probably my favourite musical act of all time.
I know you have a kitten - what's it's name?
What do you like listening to when you're drawing?
Bruce Springsteen or Talk Talk...
Growing up in Jakarta, what was it that drew you to go to school in London?
Hahahaha, honestly, Oasis and football. I'm not ashamed of it.
Did you take any music or art lessons as a kid?
Not particularly. I was always drawing, I learned music with everyone else at school.
Do your parental units understand your work?
No, my parents appreciate it. But they do wish that I'd cut down on the skulls 'n mummies 'n stuff. The other day my dad thought I did a song under the name Air France, and how much better it was than my usual stuff. TRUE!
Would you prefer to be known as a musician or an artist?
I prefer less recognition for myself, but the work can continue to live on, both as music or pieces of "art" (I dont qualify for that word).
Would you prefer to be a zombie or a vampire?
Neither, they both seem like horrible existence.
I really admire all your work, and your ability to have created really great things in more than one creative field. Obviously the creative industries will forever link to each other in innumerable ways, but which industry do you think is an easier environment to be in and why?
Wow, thanks, that's very kind of you. I dont think I'm involved in any industry. I'm so on the fringe of all that. My only relation to these environments is through friends that I collaborate with, who have asked me to do stuff for projects they have going, and that can go onto other things bigger or smaller in various fields. I'm lucky enough to not have to think about being in any working environment but in various working friendships/relationships.
What's your favourite medium (both musically and artistically)? If you had to choose between only being able to do one thing between all that you do, which would it be?
Pen an ink, or film, and Logic. I cant choose between them.
I read that you sent one of your early comics to Jeffrey Lewis and he told you to learn how to draw. What was that comic about?
Oh man, how did you find out? I was 18 or 19 or something. I was a real jerk, really sad all the time. My comic was probably about being a sad jerk. I remember it being shit and Jeffrey Lewis agreed.
Can you give us a quick run down of your musical history prior to Celestial Bodies, and then tell us what led you to this incarnation?
Semifinalists, Balls, Tyrannosaurus Jerk, Naked Babes, Poverty Jetsets, Intensedudes. It led to this by default, no planning involved.
Ambitions for CB?
None whatsoever. Hanging loose.
Thanks for working up a little draw for us Ferry!
Grab awesome Celestial Bodies track called 'First Time' below, then head over HERE to get the Vanity/Waste single.