I can tell you a lot about Fareoh’s music from my classical standpoint, about his uplifting lyrical lines and stunningly complex yet melodic tracks, but the technicalities are irrelevant once you hear his work. You don’t need to know any music theory to realize that his music is more than just well put together—it’s artistically created and has an optimism that is infectious. Although each track of his is undoubtedly distinct, there is unique sound that makes its creator evident.
I recently had a chance to interview Fareoh a few days after he opened the sold-out Madeon concert at the 9:30 Club. At 20 years old, he’s part of a new generation of DJs and producers moving towards a more progressive house vibe. Polite and well-spoken with an incredibly charismatic stage presence, he’s definitely going to be a major player in the EDM scene. You can read the interview below to learn more about his inspirations, beginnings in classical music, and upcoming projects.
Si: Hi, this is Si with WRGW and I’m talking to Ian Spurrier, also known as Fareoh. So Ian, when did you first become involved with music?
Ian: At a really young age, my parents got me into music. I started with violin and then quickly switched to playing guitar, it was just much more my taste at the time. And I mean, violin at that point for me was more around classical music and I didn’t really develop that taste until I was older, studying music theory.
Was there any band or inspiration in particular that sparked your interest in DJ-ing and how did you really learn about the process? How did your musical background exactly evolve from studying guitar and violin to creating electro?
Definitely, the Bloody Beetroots were a huge crossover point for me, I was more into punk at the time and stumbled across them, which completely fit the electronic style I was looking for. They come from a strong punk background and I think the crossover, really, for anyone, is just finding something accessible in terms of their previous tastes and I guess what they’re looking for. So, I mean, to this day, even though they’re kind of different from my style, they’re still my favorite act.
For someone who’s new to the genre, are there any songs or artists that inspire you that you’d recommend?
I’d definitely recommend Madeon, I just love his tracks. His songs kind of come up with a nice vibe of simplicity even though they really aren’t simple at all. I mean, simple can kind of be misinterpreted with a negative connotation that, I can’t really think of a better way to phrase it, and I definitely don’t mean it in that way at all. Another artist that I’ve come across somewhat recently is Savant, who, he’s kind of more towards dubstep-oriented, but his stuff is truly, really incredible. It doesn’t really fit the dance floor vibe but it’s really hard to describe.
I was at your concert on Thursday and you were really charismatic and a really great performer, but tell me what your first time DJ-ing a live venue was like.
The first time I ever played was pretty terrifying actually. I closed for a party at Webster Hall in NY. I was playing like, Grum and Penguin Prison, and so I walked onto the stage to play with twenty-five hundred people there the first time I ever DJ-ed and was pretty much terrified.
So, do you still have a problem with stage fright or has it been better with time?
Oh no, I mean even then, as soon as I started playing, everything was fine. As soon as I got into it, it was cool. But, yeah, stage fright—it definitely happens in the beginning. I mean, I don’t want to show that to the crowd, but as soon as the show begins, it completely changes.
Do you have any performance quirks? Do you have any lucky charms or anything you really like to wear when you perform?
Not really. The only thing I really try to do is to actually walk into the club as close to my set time as possible just so everything I’m feeling is pretty genuine to my own set and I haven’t been sitting in a dressing room overthinking things. But in terms of rituals or stuff to wear, not really.
You’re only 20 years old and that’s pretty young for a DJ, so being part of this kind of “new generation” of a younger DJ-crowd, do you think there’s something that sets you apart from the founders of the electro scene?
Yeah, the main thing that I would say, for better or for worse, is a difference, is that we, we being, I guess, the younger DJs, don’t really have the habits and the, I don’t know, the experience and years invested in the early scene. So, whereas it’s my opinion that it’s a better thing because you have less boundaries set up for yourself, less habits that are already just second nature to you, so you can explore more and you kind of have a more of an open mind going towards things but you can definitely argue that the exact opposite way.
So you’re on tour right now and I know you’re heading to Toronto, tell me about your favorite and worst aspects of touring?
My favorite is definitely the hotel life because it’s pretty sweet just moving from hotel to hotel and having a perfectly maintained room and just not having to worry about that entire aspect of home cleaning and et cetera. But in terms of the Kaskade tour, the bus was amazing because I’m really not a fan of planes. That’s definitely my worst; my worst would be traveling by plane. Being six foot four, it’s pretty impossible to find a comfortable way to fly when I travel by plane.
You mentioned how Madeon’s music comes off very simply when you listen to it but it has a lot of musical complexity and so does your music—it’s also very lyrical in the way it’s put together. So from a classical perspective, it obviously has aspects that show your understanding of musical theory, so are things like that—chord progressions, triads, bass lines—are those things you think about technically when you make your music or is more of an innate thing that you’ve grown over the years?
Well, I think that the best way to approach things is just to have a very deep understanding of what you’re doing and then to try and come at it without using any of that, just to come at it making it as real as possible just starting out and seeing where things take you. And as long as you have the right fundamentals and the right way of working around that, it takes you in a pretty great direction.
Is there a song that you favor or that you think best exemplifies your unique sound?
If you asked me that a few months ago, I probably would have given you a really distinct answer. But, right now, I’m kind of doing a bunch of different styles, a bunch of different weird—well I kinda call it weird—but, I’ve just kind of just been drifting from the norm. Sound-wise, I just love to incorporate the guitar, in any way, sort, or form, either the guitar itself or any sort of guitar melody. I’m really just trying to widen my foundation and see where it takes me.
In addition to your unique sound, you also have an interesting stage name, Fareoh. Your love for Egyptian iconography is evident, but why does Egyptian culture exactly fascinate you?
I’m not really sure why it fascinates me, it just has ever since I first learned about it in second grade. It’s much more the imagery than the stories or the culture behind it, I just think that the people at the time were just clearly brilliant designers and they’ve got so much to show for it with their hieroglyphs and all their gods and everything, they’re just fascinating images.
Do you have anything coming out in the near future that you’re excited about? Is there anything production-wise that you think will be able to advance the field or are there any singers that you’d be interested in producing?
I’ve been really focused in the studio recently; I’ve been working really hard on an EP that’s going to be out pretty soon I think. In terms of producing a singer’s album though, I think at this stage I’m in right now I would do that just because I’m changing all the time and unless the singer, would be open to ridiculously random album choices, then I just don’t think that would work out that well. Maybe a couple songs would work or a track here and there. What I’d look forward to the most is doing more collaborations, with just other artists, because it’s great. I’m doing a couple right now, I’ve done a few in the past with my friends, but, it’s a great way to combine artists strengths and really learn from each other. Honestly, most artists are self-taught, especially in this genre. And there are so many different ways to reach the goal, or reach a finished tune and nobody has the same methods.
I know that you just released a remix of “Clarity”, is there anything else we can look forward to hearing from you?
The next thing I’m releasing is the vocal version of my track “Halo” I previewed, I think, about a year ago now, and that one’s coming out soon and that one I’m really excited for. And how I just mentioned the EP that will be out shortly after that as well and I’ve got a bunch of remixes I’m working on and other than that, not much really.
Would you be able to tell me a little more about the EP or is that confidential as of now?
I don’t know if I’m allowed to really talk about it yet. In that sense, I don’t really know how to describe it. The “Clarity” remix is kind of a taste of it. Because that track kind of has five different genre styles in it, and it kind of jumps between things. And I guess that’s the best way to describe the EP.
- Make sure you also check out the concert review from this same event!
Thank you to Fareoh for taking the time to complete the interview and Brooke Kayland & Staci Yamato from Atom Factory for arranging the interview!