Fred Farrell: Introducing
The lead singer of Preston band Saytr Play talks about the band’s influences, how his mum helped them get commercial radio play and which Narnia character inspired their name.
Fred Farrell, lead singer of Saytr Play; a local band who have evolved in such a way over the past two years to the point where Fred says: “I don’t really know how to describe our sound,” is a man who exudes charisma without being arrogant.
When asked whether being in a band helps him with the ladies, he’s coy. He’s self-deprecating: “I’m not the best looking,” he laughs: “but I’m quite confident. Let’s say I see a change in girls once they’ve seen me perform”
This is a man who didn’t even realise he could sing until he was 17. In secondary school he was always being sent out of class for misbehaving, when he was 14 years old he was diagnosed with ADHD and it wasn’t until he picked up a mandolin and started singing that he found a way to focus his frustrations into something productive.
When Fred got into University to study acting, he met Jamie Vere, the guitarist and it was in one of their acting classes that they decided upon the unusual name for what at that time was just an acoustic duo:
“The band started out as a double act. It was just me and Jamie Vere — the guitarist — and we did an acoustic set. We’re both doing acting and we were in a Greek theatre lesson and the name ‘Saytr’ came up and basically it means ‘half-man, half-beast’, like a Mr Tumnus type of thing. As there was two of us, I thought it was quite cool and Jamie thought it was funny cause you can say ‘oh who’s the beast and who’s the man’ and stuff like that.”
Two years on and the band has evolved into a four-piece, adding a drummer in Paul Kershaw and a bassist in Dan Crowther, but Fred was shocked when flatmate Paul expressed interest in being part of the band:
“I lived with him and didn’t even know he was a drummer! I listened to him and he was really good, but he just played a cajon at first, so it was still an acoustic setup. Then we added Dan as a bassist, who recording our music for us and we became a full-kit band.”
As a band, their influences are very diverse; from indie to grime, from Led Zeppelin to funk and even some music from musicals. Therefore, the potential for ‘creative differences’ is one that looms over them but Fred says that’s easily solved: “I just say, ‘let me sing, let Jamie play guitar, let Paul drum, etc.’” And Fred goes on to say that their different influences are actually a good thing:
“I don’t really know how to describe our sound. We always struggle trying and I think that’s cause of all the influences that come through. But I think it makes us different without trying.”
One thing that brought them to the attention of a lot of people in Preston was when they supported The Hoosiers at 53 Degrees and Fred has social media (and one of his friends) to thank for that particular gig:
“We got that when a friend tweeted us to tell us they were looking for a support act so we emailed them thinking it was a long shot. Straight away they messaged us back telling us we were perfect. From that they asked us to do Dan Croll, which was amazing, it was a massive gig and we supported Little Comets as well.”
Perhaps the thing that introduced them to a more nationwide audience though was the release of their debut ‘Day Saver’ EP and subsequent airtime on BBC Radio 2:
“[The release of the EP was] amazing! The first track on it got 1,000 listens over night, which for us is pretty impressive as we’re not a big band yet and it got played on BBC Radio 2 — thanks to my mum! Dermot O’Leary does a section on his show called: ‘Some mothers do indie’, so all these mum’s apply with their son’s music and anybody who he thinks has potential for the future, he’ll interview their mum.”
It could be easy for Fred to get carried away but he’s very much got his feet firmly on the ground. He has the release of the band’s second EP coming in April 2015 and they’re keeping the touring schedule to the North West for the time being, despite “looking into doing London” but what about his plans for the next five years:
“I’ve always said that in five years, I want to be playing festivals and also travelling around playing our music.”
But to quote a line from Satyr Play’s EP Day Saver, they: ‘won’t get off until the stop, when the moment feels right.’