On the road again with A Fine Frenzy and Ferras

Pianos and pop music go together like candy and Halloween. And the two soulful balladeers playing tonight at the Doug Fir Lounge aren’t a bad match either.

Pianos and pop music go together like candy and Halloween. And the two soulful balladeers playing tonight at the Doug Fir Lounge aren’t a bad match either.

A Fine Frenzy, the musical name of Seattle-native Alison Sudol, is touring with Ferras Alqaisi for the first time. This is Alqaisi’s first tour and will be Sudol’s fourth, though her first as the headlining act.

The Vanguard caught up with both Sudol and Alqaisi through e-mail earlier this week, and asked them about touring and the creation of their music.

Alqaisi, who’s performing name is simply “Ferras,” said that while both artists make piano-based pop, their sounds are complimentary, not the same.

“It’s two different things woven by the common thread of voice and piano. I think we’re both pretty organic,” Alqaisi said. Fortunately for them, Portlander’s are all for organic products.

When asked to describe her music, Sudol said, “If a hopeless romantic found themselves in a fairy tale, and [it] all went a bit astray, this music would be the soundtrack.” And it’s inspired by the world around her.

Ferras, on the other hand, calls himself an “extremist,” writing emotionally charged work that is inspired by the highs and lows of life. Both artists agree that songwriting is the most important aspect of their work.

“The feeling of writing a new song is incomparable,” said Sudol. And according to Alqaisi, “[Writing songs] is better than any drug.”

As the touring veteran, Sudol has an idea of what’s in store. “I expect to collect many more wonderful memories, meet some new fans, play some (hopefully) great shows and have a lot of fun.”

For Alqaisi, the hope is “to get out there and start sharing my music with as many people as possible. And to get over my stage fright.” An admirable goal for a performing artist.

Neither is concerned with being on tour with an artist of the opposite sex though. “It’s remarkably easy,” says Sudol, who shares a bus with eight other people. “My best friend used to come out with me, but she couldn’t come this time, so now it’s just me and the boys,” she said.

On touring, Sudol described her process for visiting new cities: “I personally try to go exploring when I can to get to get a better feel of the city, even if it’s raining, snowing or horribly hot. It’s nice to feel like you see the places you’re traveling to. It’s been pretty enlightening to have the stereotypes I held of different parts of America completely smashed.”

When not exploring new cities though, other activities will fill the void. Alqaisi plans on responding to MySpace messages and catching up on his reading during down time, while Sudol will be working on her children’s book, and learning how to play guitar.

The drawbacks to life on the road? Sudol knows them well: Strange food, public bathrooms, the occasional early mornings and banging your head on the ceiling of your bunk.

And, learning from past experience, she has this advice to offer for touring newbie Alqaisi: “Don’t wander into a prairie next to a carwash, in the middle of Kansas, in the middle of the night. Even if you are following a family of bunnies. You will get bugs in your pants. It’s funny to everyone else, but not when you’re the one shaking and flailing and doing the heeby-jeeby dance.”

But touring definitely isn’t all a discomfort or an embarrassing body movement. One of the things about it that Sudol loves the most is “the knowledge that you’re doing exactly what you’ve always wanted to do.”

A Fine Frenzy and FerrasTonight at 8 p.m.Entry is $1521-plus