Ferg Ireland is a musician based in South London, he is primarily a Jazz Double Bassist but also plays Bass Guitar, produces and composes. Ferg has worked with artists including Sam Smith, James Bay, Marcus Mumford, Dave, Jason Marsalis, Johnny O Neal, Kansas Smittys, Soweto Kinch and many others. He regularly performs at festivals and venues internationally as well as in London, and has recorded at studios including Abbey Road and Maida Vale.
Please could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the role of music in your life up until now?
I am a Double Bassist (and Bass Guitarist/Producer/Composer) based in South London, I was born in Taunton but grew up in and around Sussex/London. I am primarily a “Jazz” Musician professionally but also work in the pop/session/hip hop/electronic worlds also. Music has always been something I loved and played from an early age (8) but really fell in love with it as a teenager and when I discovered Jazz through peers and teachers (luckily) that really became my passion. I hadn’t planned to necessarily make a career out of it but ended up trying out for music college/conservatoire after school and the rest is history… For the last 15 or so years I have pretty much earned a living only from playing/performing (mostly live but also in the studio), as well as bits of producing and teaching. I am now trying to cut down the gigs a little and focus more on producing and writing, partly for a change in pace and to spend more time with my two year old son Mally and wife Ruth.
What/who inspired you to want to become a musician?
At school age my main initial inspirations were all the greats I listened to (John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Paul Chambers, Ray Brown to mention a few from the Jazz Idiom) as well as lot of Hip Hop, Grime, Drum n Bass etc (there is too many to mention really) and teachers throughout my early and teenage years, (Caroline Emery, Alex L’estrange, Mornington Lockett, Steve Titchener, Jim Hart) and peers (James Maddren, Luke Allwood). Then since going to music college and being part of the scene in London I would say the many incredible musicians you are surrounded by and get to play with.
Could you share with us a musical and/or life highlight? How did it make you feel?
I am lucky to say there are many highlights I can recall from my musical life but a few that spring to mind are getting to tour with one of my heroes from childhood Soweto Kinch, selling out Ronnie Scotts with my band Kansas Smittys for the first time, and touring in the US and Brazil. Again there are many others but too hard to narrow it down! I have enjoyed a lot of touring in general, as well as during the smallest background gig in London where I have experienced amazing musical moments that have been equally spiritually fulfilling-its not always about the “impressive” stuff at all! In terms of life highlights – probably the birth of my son, my wedding day and many good times spent with my friends.
Could you say a few words about how music relates to mental health from your perspective?
Music plays a complex role in my mental health as it can be an incredible healing force to me, it is where I can express myself and has the power to be incredibly cathartic and uplifting. However the life of a musician is also very challenging and uncertain, and the rise of social media and constantly comparing yourself to others can be very negative and contribute to existing feelings of self doubt and depression.
What do you feel you can offer to a participant? What are your areas of special interest?!
I can offer advice on how to navigate life as a professional gigging musician, what things are worth focusing on (how to practice, how to approach self reflection, how to maintain good relationships, aesthetic presentation etc), how to be a skilled jazz bassist (listening,transcription,sound,technique etc) and how to keep on top of your mental health and the health of others around you.
Why is being part of Seed Sessions important to you?
Because Toby Seed was my best friend and being able to do something positive in his memory is incredibly important to me, and I believe music has the power to change someone’s life trajectory for the better.