Farenizzi talks album, art and acting
Fervour around Terrence Harold’s personality and interpretation of dancehall’s ‘rude bwoy’ style hit fever pitch at several points throughout his career as an entertainer, music producer, actor, visual artist and live event curator. Undeniably, after securing one of the coolest (and hottest) monikers to have in the 1990s in the industry – Farenizzi (previously Farenheit) – he would have to live up to its meaning.
“The culture we live in has forced public figures, like artistes, to be hyperaware of the decisions we make — something as simple as a name,” Farenizzi told The Sunday Gleaner.
Born in Kingston and raised in an area which was largely considered as uptown, Farenizzi always painted his targets on surfaces where he could leave a mark. It started out with his being a rebellious teenager who would sneak in and out of the house before the crack of dawn to spray-paint signature typeface art on the walls around the neighbourhood.
“Yes, I was one of those young rebels; I saw the beauty in street art, the graffiti. One of the walls I spray-painted was right across from where the US Embassy is now located, and it stayed there for many years. I remember the movie Beat Street had come out and it featured break dancers, ‘Rockers’, who had a specific stylised way of presenting their name. It was cool at the time and I just wanted to put it on a wall,” he shared.
“Clearly, I was influenced by different things from my peers in the industry. If you know me … anyone who knows me … knows I am an amalgamation of many things. I enjoy art in all its forms, and my years studying at the Edna Manley College would have exposed me more. I mean, I went to study for a graphic design degree and ended up spending more time over at the music school — joined a band called Morse Code — then the dance school, getting involved in break dancing,” Farenizzi continued.
He has levelled the playing field as a creative by making rules of his own — and sort of breaking the rules at the same time. Never would a dancehall entertainer flaunt a pierced nose in the 1990s – until Farenizzi. The sounds of Scare Dem Crew’s “bad man nuh dress like girl, we nuh bore nose, and we nuh bleach face and we nuh wear drop curl” instantaneously prompt a laugh out of Farenizzi, who accepts that the lyrics were probably caused by the bold-faced disregard of the dancehall doctrine preached by some deejays.
“Ha ha … I remember when even earrings and tattoos were borderline. I think Elephant Man also wrote something about me too, and people used to tease me about it. But, unlike some men, I think I get away with dressing very borderline and pull off certain fashion without coming off [a certain way]. I would rock some things persons back then would say was girly,” he said, noting that he found inspiration in the style of the older Jamaican acts like Big Youth, and his embellished gold teeth, as well as punk-funk icon Rick James’ big collar shirts and bell-foot pants fashion.
“But even stranger things, aside from a physical thing that would change an artiste’s image, there were persons in the industry who were against endorsements. There were persons who would see you trying to get ahead in the music business by taking on endorsements and pass comments like ‘so wha, yuh turn TV ads man now, or a music yah pree?’. Now, persons aspire to be endorsed by other brands to build their brand.”
True as that may be, Farenizzi accepts that the scrutiny hasn’t and isn’t going anywhere. He only survived the 2000s by staying true to all the elements which contributed to the alternating temperatures that are part of the transformation from Terrence to Farenheit to Farenizzi. He continued to fuse hard core dancehall with other genres, such as soul, funk, rock and Latin music, all of which his parents would have introduced to him as a child. And performing in Jamaica’s once underground, café circuit to touring with Sean Paul across the world helped the entertainer to connect the very eccentric musings of his mind with other cultures.
Theatre and film, in part, also became spaces which contributed to his growth, with some of his first acting stints being plays by David Herron and Patrick Brown at Centrestage Theatre and on the popular television series Royal Palm Estate.
“It’s true, I have not let [go] of my craft at all. In fact, I had auditioned for a role in the Bob Marley biopic but did not get it. I have done work for a German film by Ed Houzen and the interest is still there, but acting gigs are few and far in between. I’ve become involved in the mural projects and that, for me, is very fulfilling, coming from trying to avoid being caught defacing walls, to street art becoming more accepted,” he said.
As for music, the motions continue he said. He is the co-curator for the urban-friendly, music mixer held at Janga’s Sound Bar called Super Heavy Wednesdays which, over the past year, has served as a launchpad for up-and-coming artistes and is still busy creating, recording and producing music as part of the Dutty Rock collection.
“What happened was that we all had to draw back into ourselves in a very creative way, and that’s when we decided to go back to the basics and start the live music series. We’ve been sort of stirring a musical melting pot … and it’s been good in that regards. Over the years, I have been part of events which saw some of the newer reggae and dancehall acts, who have now been recognised on the international scene, doing their thing.”
Farenizzi is currently working on an album which has features from Sean Paul, Charly Black and Daniiboo, and has singles What’s The Plan on the Outta Body Experience Riddim and High and Low, circulating on the radio.
“I have been doing music seriously for the past 20 to 25 years. I have more music on the radio now than I ever had before. It’s funny because I don’t know if I’m more popular now. I’m really trying to finish up the album and other music for Dutty Rock Productions coming out this summer,” he shared.