LP Walkthrough: Ferla - Personal Hotspot

LP Walkthrough: Ferla - Personal Hotspot

A relatable, yet confronting release set to hazy synths and the smooth, disarming baritone of Giuliano.

(Photo by Ted Min)

Today comes a fever dream of a release from alt-indie group Ferla, titled Personal Hotspot - a studio album which harnesses singer Giuliano’s brutally honest self-assessment with an unfiltered take-down of our very messed-up world.

The release navigates relatable and confronting themes of existentialism, self-hatred, humanity, and the looming end of the world with comforting beats, flurries of nostalgic synths, and melodic twangs of guitars. Reflecting on the past to be aware of the current world is a strong theme musically and lyrically in the release, cleverly marrying 80s tinged sounds with Uber drivers and Netflix and Chill. Giuliano shares that “Life is ruthless, and at some point, one of our ancestors has been the cause of someone else’s misery. And then there’s me at the pointy end of the arrow of time, enjoying all the benefits. So I write songs, hoping that somehow it can help reduce the net suffering on earth. If the future’s too dark maybe you just gotta rub a couple of sticks together to light your way through.”

Out today, take a journey through the delightful soundscapes and very real themes of Ferla’s Personal Hotspot with their walkthrough below. 

Violence 

I read this the other day in Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files: 

“As Susie and I grow older, the anger at the indifference and casual cruelty of this world can still burn bright, but it does not define us, for the oxygen that fuels that anger is love — love for the world and love for the people in it. Love becomes anger’s great animator, as it should, as it must.” 

When I wrote this song a couple of years ago I didn’t know why I was writing it. It just happened, as most of my songs do. And when I read this from Nick it jumped out at me. It’s hard to despair, it’s hard to feel angry, cos those feelings come from love. Care. Care, cos indifference is a cancer. 

The film clip is a different story. I went on a run one day to Mount Cooper, “the highest point in metropolitan Melbourne”, which, at 137 meters above sea level, gives you some idea of how flat  Melbourne is. I ran there through some sad neighbourhoods to Bundoora Parklands and up to the top of the hill where I was met with view of powerlines, an abandoned concrete tower and endless suburbia.  ‘This place is just so ugly,’ I thought, ‘I have to immortalise it.’ 

The day we filmed it was 37 degrees and like a fan-forced oven. Melbourne was at the end of a two-week heatwave and everyone was feeling it. We drove around finding little liminal spaces. Fun, ugly, dilapidated places. The song itself is about being on a knife’s edge, fraught and taught and high-strung. Heatwave  Melbourne was feeling about the same. But lots of people that day were giving me smiles as I was grooving, sweating it up in a pair of wool pants, clowning around. One guy even joined in dancing. After multiple lockdowns, frustration, isolation and a hot summer, I think people were happy for the distraction.  The cool change came through at two pm and the sky broke open at three. 

Rita 

This song was written at a time when I was hideous and insufferable and completely in love. Simone and me went on holiday to Tasmania. We stopped on Bruny Island and had a swim, and I watched as she emerged from the sea and ran toward me. Time collapsed into a point and I’d never felt so happy. A full heartbeat of obsession. ‘Rita’ was written for Simone a little bit before this, at a time when I was still desperate to play it cool out of self-preservation but I knew, I knew it wouldn’t be long til I’d have to surrender. 

I came up with the idea for the clip when I was looking at current pictures of Cheap Trick and Axl Rose and  Carrot Top and how terribly they’ve aged. It’s like a complete lack of self-awareness. I don’t know how it happens, that people lose touch with themselves, lose touch with their vulnerability or lose touch with the thing that made them relateable, and then seek to hide it all through a veneer of photoshop polish or cosmetic surgery. Or maybe they’re just unable to come to terms with themselves. Unable to let go of a  past version of themselves that they can’t fit into anymore. I couldn’t quite get my head around it. Then I 

thought, ‘what if I’m just an un-self-aware loser too, and I just don’t realise becuase I’m a completely unself-aware loser?’ So I doubled down on it. Nick McKinlay and Loni Rae Thomson brought it to life. 

I See You 

'I See You' is my idea of a new-wave doomsday banger. The end of the world is people punching on in supermarkets over bog rolls while Supertramp plays over the PA system. It’s funny but it’s also depressing as hell. I was getting back into my sad disco guilt pop when I wrote it. I can’t escape it. It’s full circle.  Everyone’s sweating under their collars, temperatures are getting taken, tempers are boiling over.  Neurons misfire while the mainframe overheats. Babes are falling in love while billionaires lunch in low earth orbit. The ice caps are melting, baby.  

This song is dedicated to prejudice and self-interest. This song is a pink Hummer limousine being swallowed up by the earth. This song is for Satan. There he is, standing at the gates of hell, playing the  bongos 

Nothing Else Matters 

I was reading Gaudeté by Ted Hughes when I wrote this poem. I wanted to create something surreal and menacing, just like the world of that book. I don’t know if I succeeded but when I finished I gave myself an  A+. This was one of the very rare occasions when the lyrics came before the song, and so the music was informed by the words instead of the other way around. It’s a vibe. Meditative. It’s at a slow tempo too, 59  BPM, so like a tiny bit under resting heart rate.  

I’m Pulling the Weeds 

This song’s about redemption. Life is cruel, but it’s all we got. 

Only the Beginning 

We had a pretty excellent moment in the studio when Ro suggested we pull out the vocoder for this track.  We were doing 12 hour days and this came at the end of one of them. Kate, Ro and me in the control room together laughing at how camp and stupid and absolutely magical the vocoder sounded. Standout memory. 

Too Dark to See 

This song’s about how 21st-century comfort and natural selection combine to make a kind of Darwinian survivor guilt.  

My Nonno fought on the wrong side of WWII. He was an Italian and Italy was part of the Axis alongside  Germany and Japan. He was a poor man fighting someone else’s war. My grandparents did their best to pursue what they thought was right. I mean, some of us are descended from colonists. Some from mercenaries. Or war criminals. Everyone did whatever they needed to do to survive. Life is ruthless, and at some point one of our ancestors has been the cause of someone else’s misery. And then there’s me at the 

pointy end of the arrow of time, enjoying all the benefits. So I write songs, hoping that somehow it can help reduce the net suffering on earth. If the future’s too dark maybe you just gotta rub a couple of sticks together to light your way through. 

It’s Not Enough/I’m Not Enough 

I was at Piedemonte’s before I went to visit my brother, one afternoon when the whole world seemed to cave in on itself and I was swept away on a flood of panic.  

That’s what this song is about; having a meltdown at the supermarket. 

Musical Object I 

This is a musical object. After recording It’s Personal I stopped wanting to write personally. I’d plumbed the depths of my emotional world and I’d had enough. And just like the friend who’s always complaining about something, I was bored shitless of myself. I wanted a new approach to making music that didn’t include the expression of internal turmoil. I was all turmoiled out. 

I stopped listening to pop. It was too emotional. I wanted ambience. Kate and Tom bought me the music for Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes. I got a lot out of these. It made music an object, something that could be done because it sounded nice and filled a space, like a nice coffee table or a lamp or a pair of pants. This object is the musical equivalent of a nice pair of pants. Made to measure.

 

FERLA PERSONAL HOTSPOT ALBUM LAUNCH 

SATURDAY 26 MARCH @ THE NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB (NORTHCOTE, VIC)

W SUNFRUITS

TICKETS HERE 

Untitled design 37

Ferla’s new album Personal Hotspot is out now.

FOLLOW FERLA: FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM 

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