Etty Lau Farrell talks Lollapalooza expansion, Porno for Pyros, and upcoming new music

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It’s not often that you get to have a chat with certified rock star royalty, and Etty Lau Farrell absolutely fits that bill — you already probably know her as a critically-acclaimed dancer, vocalist, actor, and singer. Alongside her husband Perry Farrell, she has dominated the media for decades with Jane’s Addiction, the recently-reunited Porno for Pyros, and side projects like Satellite Party, Heaven After Dark, and The Kind Heaven Orchestra. Oh yeah — she also sits on the board of this little festival called Lollapalooza, which recently announced that they’ve signed a ten-year agreement with the City of Chicago to remain North America’s most recognizable music festival, along with expansions into India in 2023 to become the eighth Lollapalooza across four separate continents. With this year’s Lollapalooza in the rearview, I had a wide-ranging conversation with Etty about Lollapalooza, her new music coming later this year, and what’s next for her as the fall comes into view:

 

 

One of the coolest things that I’ve seen this year was the Porno For Pyros reunion this year at Lollapalooza. I know that you all have played a few gigs filling in for Jane’s Addiction while Dave is recovering from COVID, but this one felt incredibly special given your ties to the festival and the appearance from Billy Corgan. What was it like getting the gang back together for this show?
Well, first of all, it was incredibly special because these boys hadn’t played together in twenty-odd years. So, it was just magical to watch them get their groove back in rehearsals just to fill in on these dates; everyone was a little bit rusty, and it went from laughing as they were remembering how to play these songs to just being awestruck when they were shredding away on stage. It was a treat beyond belief.

Did you have a particular highlight of this year’s Lollapalooza?
Just being back was the highlight for me. You know, last year, we were the first major festival to return after COVID disrupted everything. We knew we’d be looked at as the guinea pig — and ultimately, it was very successful, but we were all nervous. So being able to come back with less of a worry and really feel like we’re a part of this festival scene rather than dipping our toes in nervously.

 

 

The reunion wasn’t the biggest thing to come out of Lollapalooza — it was also recently announced that you and Perry have signed a ten-year renewal with the city of Chicago to keep the festival there, along with an expansion into India for 2023. How does it feel to see your creation as this now recognizable brand across the globe?
It’s really incredible, only because of how dark of a place we started this dream from. 2003 was the last touring Lollapalooza, and then after that the face of live music shifted which resulted in us canceling 2004. To come back to a destination festival in Chicago in 2005 was an intense process — we got the approval for the festival in April, and the festival was supposed to happen in August. We had four months to prepare, and at the time, we were only given half of Grant Park — one field, four baseball diamonds. The day after the festival took place, I remember seeing the headline in the Chicago-Tribune “Success-a-palooza” — and from there it’s been nothing but growth to a beautiful place. We grew into all of Grant Park; I remember them telling us that there was no way they’d shut Michigan Avenue down for “our little festival”, and now we get to do it for ten more years in a brilliant partnership with the City of Chicago. It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but it feels good to be back and to stay back.

I’m sure Chicago has a special spot in your heart being as it is the first location, but with Lolla taking place on four continents at this point, are there any international locations that you hold dear?
Every year, I look forward to flying down to South America [for Lollapalooza Argentina, Chile, and Brazil]. The people are so beautiful; they have such a passion for live music and entertainment that’s outright contagious. They’re not shy about letting you know that, and it’s so warming. I also like to eat a lot (laughs). You go to Argentina for the steak, and Santiago for the seafood, Stockholm for the fish, Berlin for the schnitzel. Each culture is so beautiful, and it’s amazing to get to share it with them for the weekend.

Let’s talk about your music for a second — I know you dropped a remix with Pink Panda this summer, and I know that you’re working with Perry in the studio on something new. Can you give us a preview of what’s coming next?
By the time the end of the year comes, I hope to have three or four singles out with remixes from different producers, and hopefully, that can lead to a new EP or an extension of the Heaven After Dark project that has really turned towards the electronic side of things. Over the course of my career, we’ve really explored a lot of genres across all of these projects, and now I think it’s time to throw a giant press party.

 

Where does your love for electronic music come from? I can think back to Satellite Party and hear the electronic influence over a decade ago, and Lolla’s incorporation of Perry’s stage really ushered in the presence of electronic music in the live media landscape.
I love how triumphant and celebratory electronic music is. It brings so much joy — when you hear it, you know it’s a good time. The fans that immerse themselves in that genre have so much love to give and they’re so accepting; I feel like there are not a lot of barriers in electronic music because of that acceptance. It offers so much freedom to really explore and incorporate new sounds that you might not necessarily get in an analog setting.

One of the biggest tours coming up is the Smashing Pumpkins / Jane’s Addiction double-header that’s hitting arenas this fall. How’s prep going for that, and are there any surprises that we can expect when the tour hits the road?
I am SO excited for this tour — like I mentioned earlier, this feels like the first “WE’RE BACK” moment that we’ve been able to have since the pandemic. We’re starting pre-production, and I’m working on bringing dancers and theatrics into the stage. We want to blow it out with dancing and visuals, and we want to push the boundaries of production like Jane’s has done for their entire career. In ’99 we had a giant see-saw that took up the entire stage, and before that we had strippers descending from the ceilings — we want to make it an experience that’s going to leave you in awe, and we can’t wait to hit the stage again this fall.

Keep up with Etty Lau Farrell: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

1 COMMENT

  1. Great interview!! Your musical knowledge and long, live music history shines through and tells a story while getting the story.

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