Why I Make Music: Giuliano Ferla

17 April 2019

Photo by Kalindy Williams

Words by Melbourne muso and Triple R volunteer Giuliano Ferla

I just released an album called It’s Personal. For the past two years my band and manager and I have been working on getting it out into the world. It’s a time for great celebration and relief. But it’s like when I go to my niece’s grade two concert at the amphitheatre in Fairfield Park. As much as I love her, as much as I am proud, I am also bored to tears.

I feel the same about the record. It’s so great. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I am so proud of all of us for creating it, but I’ve had enough. I’m bored. I’m anxious about how it’s being received. I’m bored of being anxious. I’ve been having doubts about myself. I’ve been questioning why I do this. This is a hard job, I say to myself. What the hell are you doing, Giuls? But I think I got an answer to why I do it and to why it’s important. This is not just navel-gazing, I promise. I’ve put some thought into this.

Music is the most popular thing in the world, right? It’s everywhere. When you put the key in the car, when you’re waiting in line at the supermarket. It’s cross-cultural and it’s universally celebrated. It can express political upheaval or it can be a soundtrack to someone’s puberty. I’ve felt things through music that I’ve never felt before, ever. And I’m not alone. How does it do all this? I came up with an answer but it’s going to take a brief bit of explaining. It all boils down to how we make sense of the world around us.

Ok so, go with me here. I’m just going to condense the human pursuit of understanding into two very broad categories: art and science. Please excuse the over-simplification, but I’ve only got 600 words to express this so I gotta keep it brief. Science is a language through which we describe the world in objective terms, as in the physical world around us. Art is a language through which we describe the world in subjective terms, as in our experience of it. Ask a scientist to explain love and they’ll give it to you in what is observable and measurable: heart rate, dopamine, serotonin, etc. Ask The Beatles and they’ll play ‘Eight Days A Week’. It’s all expression. It’s all communication. It’s all valid. But it’s about what is being expressed: the external world and the internal one. We have a shared outer reality that science seeks to express and understand. But we also have a shared inner reality. And it’s art’s job to communicate that.

By turning the inner experience into art we are able to express the things that we experience alone. Sadness, happiness, anger, love: these are all experienced in the isolation of our minds. But through art the personal becomes communicable. Although it seems like we’re experiencing an emotion in solitude, we’ve actually all felt it. And someone has turned it into art. This is why music has the capacity to connect us. It reminds us that we are not alone.

And this is why I make music. It’s because I believe that we have more in common with each other than not. Music is something that has the capacity to unify. I’m sure Scott Morrison, Richard Di Natale and Pauline Hanson all have a favourite Beatles album. Don’t forget that. Tabloids will try to convince you otherwise. Social media will try to convince you otherwise. Teachers and religious leaders and opinionists will try to convince you otherwise but they’re wrong. The things that unify us are stronger than the things that divide us. I keep going back in my head to seeing Neil Finn at Meredith in 2010, and 15,000 people all singing along to songs about heartbreak or jealousy or new love. All these individuals coming together in common feeling. It was one of the standout experiences of my life. And I wasn’t even high.

Giuliano Ferla is a Melbourne musician who has played in bands for the past 15 years – most recently as songwriter for FERLA. His new album, It’s Personal, is out now. FERLA will be performing in Triple R’s Perfomance Space as part of The Golden Age of Piracy’s Tenth Birthday Celebration on Wednesday 17 April (10pm to midnight); they’ll be launching the album at The Tote on Friday 24 May.