In this Rolling Stone AU/NZ series, we take a look at some rising Aotearoa artists who are looking to impress in 2023 and beyond. It may still be an uncertain time for the Kiwi music industry at large, but exciting new artists like those included in this series keep on emerging.
When FERBY first impressed with her debut single, the foreboding “Bad Vibes Stuck In My Teeth”, you’d be forgiven for disbelieving anyone that told you that the emerging artist hailed from Lyttelton.
The exhilaratingly-realised slice of alt-rap sounded like it came from the deepest trap haunts of the US, not a port town in Aotearoa; as well as marking FERBY as one to watch, the track really emphasised the growing democratisation of music, where everyone can concoct the sound they want from inside their bedroom walls.
So when Brooklyn’s bruising alternative rapper JPEGMAFIA searched for a support act for his Auckland show last year, FERBY was selected despite the infancy of her career, going from the fan in the crowd to sharing the same stage as one of her favourite artists.
The girl with the big mindset from the small town has come a long way in the first couple of years of her career. FERBY has retained the quality of that debut track on her proceeding releases, including on new single “Devil”, which is glitchy and moody and possesses the dark-pop sensibility of current superstars like Billie Eilish.
You can read our in-depth interview with FERBY below, in which she discusses her love of Miley Cyrus, making “girly trap” music and much more.
FERBY’s “Devil” is out now.
Rolling Stone AU/NZ: How did music influence you in your early life?
FERBY: I think about hearing my parents play Fat Freddy’s Drop way too loud on poker nights whilst I’m in bed, and my older brother and his friends being in bands and attending their shows as a child. I definitely have tinnitus now. One of my favourite activities to do as a kid was watch the TV channel C4 which just endlessly played music videos everyday. I don’t think I’ve ever had a period in my life where I am examining and thinking about music as much as I was then which I think is funny.
What artists influenced you growing up?
I definitely got super into Miley Cyrus, then as I grew more into a teen I naturally spiraled into being obsessed with Paramore. I remember being so obsessed with Hayley Williams and would spend my time watching lyric videos to her songs while trying to imitate how she sings. I did not sound very good.
When did you discover your passion for creating music?
Since I can remember I knew that I wanted to make music and for that to be my thing. Only maybe four or five years ago did I actually get enough courage to begin that passion. I always thought I’d need to be a guitar player, but when I discovered Ableton, I realised I could continue my comfortable life of being bad at playing instruments and still make the music I have always dreamt of making.
What are some career highlights so far?
Getting to open for JPEGMAFIA was really cool. I have been such a huge fan of his music for years so it was a very special time for me. Also not working at a restaurant anymore is incredible!
What kind of personality traits and values do you believe it takes to succeed in the music industry?
I’ve been learning that it takes a lot of skills that aren’t just about making music, which has been really difficult for me. I think it’s important to be able to communicate well, stand up for yourself, and know your worth in certain situations.
How would you describe your music to a potential fan?
At the moment I like describing it as “girly trap” because I think that’s cute (even though my music is not just for girls). I frequently change styles and genres, so I would hope there’s a little chunk for everyone to enjoy.
Tell us about the meaning behind “Devil”.
How did fans receive “Angel”, your first single of the year?
Really well! I was surprised at the amount of people who loved it, as it was a big change from my past songs. They are more hard and aggressive. I think “Angel” is my first clean song which is kind of embarrassing.
What are your goals for 2023 and beyond? What can fans expect from you this year?
I have so much music to release! It’s super cool for me because I feel as though I’m learning so much with every song. You can expect to see more shows and hear a tonne of new songs.